Climbing is all about footwork. The lower body is paramount for proper and effective sending, meaning strong and flexible legs are a necessity.The four poses below, adapted from our Yoga for Climbers online course, will help improve your leg strength and stability so you can climb harder and stay injury-free.
- Reach your left leg back and bend your right knee directly over your right ankle.
- Place your left foot flat at a 45-degree angle. Make sure your right ankle and foot are at a 90-degree angle (pointing forward), and that your right heel is aligned with your left heel. (People with ankle problems may lift the heel, and balance on the toes.)
- Draw your right, outer hip back, and align your right thigh parallel to the ground.
- Lift your torso and arch your upper back slightly, while raising arms above head.
- Clasp your hands together under your back and stay high on your shoulders.
- Lift your chest, chin away from the sternum, and push your head into the floor.
- Tuck your tailbone, while broadening back and shoulder blades. Firm your entire body.
- Roll the spine slowly down to finish pose.
- Strengthens and stretches your quadriceps, hamstrings, ankles, and hip flexors.
- Increases endurance in the legs, which helps prevent “Elvis leg.”
- Stronger hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings and stabilizes knees for high-steps and extending legs for reachy, sideways foot placements enhance a climber’s ability to high-step.
- Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, groins (psoas).
- Strengthens the shoulders, arms, and back muscles.
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
- From downward-facing dog, lift your left leg into the air.
- Bend that leg and bring the knee toward your left wrist, forming an angle through your left shin and thigh bone.
- Inch your hips back by turning your right toes under and picking up your hips and setting them down evenly.
- Come down onto your elbows or forehead, and relax into a forward fold over your left shin.
- Keep some energy pulling inward as you release the big muscles of your left hip.
- Stay for at least one minute and up to five minutes.
- Release, and take the pose on the other side.
- Opens outer hips and thighs.
- Stretches inner groin, where climbers can be really tight.
- Softens the hip flexors of the back leg and will give you space to reach those high footholds.
- Tuck your toes under (even that stubborn pinky toe), and sit back on your heels.
- Relax your weight down gradually for five breaths.
- Work up to staying three minutes daily.
- If this feels like too much, lean forward and place your hands on the floor to take some of your weight off your heels.
- Stretches tired feet.
- Opens up tight plantar fascia, as well as the connective tissue and muscles around the calves.
- Stand with heels slightly apart, big toes touching. Balance your weight evenly by lifting and spreading your toes and rocking your body on your feet.
- Lift your kneecaps, strengthen the inner arches of your feet, turn the upper thighs slightly inward, and draw your pubic bone and tailbone toward each other.
- Lift your upper body without sticking your ribs out, stretch your shoulder blades back, and drop your shoulders.
- Drop and straighten your arms, opening your palms in front of you.
- Grow tall through the crown of your head, chin parallel to the floor.
- Allow your tongue to be flat on the floor of your mouth.
- Soften your eyes.
- Promotes stillness, relaxed strength, and “groundedness.”
Want more? Yoga for Climbers is the first comprehensive online yoga course made specifically for climbers. This self-paced program will help you learn how to be more flexible, strengthen your entire body, boost your confidence, and help you stay calm after a fall, in the middle of a crux, and even sitting in traffic. Developed by Climbing magazine and pro climber and yogi Heidi Wirtz, this online class focuses on aspects of mental and physical training that can benefit every climber, whether you're a veteran big waller or putting on climbing shoes for the first time. Register now at AIMAdventureU.com/yogaforclimbers and enter promo code YOGA4CLIMBERS for a $40 discount (normal price $189).