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Stretch, don't break; and other wisdom from NASCAR

May 24, 2016


Ladies, Gentlemen, start your engines!’ 


I LOVE racing!  The speed, the total commitments, even the smell of race fuel and highly tuned exhaust.  I actually was lucky enough to race Jet Skis and Motocross for a number of years and experienced driving a NASCAR race car for eight laps around the Kansas Speedway once (I won’t lie, it pretty much scarred the poop out of me :o ).  And not to brag, but I won a 5 foot trophy one year during a Motocross Series for ‘Sportsman of the Year’ (kinda their way of saying: ‘at least you tried really hard Davy’ :/ )


Anyway, enough of my awesomeness.  Back to starting your engines.  Too often in climbing, we run into the gym straight out of an eight hour desk job, throw on a pair of MadRock shoes and our trusty Black Diamond Harness and attempt to quickly finish our pet project before dinner . . . and then we get injured and have to take the next 4 weeks off climbing (during which time our ‘project’ gets replaced with something else). 


So let’s talk about how to warm up and stretch before jumping on that 5.OMG on lead that we keep falling off of on every clip. 


It’s SO important.  Climbing hard moves puts a ton of stress on our muscles and tendons. If we don’t warm up, those structures are not ready for the trauma and injure much easier.


In five minutes, we can stretch all the critical tendons and start warming up those muscles. Then another 10 minutes of easy to progressively moderate climbing should get us to the point that we can start tackling the hard stuff.


So how do we do it? I like to start on the bottom (the feet) and work my way up.



Begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart and rotate the body around knees and ankles in a clockwise direction x 5 movements, then counter clockwise. 



Now move up and do the same thing with the hips (think hula-hoop). 



Next, we will raise the right knee as high as we can, and then rotate it to the right (as in a high-step) and drop it down.  Again, 5 of these and repeat on left.




Next we will squat down with elbows pushing knees apart and again pivot in a rotating motion 5 times in each direction. (These are great for opening up the hips.)



Our next two stretches are designed to simulate climbing moves.  With left foot planted, move right foot further right and point toe to right.  Bend the right knee and stretch right arm up and out as far as possible as if grabbing a far way hold. Now we will do left side and (you guessed it) repeat 5 times). 



Then take the right foot, rotate to left on toe and bend and drop knee while extending left foot out.  Reach right had across body to left, palm out again as if grabbing a hold up high and left (this simulates drop knee moves in climbing). Both sides five times.


Moving up the bod, we are going to do some toe touches and back extensions five times.



Now roll the neck once in each direction (got ya there, you thought five times, but I get sea sick if I do that five times).



Now we can move on to arms.  With both arms extended to sides, we will do five big shoulder rotations in each direction and then will bend elbows and wrists and do 5 rotations of these (you kinda look like you are trying to fly or maybe drowning, not sure which).  





Next reach over head and behind back to touch shoulder blades and then bring arms forward and extend by hips behind body.



Wrist gliders are next.  Bend both elbows and wrists with hand and fingers straight.  Extend elbows while simultaneously extending wrist.  Back to starting position and yep, repeat five times. 


Finger gliders are done by raising hands by shoulders, making a fist and then extending fingers and hand forward.  Go back to fist and now extend fingers straight up. I really want my fingers warmed up for those little crimps, so I usually overachieve on these and do 10 each of these.




Finally, let’s place our palms together in prayer pose and push hands together as we raise our hands.  Once as high as we can raise, push back of hands together and come back down.  


There you have it.  Once you get this all down, it only takes about five minutes.  


One very important note: all of these stretches should be done dynamically (meaning you are constantly moving, not holding in one place for any length of time). Dynamic stretching has been shown to decrease injury, while static stretching (holding a stretch for 10, 20 or 30 sec) just before exercise actually momentarily weakens muscles and tendons and leads to injury.


Now as I said above, spend at least 10 minutes or so climbing, working your way up in difficulty, then rev the motor a few times, hit the gas pedal and go for the checkered flag.


Climb hard and Follow Your Bliss,




P.S.  Thanks to our amazing program director Alisha for demonstrating these for us

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