Rock Climbing Perks
It’s all about your rotator cuff strength!
Rock climbing is quickly becoming more popular as a sport, with indoor climbing gyms making it more accessible than ever. It is even coming to the 2020 Olympics in Japan, for the first time ever!
Indoor climbing has enabled individuals, young and old, to safely enjoy the climbing experience in a controlled environment. As more partake in the sport, physical therapists are holding an increasing responsibility to keep up with the demands of the growing sport. We are seeing more climbers coming in with injured shoulders, elbows, wrists, neck, fingers, hips and lower back.
If you are a climber, you need to understand that a wide range of functional movements are needed to climb, typically when your shoulders are at 90 of flexion, or higher. Lateral movements also require your shoulders to be more elevated and abducted. So when you’re working on overhands or steep routes, your elbows are straight whereas during simple routes typically your shoulders are in a neutral to slightly internally rotated position. It is therefore essential that you work the correct movements in order to strengthen the rotator cuff to further assist you during climbing.
For a shoulder exercise to be effective, it needs to be functional and must mirror the demands of the strain on the rotator cuff while climbing. In order for you to better understand the shoulder dynamics, we’ve attached an example of an exercise that strengthens the rotator cuff, develops scapular endurance and mimics the way it is used when you’re on the rock wall.
Scapula Wall Clocks
Place a theraband around your wrists and rest your hands on a wall.
Imagine there is a clock in front of you.
Slide your right arm straight up (towards the 12 o’clock) and return to starting position. Then slide the same right arm a diagonal upwards (towards the 2 o’clock) and return to starting position. Repeat the movement towards the 4 and 6 o’clock positions.
Then repeat the same exercise with your left shoulder starting with the 6 o’clock and moving clockwise to finish at the 12 o’clock.
What is the purpose of this exercise?
Scapular clocks with theraband resistance will target your scapular stabilizers and strengthen your rotator cuff by mirroring the action of reaching out for different climbing holds in various positions.
It is important to keep a neutral spine, while keeping the scapula tucked “down and in” throughout the full exercise.
Strong and stable shoulders will allow you to enjoy the pleasures of rock climbing while helping to prevent future injuries.
If you want to learn more about climbing workout ideas, follow us on Instagram @coreperformance.pt or call us for a free consultation with one of our physical therapists.
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