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Climbing / School / Stretches Upper Body

Stretches Upper Body

Stretches Upper Body

Stretching the upper body after a climbing session is very important indeed and should become a routine for every climber. Not only will stretching improve flexibility and range of movement within the upper body, it will also help relax the muscles, speed recovery and help prevent aches and pains the following day. Stretching should be used as part of a warm down routine (see warm down article).

Types of stretches

There are thousands of different types of stretches that can be used for the upper body, I have chosen a select few that I use in my own warm down routine which I feel include all the main muscles used in climbing and the main muscle groups.

All stretches should be repeated twice for each muscle group and held for between 15 and 30 seconds. Please refer to guidelines for stretching for more in-depth information.

All of these pictures show the left side of the body been stretched unless otherwise stated.

a) Fingers

Since climbers use their fingers for climbing, this stretch is essential to prevent forearm and finger stiffness.

Placing the palm of your hand in front of you on the floor gently roll the weight back over your fingers until a stretch is felt in the fingers and up the inner forearm, keep your fingers close together so that no one finger is stressed more than the others.

b) Shoulders and back

Placing your elbow on your opposite knee gently lean forward until stretching is felt in the shoulder and back area in the side that your are stretching. You can use your other arm to pull under your bent leg for extra leverage if needed.

c) Biceps and pecs

Place the palm of your hand sideward onto a door frame or other firm upright object. Whilst facing forwards gentle twist your hips into the stretch and if needed lean into the stretched arm gently with your bodyweight. Stretching should be felt in the bicep and pec area.

d) Pecs/Chest 

With a bent arm, place your elbow/inside arm against a door frame or other firm upright object and lean into your arm, slightly twisting away from your elbow in the process. This should cause your inner chest and pecks to stretch.

e) Triceps

Place a bent arm behind your head so that your elbow is pointing upwards and your hand touching your neck. Whilst keeping your back straight place your other hand on top of your elbow and gently pull your elbow across the back of your head. Stretching should be felt in the triceps.

f) Neck

Standing up with arms down by your side gently tilt your head to one side so that a stretch is felt in the opposing neck muscle. Gently hold this position.

It is also possible to use your hand for this exercise to give a bit of extra pressure into the stretch (photo F2). Be careful not to pull too hard and not to twist your neck.

g) Back and arms

There are two good ways to stretch the whole back area and even the hamstrings. Place your hands high above your head and either cross you hands or keep them straight. Reach upwards as high as possible being careful not to arch your back and hold this position. I recommend you do both of these stretches since they stretch slightly different muscles.

h) Triceps and lats

Holding you hands together place the underside of your hands on top of a horizontal surface at about chest height, lean your body down towards the floor so that a stretch is felt in the lats and the triceps.

Another alternative is to do the same but face outwards away from the surface, so that your arms are behind your back rather than in front of you and lower your body by bending your knees until a stretch is felt.

i) Lats

Placing your hand on top of a door frame or pull up bar with your arm straight gently pull downwards so that a gentle pulling feeling is felt in the lat area as if you where doing a pull up. Then gently lean forward into the stretch.