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5 Exercises to Stay Mobile and Prevent Injury While Stuck at Home

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With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting daily life, it’s normal to expect a drop in fitness. Most of us are moving less and spending more time on the couch. What you might not expect, is that all of this inactivity can lead to new aches and pains.

Joslynn Corredor is a climber and strength and conditioning coach in Boulder, Colorado, that works with outdoor athletes. Her list of clients includes notable names like Alex Puccio and future Olympians Brooke Raboutou and Collin Duffy, as well as Boulder’s storied Team ABC. Corredor has noted an increase in issues among her clients since the shutdown began.

“Upper back and lower back pain has been something that I’ve heard from every single clientele, anywhere from little kids to adults,” she says. “It’s super natural for that to happen, because it’s a complete change in our body mechanics and what people are used to.”

Corredor has always emphasized injury prevention in her work. “I want people to be able to move well before they just hop into whatever sport they love,” she says. Now, she recommends that climbers spend time working to keep their backs, shoulders, wrists, hips, and hamstrings healthy.

In order to stay mobile and prevent injuries due to our sudden drops in activity and extra time spent sitting, Corredor suggests the exercises below. It may be tempting to attack them aggressively, but she advises against that: “You want to be gentle, especially during this time with your body because you’re not doing your normal routine, so you need to play with and see with what your body can handle.

1. T-spine rotation

Start on your side, with knees bent, arms straight, and palms together.
While keeping the legs and lower hand in place, turn the upper body aiming to get the upper back and back of the moving arm flat on the floor, then return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  • Lie on ground palms together
  • Take a deep breath in and then turn as you breathe out
  • Keep shoulders back and down, core engaged

Corredor puts this first on the list to keep the upper back loose and counteract extra time spent sitting. A tight back can lead to other issues, she explains: “Once your back gets tight, then your shoulders start feeling pains that they haven’t maybe had in the past.” In addition to t-spine rotations, Corredor recommends performing a back strengthening exercise, like Supermans, at least three times a week.

Train With Joslynn Corredor
Climbers can sign up for online or (in normal times) in-person training and coaching with Corredor on her website Body En Route. She also offers training programs like her recently released Core Program, which she designed in collaboration with Alex Puccio.

2. Hamstring stretch with slight bent knee 

Maintain a slight bend in the knee and hinge at the hip to achieve a gentle stretch.

Corredor says, “People are going to come back and try and do heel hooks and stuff, and they’re just going to bust [their hamstrings]. Any hamstring stretching or strengthening right now [is good], for sure.”

3. Hip flexor stretch 

If properly tucking the pelvis and engaging the core and glutes, you should feel this stretch in the front of the hip.
  • 2-3 sets, 20-40 seconds each side
  • Use a higher surface for foot
  • Engage core and glutes
  • Tuck pelvis under

Sitting all day will make hip flexors tight. Corredor recommends performing this exercise every day to keep things in balance.

4. Wrist Stretch

Place palms and fingers flat on the floor with hands rotated so fingers point toward the body.
Sink back to increase the stretch.
  • 2-3 sets 20-40 seconds
  • Keep fingers flat
  • Palms press into the ground
  • Rock slowly forward and backward

Corredor says that extra time at the computer can put people at risk of carpal tunnel symptom or even tendonitis. Wrist stretches will help to prevent this issues and also prepare your body to train: “If people really hone in on stretching their forearms, then when they start adding more volume in, it’s not going to be an issue.”

5. Chest stretch

The starting position.
Press while turning the upper body away from the straight arm. 
  • 2-3 sets, 8-10 reps holding at the top for 1-2 sec
  • Keep shoulder engaged back and down
  • Press with opposite hang

“Everyone is on their computers, on their phones, watching TV, on their tablets—[it’s all] hunching over,” says Corredor. “Climbers have super tight chest in general, so all we’re doing is adding to that.” Climbers emphasizing pull-up training should take extra care to stretch the chest—pull-ups can make the problem worse.