Whether you are new to climbing and only climb on the weekends or you are a seasoned climber that climbers 5-6 days a week, you may be looking for ways to make climbing more sustainable.
Your health is one of the most important parts of making climbing sustainable.
In order to help you be more healthy while climbing, I’ve included five things that you need to start doing today. Each of these items are different aspects of climbing that isn’t always considered when reviewing the health of a climber. With that being the case, I hope they are new ideas to you and if you have other habits that you recommend please share them with us.
Snack On Protein Before And After Your Climbing Session
Protein is an important nutrient that climbers need to consider while climbing.
Many climbers that climb because it is fun and don’t focus on the physical development that comes from climbing, often neglect or don’t consider the nutrients that they need to support their climbing sessions.
“No matter your height, weight, or sex, ALL athletes (including climbers) should aim for about 120 grams of protein daily, divided as evenly as possible into 20-gram servings that are themselves separated by around three hours.”Climbing.com
Snacking on almonds or a protein bar (20 grams) before your climbing session and a granola bar (another 20 grams) after your climbing session can make your climbing habit more healthy and get you closer to that 100-120 grams of protein.
Scrub Your Feet
Foot health may not be at the top of your list when it comes to climbing, especially if you compare them to your hands. However, it is also one of the more neglected aspects of climbers’ health and thus, made the top of this list.
It is important to not only think about the toe cramming effects that climbing shoes have on your foot health but also the blisters, calluses and dead skin that accumulates on most climbers feet.
If you have ever taken your foot out of your climbing shoe and had dead skin peeling off, then you may need to focus more on your foot health.
Scrubbing your feet and removing dead skin not only helps make your feet healthier but it also minimizes the chance of making your shoes smell bad. Dead skin is a common food source for bacteria growth, a common cause of shoe odor.
You can scrub your feet with a pumice stone or even a scrub towel in the shower to get dead skin removed. If you have really calloused feet, you may want to consider a foot grater or something like that a well.
Many climbers notice an immediate difference in the way their feet look and feel after scrubbing them. It is important to stay on top of the health so consider adding feet scrubbing to your shower regimen.
Check The Weather
There have been so many times that I noticed the sun was out so I drove out the mountain to start climbing with friends only to have it rain or snow on us halfway through the climbing session.
Many times when climbers are in this situation, they have to decide whether or not to end the climbing session or to climb through the weather. However, depending on the weather, you may be at risk of not only getting sick (getting stuck in the rain or snow will do that to you) but also the risk of slipping and falling, mudslides, flash floods, avalanches, etc.
Climbing in the rain and snow usually isn’t worth the risk. With that in mind, many climbers decide to hike back to their car and go home but even that has its risks. Hiking in the rain and snow can be risky as well when it comes to slippery trails, steep dropoffs if you slip, and the same risks of getting sick, mudslides and flash floods, etc.
The ideal situation is that you avoid those situations. It isn’t possible to avoid it 100 percent of the time, but by taking five minutes to read the weather before you make your way to the crag will help you avoid it as much as possible.
Keep in mind that you will need to check the weather for where the crag is and it won’t necessarily be the same weather as your home/current location.
Wash Your Hands
It is important to wash your hands before and after climbing.
According to the Center for Disease Control, “keeping your hands clean is the most important step we can take to avoid getting sick.” This will help decrease your chances of spreading germs to other people and from bringing germs home.
Whether you are at the climbing gym or at the crag, you should always bring hand sanitizer with you just in case there isn’t a bathroom with running water and soap. Hand sanitizer is relatively cheap and easy to get in a small package, so there isn’t a good reason not to have it on you at all times.
Spreading germs, washing your hands also helps remove chalk. Chalk left on your hands can cause chapped skin and additional drying. Obviously, in this context, hand sanitizer isn’t the best option, but it is better than nothing at all so consider using hand sanitizer until the opportunity to use soap and water is provided.
In addition to preventing drying your hands out, washing your hands also decreases the amount of chalk in your car and at home. Since chalk isn’t ideal for clean clothes or clear lungs, washing your hands is worth the extra minute required for it.
Warming up is one of the first things you should do before you start climbing.
There are so many climbers on social media and YouTube that say they don’t warm-up and it makes some people think that they don’t need to warm up either. However, warming up will not only decrease your chances of injury (as we all know) but it will also increase your performance.
Warming up is a common practice for professional climbers. If a professional climber gets injured, they won’t be able to do their job while they are recovering. From that perspective, it makes sense that professionals warm-up, especially since they probably push themselves pretty hard during training sessions.
Casual climbers that have a day job and only climb on the weekend should warm up just as much as professionals that climb every day.
Climbing injuries rang from finger tendons hurting to needing shoulder surgery so even if you don’t push yourself while climbing, you are still at a higher risk of injury and should warm up to decrease those odds.
In addition, without warming up, you won’t be able to perform to the best of your abilities and thus you won’t be able to improve as quickly or easily. Performance isn’t commonly talked about when it comes to warming up and that is probably because the people who get injured are the ones writing blogs about warming up to prevent their demise.
However, warming up is an important aspect of climbing performance.
Warming up makes your muscles more pliable, able to move in more directions and for longer. However, warm muscles are also more accurate when it comes to proper feedback on your position and muscle capabilities.
With more accurate information about how far you can push your body without injury, the better you are able to push yourself.
This also has the added benefit of enhancing your mental game.
The information that your muscles provide you when they are properly warmed up will help you understand what movement you are able to make and for how long you can maintain that position. So you will have the enhanced mental game from knowing how hard to push, as well as the enhanced mental game of feeling at ease pushing yourself when you know your muscles are warm.
Whether you climb professionally or casually on the weekends, considering your health while climbing is an important aspect of the longevity and sustainability of your climbing regimen.
There are multiple things that you can do to help stay healthy while climbing.
Above are five things that you may not have thought about before, scrubbing your feet every day, checking the weather, washing your hands before and after each climbing session, snacking on protein and warming up before climbing.
Have you tried any of the above? What works best for you?