You need shoulders to climb. Surprise. You need strong shoulders. I mean strong in the sense they will not easily injure. For the shoulder joint specifically, that means balance. Get disproportionately strong in a narrow range and you’re begging for problems. And unfortunately, there’s no dedicated group of impassioned professionals committing their careers to the study of chronic bouldering injuries. So learn from the lessons taught to athletes in other sports. For example, swimmers. If you’re not a swimmer, observe – they have big backs and big shoulders. That should remind you of someone. I swam in high school and continue to train in the pool now, in hopes this will benefit my general fitness in such a way my climbing may be improved. There’s a problem: while runners train a set of body parts mostly neglected by the type of movement we experience climbing, swimmers work the same. So my running and cycling friends alternate healing to a degree – while their arms are sore from yesterday’s bouldering session, they’ll hammer on their legs for a bit. Swimmers do not enjoy this same cycle. But there’s a benefit: boulderers don’t want, and swimmers don’t have, big legs. In my opinion, it works out to about equal. Personally, the scale tips toward swimming as my extracurricular activity simply because I enjoy it. I’m digressing – watch out for your shoulders. As someone who climbs and swims, I pay close attention to the condition of mine. And when it comes to advice, I look at what the swim coaches have to say. This brings me to the point of this post – I found a really good article from USA Swimming: Shoulder Injury Prevention
Climbing lessons – from a Burger King Whopper:
I’ve been falling on this project for quite some time. Atreyu has already taken much longer than anticipated and I’m still not done. Be the angry onion. There are levels to climbing performance, as I’m sure there are in any sport, which require us to change dramatically before passing. Before such a change we feel a plateau in performance. That extra little bit of juice needed to edge past this lull in progression can come in a variety of ways, such as increased training volume, training intensity, or mental focus. As far as performance stimuli go, mental focus has been the most interesting to me as of late. Enter the ‘angry onion’. I think sometimes about the last little bit of business on Atreyu, this big-ass throw to a crimp after what amounts to a pumpy 5.13a. Its hard to motivate for that throw. And that’s lame. That makes me a wanker. As if climbing isn’t hard enough without your mind preventing your body from doing what it should, I’ve sabotaged myself for more than a few days by letting my thoughts get out of control. Yeah, the move’s hard. Sure, I’m tired. What do I expect? It’s a hard route and representative of the style of climbing I enjoy most. There’s nowhere else I would rather be than confidently throwing for that hold after climbing through some of my favorite moves on rock. And I know I can do it. So what’s the problem? Answer: I haven’t been the angry onion. The next level waits for me beyond my current mental stage. Before I get to climb harder routes I need to own this one, and this route is summarized in one move – that long, right-hand throw around a gently rounded bulge to a positive crimp. When I get angry enough to set up for that last move, hands matched on that sloping rail, and kick up knowing – knowing – I will hit and hold the crimp, then I can move on. It’s going to take a little more focus. I’m going to need to be the angry onion for a minute.
…and this one’s rad too: