Oh yes, yoga and I are in love. We weren’t always in love, but it’s been about a year now so I think it’s safe to say we’re in it for the long haul. I will say though that I use the word ‘yoga’ quite loosely… I really mean yoga AND any form of stretching. I know the yogis out there probably won’t enjoy that, so I apologize.
Since stretching after every climb and doing the occasional yoga session, I’ve noticed quite a difference in my climbing. I always knew stretching was important, but was always confused or unsure of what to do and what it really did for you. After talking to various friends and countless cross-searches of the net, I created a successful routine of what to do and even wrote a post about it (plug plug plug)! Without further ado, here are 6 ways stretching has changed my climbing game.
1. improved flexibility
Yeah, duh. But, I’ve never been a flexible person, so it made perfect sense to start actually stretching. I started doing regular stretches after my cardio and climbing sessions to work on my splits and hip flexibility. In terms of climbing, I can reach higher holds with my legs, I feel less sore after my workouts, and I think I have warded off more injuries than I’ve endured. Being more flexible has also opened up opportunities for me to continue working on my flexibility, like acro-yoga, pole and silks so that it remains novel and exciting.
2. calming effects
If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would ever get into yoga, I would have laughed in your face. To me, yoga was just too slow. I liked activities that pushed you to your limit – those sports that drenched you in sweat. Now, as I climb quite a bit at high intensity, I enjoy yoga for its physical and mental relaxation. When I’m in the gym or even on the wall, It forces me to slow down and take a break. I’m sorry 15 year old me – I’ve gone to the dark side!
3. improved balance
Clumsy, jerky and lack of spatial awareness would describe me when climbing or just generally as a human being. Slab and flat wall routes would terrify me because I was awful with balance. I’m still pretty bad at it, but I’m getting better! Many of my stretching poses require balance and paying close attention to body movements, which I find directly correlates with climbing. My yogi friend climbs flat wall routes so gracefully because she knows how her body moves and how to transfer weight slowly from limb to limb. I have a long way to go, but I have definitely seen improvements in this area on the wall.
4. reminders to breathe
Anyone who has ever worked out knows that sometimes you just forget the basic human instinct to breath. I plead guilty to that! You need to breath for obvious reasons, but for some reason we like to hold our breath through the tough stuff. I often catch myself holding my breath when I’m training, but I have a much better awareness now that I can point out when it’s happening and get the oxygen flowing again.
5. great for cross-training
Yoga has provided me with the opportunity to work on strength in different ways. For example, I am absolutely in love with inversions at the moment. After lots and lots of practice over this past year, I can finally do headstands with ease! It was a big accomplishment for me. Now that I can do that basic exercise, I’ve been working on different bends I can do in that position, including leg lifts to work on my core. I struggle to train core because I just hate it so much, but when I’m in a headstand it suddenly becomes much more fun!
6. I’m ready for my next work out
Less down time! When I’m feeling terribly sore, the last thing I want to do is workout. I used to feel really sore post-climbing mornings, and I’m not going to lie, sometimes I still do. But stretching has definitely warded off the dreadful soreness more than I realize. Not only does it feel great the next morning, it also feels great while you’re stretching. It’s not quite a massage, but still feels quite soothing. When I’m not sore, I’m more likely to push myself harder. More importantly though, it actually makes me want to show up to the gym and not use soreness as an excuse to take a rest day.
Climb on xx