Stretch and Strengthen

6 yoga poses to ease aching hiking muscles

Stretching is an often-overlooked aspect of the pre-climbing routine. The following stretches pull double duty; not only do they lengthen your muscles, tendons, and ligaments for the approach—therefore preventing injury—but they also provide more mobility and flexibility on the wall so you can climb smarter and stronger. Pick and choose from the following stretches, or do all of them at the trailhead or before you leave basecamp. Hold each posture for at least 10 slow breaths.

Frog pose
Open your hips to reduce strain on the knee joints

Start on all fours. Bring your forearms to the floor and clasp your hands. Widen your knees one at a time, as far apart as possible; knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Flex your feet and keep your tailbone slightly tucked.

Supine spinal twist

Supine spinal twist
Relax and realign the spine

Lay on your back with your arms straight out to the sides, palms up and forming a T, legs extended. Bend your left knee into your chest, and lower the knee to the floor on right side of your body; try to keep both shoulders on the ground. Turn your head to the left to deepen the stretch. Hold, and repeat on the other side.

Reclining big toe pose
Stretch the entire lower body to relieve backaches and strengthen the knees

Lay on your back, legs extended. Use a strap (or towel or belt—something that doesn’t stretch) and loop it around the left foot, a couple inches below the toes. Straighten the left knee and press the heel up toward the ceiling, flexing the toes toward your face. Walk hands up the strap until the elbows are straight. Hold, and repeat on the other side.

Seated forward bend
Calm the brain and stretch the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings

Sit with both legs extended in front of you, feet together and flexed toward your face. Move the flesh out from underneath your glutes. Reach forward and grab a hold of your big toes with your middle and index fingers and thumbs (think: your “peace sign” fingers). Keep your spine as straight as possible (don’t hunch or round your back). Try to keep the legs straight as you pull your toes, extending from the heels. Look forward, not down, and continue straightening your legs and spine.

One-legged pigeon pose

One-legged pigeon pose
Open up the shoulders and chest, and lengthen the thighs, groin, and hip flexors

Begin in plank (or pushup) position. Bring right knee to right wrist and angle right shin so that your right foot comes close to your left wrist (it’s OK if your right foot is closer to your groin). Lower your left knee and top of the foot to the ground; the leg should extend straight behind you, not off to the right or left. Lower your upper body to rest on the top of the right thigh, and extend your arms in front of you. Hold, and then repeat on the other side.

One-legged king pigeon pose
Stretch the quads and open the hips

Sit with both legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and place the foot on the floor close to the glutes (less than 90 degrees); shin should be about perpendicular to the floor. Shift around to bring the left leg straight back and lay the top of the thigh on the floor, fully extended. Bend the left knee and raise that shin perpendicular to the floor. Grab the left foot with the left arm and gently pull the foot toward your glute. Keep chest lifted and press elbows toward ceiling. Hold, and then repeat on the other side.


Comments

52 and still climbing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bx_CL0Ubl4&list=PLJL3PoiMgx-5fxtooRP9TZEnPiMDy6y41

DrRic - 10/12/2014 7:26:30

Stretching before climbing isn't a waste of time, it's a waste of performance, reducing strength by about 10%. Stretch after climbing to help your muscles recover. http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=stretching+reduces+strength&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ei=Ub8PVJXCGo3aigKh6oCwCA&ved=0CB0QgQMwAA

Mike - 09/09/2014 9:04:58

There are no studies that say stretching before exercise is a waste of time. There are studies that say static stretching isn't always necessary if the exercise doesn't require a large range of motion, but even in those cases it's recommended that you warm up with dynamic stretching. Even so, cooling down with static stretching prevents muscles from tightening up and also improves range of motion. With that being said, rock climbing very obviously requires a large range of motion. Also, yoga isn't just flexibility. Just like Conquer the Crux says, it helps to improve balance, core strength, breathing and body awareness.

A Different Paul - 07/26/2014 12:02:04

kudos to kensof for moronic statement of the year. Well done there bro. Every sport in the world that uses stretching must be wrong, lets let those muscles tighten repeatedly without stretching...that will prevent injury. Let me guess running and core exercises must be a waste of time also.

Paul - 05/20/2014 6:43:24

I agree with Jerrod. Maybe there's a space limitation but illustrations go a long way to enhancing the verbose description.

Wkndr - 04/20/2014 12:17:55

I am all for yoga and have been using it to help my climbing for sometime now. I don't see it as stretching before exercise but more of a means to improve balance, flexibility and even strength. Plus, learning breathing techniques, body awareness and focus are also huge benefits in climbing and in life. LOVE all these poses!

Conquer the Crux - 02/11/2014 8:26:40

I am all for yoga and have been using it to help my climbing for sometime now. I don't see it as stretching before exercise but more of a means to improve balance, flexibility and even strength. Plus, learning breathing techniques, body awareness and focus are also huge benefits in climbing and in life. LOVE all these poses!

Conquer the Crux - 02/11/2014 8:26:02

Needs more pictures. Thanks!

Jerrod - 01/05/2014 9:47:45

I don't know how it became conventional wisdom that yoga enhances climbing performance, but if anyone out there has scientific data to back it up I'd love to see it. Most of the studies I've been reading says that stretching before exercise is mostly a waste of time, or downright counterproductive. It seems that unless you're doing routes that require you to drape your leg behind your neck, skip the yoga and climb more. Yoga is very good for one thing - getting better at doing yoga.

kensof - 01/03/2014 5:16:21

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