Should I only do dynamic mobility exercises as part of my warm-up? Recent studies suggest that static stretches temporarily relax the muscles and reduce power output. If this is the case then I will need to re-think my warm-up routine!
—Jed Beers | Salt Lake City, UT
A lot of sports research is compiled for activities that bear little resemblance to climbing. In rowing, cycling or power-lifting, for example, there is less need for flexibility—it is all about raw power output, and anything that compromises power should be questioned. But climbing is much more about skill, co-ordination and the ability to express power in different ways. Put simply, high steps and wide stems are facilitated by static stretching. Minimize the amount of static stretching for the arms, neck and shoulders. For example, stretch each muscle group once or twice and don't hold the stretches for too long (eight to 10 seconds). Different bodies will respond in different ways and it is important to experiment, and to see what works best for you.
Before climbing use a combination of static and dynamic exercises for your legs. Prioritize dynamic exercises (finger clenches and shoulder circles) for your upper body with a minimal amount of static stretching. Keep in mind that building the intensity of the climbing gradually over the day is far more important for injury-prevention and warming up than stretching.
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