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Climbing Prehab Activities and What You Might Not Know About Them!

Aug 29, 2021

As climbers, we need to take care of our bodies. That includes before, during, and after a climbing session, but did you know what the power of prehab exercises can do for you? Keeping your body prepped and ready for a climb can be essential for preventing injuries and improving your performance out there. 

You might be wondering…what is Prehab? 

Prehab is a personalized, continually evolving exercise program that provides sport-specific focused exercises and activities for an athlete’s needs. 

With that said, we are climbers, so what makes a good pre-hab activity for us?

A good activity has to be climbing specific movements/ motions. Climbing takes place in 3 main planes; sagittal, transverse, and frontal. 

So, let me ask you this:

Which of these options causes initial injury in climbing? What do you think?

  1. The arm moving on the body
  2. The body moving on the arm 

Answer: Option 2: The body moving on the arm!

A lot of the exercises and training I see climbers do consists of moving the arm on the body. In climbing, you're always going to be holding something, then moving your body off that arm. Reaching for a hold is also an example of the arm moving on the body, but injuries occur during a hold when the body moves on the arm. This is the key to making something climbing specific. The more specific and similar the climbing movements are, the better the transition will be. If we think of it as the body moving off of the arm, that can guide our prehab activities so that they are more climbing-specific, and help us further prevent injury. 

 I'm going to drill this every time…. 

Climbing is a sport about movement.

And if it's a sport that involves movement, then you have to move in three planes of motion. It's all about “safety”.... SFT.

S- Sagittal ( forward and backward plane)

F- Frontal ( anything from side to side). 

T- Transverse ( twisting motions)

With these prehab activities, you have to know these 2 things if you're trying to prehab for climbing:

  1. The body has to move off the arm 
  2. Climbing is about movement, you have to move in the 3 planes. 

Here are some examples of wrist and shoulder prehab exercises:

Wrist prehab:

On a mat, get on all fours, with hands flat on the ground. If you have wrist problems, start with fingers pointing away from you. You will rotate through all 3 planes of motion. Lean forwards and backwards for the sagittal plane, side to side for the frontal plane, and small circles for the transverse plane, switching directions periodically. You can do about 5x each. To generate a larger stretch of the forearms, you can point your fingers towards you and do the same motions. 

 Shoulder Prehab:

In all fours position, hands flat on the ground, go into a “down-dog” yoga position. Drive your hips forward and lean forwards and backwards on the ball of your foot. Moving frequently and avoiding prolonged holds. Again, leaning forwards and backwards for the sagittal plane. For the frontal plane, you can also dip your hips from side to side, initiating the movements from your hips. 

Stop if any of these exercises cause pain. It should almost feel like a stretch! Sharp and shooting pain is a sign to NOT push through and seek professional help!

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