Chicks Training Tip: Correct Your Imbalances

Winter has been humming along for a number of months now, we are well past the shortest day of the year, the tease of some sunny longer days is happening, we are beginning to dream of sunny pitches, days in the desert, trips, projects, and scratching that climbing itch!  Now it’s time to talk about correcting our imbalances.

Before I blast forward take a moment to look back at the subject matter of the last 10 training installments. There is an enormous amount of great information in these “Training Tips”, every installment builds toward the next. Enjoy!

Chicks Newsletter #9 –Intermediate Rock Climbing. Training Program

Chicks Newsletter #10 – Basic Rock Climbing Training Program

Chicks Newsletter #11 – The “Process” projecting and climbing harder routes

Chicks Newsletter #12 – “Let’s get serious”, Strength training for women

Chicks Newsletter #13 – “Alpine Days” – how to train for long alpine routes for mortals

Chicks Newsletter #14 – “Alpine Legs” – leg specific training for alpine climbing

Chicks Newsletter #15 – “Ski Legs” – additional training specific for skiing

Chicks Newsletter #16 – Solid Shoulders – injury prevention

Chicks Newsletter #17 – Finger Board Training – maintain finger strength in the winter months.

Now on to the meat of the matter of correcting imbalances…

It’s time to start seriously thinking about climbing season. Depending on where you live, your job, trips you’ve planned, your outdoor season will begin in the next month or two. Hopefully you’ve implemented the tips for shoulder injury prevention, Chicks Newsletter #16 Solid Shoulders – injury prevention, through the winter and possibly added some finger board training where appropriate, Chicks Newsletter #17 Finger Board Training – maintain finger strength, in the winter months.

 

This training tip will cover fixes for climbing imbalances. Remember, climbing is fun, training for climbing is fun, however we are only as strong as our weakest link, that weak link is also our greatest potential injury site. So let’s get rid of those imbalances, you’ll be stronger and more proficient at the sport for the work.

 

If you’ve been climbing and training for a long time you will have complex muscular imbalances, you fall in the category of “Too Much Of A Good Thing”. Basically what climbing does for our mind and soul is not always 100% beneficial for our bodies long term. If you are new to climbing, let’s ingrain some good practices into your training program to keep you balanced and injury free through your climbing career.

 

I train dozens of climbers female and male, who climb anywhere from 5.9 to 5.14. The top imbalances that I see in all climbers are:

 

  • Postural – rounded shoulders, dropped sternum, kyphotic head position
  • Mobility Issues – loss of overhead mobility, tight hamstrings, tight chest
  • Muscular imbalances – weak rhomboids, mid and low traps, over developed upper traps, weak pushing muscles

 

I could list more, however these are the ones I see “most” often. Beyond these, people should seek one on one professional evaluation, especially if you are dealing with a current injury.

 

To begin to fix your imbalances:

Before you climb and ideally everyday:

 

  • Laying on your back on a foam roller, head to sacrum, keep your core tight. Begin with your arms straight fingers toward the ceiling, then let your hands fall toward the floor, overhead. Upper arm by your ears, stretch your shoulders but do not let your back arch at all. Try and get the back of your hands to the floor.

Overhead climbing stretch

  • Then: the same start potion, bend your arms at 90 degrees, and let them fall to the side. Stretch your chest again do not let your back arch. Try and get the back of the forearm to the floor.

Correcting imbalances - climbing

  • Next: Laying on your back with your legs up the wall, extend your legs up as straight as you can with out smashing your low back into the floor, try and maintain a natural lumbar curve. You’ll look like an “L” from the side.

correcting imbalances - Climber L stretch

  • In that same position, open the hips by letting the legs fall into a “V” position.

correcting imbalances - v stretch

  • Lastly make a “4’ with your legs by placing the ankle of one foot just above the knee of the opposite leg and stretch the hip of the bent leg, repeat on the other leg.

correcting imbalances - climber 4 stretch 

Hold each stretch or 30 – 60 secs, repeat a few times, if time repeat after climbing and on rest days!
Then:
2 x 10 shoulder openers
3 x 5 cuban press
3 x 5 wall squats

 

These three movements were covered in our First Chicks Training Tip. Pay particular attention to your shoulders blades. In both of these movements you want to squeeze your shoulder blades together like you are pinching a pencil (mid trap), and keep them drawn down your spine (low trap) and try to NOT shrug them up (upper trap taking over), through the entire movement. Shoulder Openers – that means the entire circle the PVC is making shoulder blades are stable, together and down. Cuban press – that means they are stable start to finish until the arms are directly overhead and back down by your side, this is difficult for most. Wall Squat – pay particular attention to stable shoulder blades and lumbar spine through the entire movement.

 

On days you climb, before you climb add these two movements in addition to the above.
  • 3 x 10 push ups – this movement was covered in Chicks Training Tip #2Pay particular attention to not shrugging your shoulders, allowing them to lift toward your ears as you push. Keep your shoulder blades stable squeezed together and down as you push. This is harder that it sounds.
  • 3 x 8 Bent Over Row or Body Row – these movements were covered in Chicks Training Tip #5

 

Chicks make this a two part movement for each repetition. Begin this movement by first squeezing your shoulder blades into a stable position then pulling (rowing) with the arms. Once the thumbs have hit the armpits at a full range of motion focus on keeping the shoulder blades stable as you lower the weight or your body depending on the movement your are doing then lastly releasing your shoulder blades. Begin the next rep by squeezing the shoulder blades together and stabilizing before pulling with the arms.
Add all of these tips to your already established climbing training regimen as you begin to prep of the season.

If you are advanced you likely have a plan or work directly with a coach. For Intermediate and Beginning Climbers see Chicks Newsletter with Training Tips:

Intermediate Rock Climbing Training Program
Basic Rock Climbing Training Program
As always, if you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me via email.
Carolyn Parker
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>