If you are a wall, rock, or bouldering climber, you probably know how important a warm-up is. But what about stretching? Should I stretch before or after climbing? Unfortunately, it’s not that obvious. In this article, we will dispel all your doubts.
So should I stretch before or after climbing? From a medical point of view, there is no clear-cut answer, as prolonged stretching of the body has both positive and negative effects. It all depends on what we need at the moment.
Of course, stretching is a very important part of any workout, but the correct order of our activities should be as follows: first the warm-up then the workout, and finally the stretching. The effect of stretching is very difficult to study because there is no other similar activity with which it can be compared.
What does stretching the body give us?
From a medical point of view, stretching has both positive and negative effects on our bodies. Prolonged stretching of our muscles leads to a decrease in muscle tension and therefore causes a decrease in our power and strength. It is for these reasons that stretching the body after training is more often recommended.
On the other hand, stretching before training can also have a positive effect. When our muscles are regularly stretched, it also increases their elasticity, so in effect, we have a decrease in muscle power in exchange for an improvement in their range of motion. Depending on what sports we do, we can do stretching before or after training. We can test ourselves what works better in our case.
Specifics of climbing
Climbing or bouldering is a rather specific sport, but regardless of our age, we can try our hand at it. However, we should remember that it is a sport that requires good condition and strength. Of course, as we gain skills and improve the level of our abilities, this sport develops our whole body. Some of our muscles are overactive, which is caused by our lifestyle or sports activities, for example.
Most climbers have overactive pectoral and back muscles. However, the pectoral muscles are not the most important in climbing, so a decrease in the strength of these muscles will not have a big impact on climbing, but stretching them can increase the range of movement in the shoulder and collarbone joint, protecting us from injury.
Warm-up versus stretching
So we know that the answer to the question of whether I should stretch before or after climbing is not so clear-cut. There is an ongoing debate as to whether stretching has more advantages or disadvantages, and when to do it.
However, it is worth considering whether the strength or flexibility of our body is more important in the sport we practice. An important part of our training is also the warm-up, practically in every sport, we should remember about it. It helps to warm up our muscles, which reduces the risk of injury.
Climbing is a sports activity in which, unfortunately, it is not difficult to get injured. Unfortunately, I don’t mean just unpleasant abrasions or damage to your skin on the rock or log – the so-called problem, but also more serious injuries to arms, legs, or back.
Other benefits of stretching
Stretching as an activity alone does not usually take a lot of time, sometimes about 10 minutes can bring beneficial effects to our body. There are several of these, and the most important are:
- Increasing body flexibility, as we age our muscles shrink and so our range of movement decreases. Stretching can weaken this process, let’s remember about that, especially with a sedentary lifestyle, especially at work.
- Improves blood circulation, during stretching, we oxygenate the whole body and stimulate blood circulation. Even after just a few minutes, you can feel a slight change.
- Relaxation of our muscles and tense muscles contribute to poor posture, and stretching allows us to work on the correct position of the body. If we stay in one position for a long time, e.g. sitting, our muscles shrink and tense
- Lowering the level of stress, stretching relaxes not only the body but also the mind. Thanks to performing slow exercises, we focus our attention on their performance, and we do not think about everyday problems. In addition, during stretching, the body releases endorphins, i.e. hormones which improve mood.
- It improves our sleep, if because of pain, for example, in the back, you can not fall asleep, instead of drugs you can try stretching. In the evening, it is worth doing a series of several exercises to reduce muscle tension and relax the mind, which will translate into a better quality of sleep.
As we can see, stretching affects many aspects of our body, from relaxation to oxygenation. However, we need to decide for ourselves if should I stretch before or after climbing. Each of us can find out what positive effects stretching has on us. And if the topic of warm-up and stretching is already familiar to you, in this article you can read about how long a climbing training session should last.
Climbing and the most common injuries
We already know that both warm-up and stretching are very important, and whether should I stretch before or after climbing. Sometimes, even though we do these activities regularly, we can get injured. Climbing is a sport that is quite demanding in terms of fitness and strength. Some of the most common injuries are:
- Sprained ankle or wrist
- tearing a muscle, e.g. ankle or shoulder muscle
- muscle contusion
- bruised knees or elbows
- in more severe cases, fractures of the arm or leg
Unfortunately, every climber is at risk of injury, regardless of the level of climbing. Beginners have to get used to the specifics of the sport, whereas advanced climbers sometimes face demanding and difficult routes.
In Summary – Should I Stretch Before Or After Climbing?
Whether we are bouldering or rock climbing, we need to remember to warm up as well as stretch. There is no definite answer to whether stretching is better before or after a workout, although we do know that depending on when we stretch, we can expect different results.
Climbing is quite a demanding sport, both fitness and strength come in handy here. Having learned about body stretching, we must therefore try on our own whether should I stretch before or after climbing. This will allow us to see for ourselves what is more beneficial for us.