I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Warm up Routine, by Stevie Haston.

Warm up, or pre climb, is a weird and misunderstood process. If you do it wrong, and most do, including me from time to time, it can do you no good at all, or worse affect your subsequent performance. What to do then? Well its probably too much for you to do, because you are just interested in a quick fix, but really a life time commitment to yoga and healthy sport is the way to go. In many ways a warm up is your previous life to that point in time, so really you or I, or all of us need to clean up our previous life!

So ok, short term quick fix then, just before you climb, goes like this. You gently wake up your spinal column and free it from sticking. This is done because all movement heavily involves the vertebrae to the head, but climbing relies a great deal on cross torsion forces, twisting, and asymmetric forces, so you can severely affect your performance or injure yourself by being the slightest bit stiff or blocked.. You do this gently with the camel ride, then the torso twist, then forward alternate toe touching returning to standing stretch. Now your ankles and wrists by circling motions. Then backward stretch very gently and slowly. You then finish with a pectoral stretch which should also warm up your Rhomboids. The next step is to do one, two, or three warm up pitches, or boulders, or little traverses. The choice of these warm up ‘pre climb climbs’ is incredibly important, and is obviously affected by availability. A bad or tweaky climb is much worse than none at all! Its also important not to struggle, pull too hard, or get pumped. Wow you are probably thinking, ‘wish I hadn’t asked’! Yep, and if you sit down and belay your mate all-tense for twenty minuets, you will need a little stretching, and mobility again! It’s also possible to do an abbreviated, or sitting, or hanging in a harness, little stretch routine on multi pitch, I leave these to your imagination.

Stretching and mobility for your neck, shoulders, fingers, and face should also be done. The neck and shoulders are a little bit tricky and you could really do with a little help from a Yoga practician. The face and muscles of the hand really appreciate a little TLC and it’s a free bee, easy and nice.
Finally, and I bet your tired already, remember to stretch your diaphragm by a few big tummy breathing followed by upper chest breathing in a 5 second in and a 5 second out rhythm. This will also help center yourself and help achieve a neutral mind, I say help because it will help, nothing assures neutral mind except being an expert.
Believe it or not this little routine takes very little time and it can almost be done in a dream. When I wake in the morning I do some very natural stretches in bed, then the normal Yoga Sun Salutation. Next I go down make a brew, triple cap industrial strength coffee for me, yoga soothing tea for my companion, and do some stretching while waiting for the brew. It seems very natural to me, and without it I always feel stiff.

The various stretches can all be found in Yoga books, and the breathing is normal Pranayama. I am not saying this is the only way, or the best routine, it is just a very good routine. I would really have to say that isometric stretching, and violent ballistic stretching are probably not the way to go. And at all costs avoid a big forearm pump, 30 minutes is minimum time after a heavy pump on an important route. Remember stretching and warm up is not a competition. Leave your ego for that few seconds when you clip the chains. Good luck.
Here are some diagrams of the exercises they can be found on Laurence's page.