You are standing at the base of a route at your climbing gym. You notice wide stemming moves, high heel hooks and large step throughs. Looking up at the intricate sequences, you start to think maybe the route was set by a Cirque de Soleil performer. But you decide to give it a go. You stretch out your hips and shoulders, tie in and begin to climb. Midway up the route your body twists into a pretzel and you stretch to your limit. You see the next hold just inches away. You slowly reach your hand toward it fighting the stiffness and resistance in your body. You can barely reach. You curse at yourself for skipping Yoga class and for being one inch too short. Just as you are about to grasp the hold, your feet pop off and you blow the move. If only you were more flexible.
Flexibility is essential for rock climbing. It is what allows your body to adapt to the climbing wall. Most climbers know the benefit of flexible limbs (arms and legs) but forget about the importance of a flexible trunk (spine). Flexible limbs can help you reach further and step higher, but a flexible trunk will allow you to twist your body into difficult positions on the wall.
The trunk moves in three planes of motion; sagittal, frontal and transverse.
- Sagittal: Forward and Backward
- Frontal: Side to Side
- Transverse: Rotation
Of these three planes of movement, the transverse plane is the most limited in the body and also one of the most important planes of motion for climbing. Improving rotation flexibility in the transverse plane will free up additional possibilities for hold selection on the wall.
Check out the exercises and full article below as Brooke Raboutou demonstrates three exercises to improve your spine mobility for climbing. Perform the exercises for 3 sets of 30 seconds daily.