After a hard day of climbing, I cool down in an ocean/lake/river/cold shower. The cold water decreases muscular swelling and helps me recover more quickly, so that I’m psyched and ready for my next climbing day.
Learn a bit of anatomy and the location of trigger points, then get a tennis and golf ball and release your muscles starting from the scapular muscles and going down to your elbows and wrists. The tennis ball helps release tension and flush out metabolites, while the golf ball is great for hotspots that usually affect muscles farther from the knot itself.
Epsom-salt soak! Especially the kind infused with eucalyptus. So relaxing. Gentle yoga (yin or restorative) is also great for recovery, as it can allow you to stretch sore, tired muscles in a safe, functional way.
My Yeti water bottle has been a nice, portable roller to roll out my forearms after a few hard goes on my project.
As I’ve learned as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, massaging acupoints on the forearm can treat—or even prevent—injury. For shoulder weakness/pain (Px)/range of motion (ROM) issues, massaging acupoints Small Intestine (SI) 3 and SI 8 reduces Px and increases ROM on the back of the shoulder, neck, and scapula; for deltoid (frontal) shoulder PX, I use Large Intestine (LI) 13. For forearm pain during wrist flexion, I use points on the San Jiao meridian, especially SJ 9, approx. four-fingers’ breadth from the elbow crease. Extension of the wrist responds to an extra point on the Pericardium meridian (“PC 4.5”) approx. the same distance away. Treat medial elbow tendonitis with SI points 3, 4, 6, and 8, and lateral epicondylitis with LI points 8, 9, 10, 11. You can Google the acupoints listed above by their alphanumeric designation (SI for Small Intestine, etc.).
After a big day of climbing or even after a pumpy route/pitch, I’ll put my forearms behind my knees and squat. The compression not only feels good but helps to release the pump. After a few seconds, I’ll stand up and shift to target another part of my forearms, and then squat again. Sometimes, I’ll even do this on-route.
—Matt Moy, MD, MPH
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