Today, Colorado based yoga instructor and climber, Emma Murray, gives us the low down on the best yoga warm up for climbers. Try it out and work to loosen up those perpetually tight shoulders!
Getting your muscles warmed up before jumping on the wall can not only help prevent injury, it can also get you climbing your best right off the bat. Get on this yoga routine to activate all your climbing muscles. When warming up, movement is key. Dynamic stretching that targets shoulders, hips and lats is particularly important and helpful for climbing. Warming up the muscles in these areas can prevent muscle and soft tissue tears or overstrain on tendons and ligaments. Climbing is a strenuous sport; be kind to your body and take care of it so you can continue for the rest of your life!
Place your finger tips on top of your shoulders. Guide the elbows in large, full circles. Start slowly. As you circle, try to squeeze the shoulders when you’re pressing the elbows back. Then when you bring the elbows forward, spread the shoulder blades apart. Repeat 10-15 times forwards and backwards. This’ll engage the rotator cuff and area around the scapula.
Cactus flow to Full Prayer
Bring your arms out to a T and bend the elbows like goal posts. Roll your shoulders up to your ears and back down the spine. Pinch the shoulder blades together and pull the heart forward and up, drawing the elbows slightly down. Then round the spine, tuck the chin and with a large sweeping motion, bring the elbows forward and press the forearms together. Repeat 8-10 times. This also targets the chest and pectoral area, rounding out the upper body.
Upward Bound Finger Pose
Incrementally work interlaced fingers overhead. Start with an inhale: interlace fingers at your chest, palms facing inwards. Exhale: flip the palms to face outwards and extend your arms, tuck the chin, spread the shoulder blades apart. Inhale: flip palms inward, draw back into chest. Exhale: flip palms out, extend out 45 degrees higher. Inhale: flip palms in, draw them towards the forehead. Exhale: flip palms, extend them up directly overhead. Finish with some gentle side to side motions. Repeat 3-6 times. Attending to the lower scapula also helps loosen and prepare the shoulders to work hard.
Kneel (use a shirt, rope bag or towel if on hard surface if the ground is too hard on the knee) and extend the right leg out to the side. Inhale, lift both arms. Exhale, slide your right hand down towards your right calf for a long side body stretch. Avoid resting your hand on the knee joint. Bring gaze up to the sky. Breathe here for 8-10 counts. Activating the side body like this will help warm up the lat muscles, which control and help with a lot of climbing movements and activities that involve pulling and stabilizing.
Wild Thing Variation
Place left hand on the floor under your shoulder. Extend arm overhead. Press your hips forward for a great hip flexor stretch. Now take your arm and draw big circles, gently warming up the entire rotator cuff. Circle 8-10 times forwards and backwards. Hip flexors are crucial when bending your knees and lifting your legs. They help protect the lower back from overuse, so take care to strengthen and stretch them daily, if possible.
Start in downward dog, an inverted V shape. Inhale, lift your heels, round the spine and tuck the belly in. Slowly roll forward into a plank position, keeping the spine rounded and core engaged. Press fully onto your tip toes and bring your shoulder slightly over your wrists. Exhale, reverse process back to downward dog. Repeat 6-8 times. The pressing motion will help engage the antagonist, or “opposing,” muscles that can help you maintain balance and overall health of climbing-specific muscles.
There you have it! My favorite bits of yoga to warm you up. I hope this sequence gets you ready to climb and helps prevent those nagging injuries. For more yoga sequences, interviews, and stories head over to my website emmaathenamurray.com.