Yoga For Crack Climbers
(From someone who doesn’t know much about yoga)
Stretching makes you a better rock climber.
I would bet a six pack any day of the week (except Sunday because I live in Utah and the liquor store is closed), that every person who trains climbers agrees with me. Stretching also feels good, and Yoga is kind of like an extended stretching routine.
When unbelievably sore from a long day out climbing, Yoga is a great way to release those sore muscles and feel centered again. Rock climbing works those little muscles, the ones around your hips and your shoulders, the ones surrounding your rib cage and your calves. And, fortunately, yoga is great for those!
I’ve been doing Yoga a long time as a companion sport to rock climbing, but in all that time I’ve never learned the names of any of the poses. So here is my list of Yoga (kind of?) poses that are great for rock climbing! They feel good, and they help with muscle memory and body positioning while on the rock.
Aka Calf Locking While Reaching For Your Cam
This pose is called Crescent Lunge with some kind of bind thrown in there. However, it’s also the exact same body positioning as calf locking. Most crack climbing requires you to keep one foot high and the other foot low, so lunges of all kinds are really helpful for practicing the body positioning needed.
When teaching calf locks, I have so many people tell me they aren’t flexible enough. But if you can do this stretch, then you can calf lock! You are flexible enough!
Aka the only thing that will relieve your pump
Over gripping, trying hard, or just being super pumped in general can make your forearms feel like they’re dying. This stretch is just super helpful for relieving the pump and making that horrible feeling go away. It’s also super important for tendon health. If you can’t do this stretch right away, you can start with one hand turned back, and then slowly move up to two.
Tree Pose Aka Crack Climbing Flow
This is my favorite yoga pose, because it so perfectly captures the body positioning for crack climbing! When people first arrive at crack climbing, they move very stiffly just like they are climbing a ladder. But crack climbing should be flowy, more like swimming. You move your limbs in repetition, one, and then the other, and then back. Essentially you are transitioning from one tree pose to another. And the same principles apply to your climbing that apply to a good tree pose: keep your bottom leg strong and balanced, tension your inner thigh to keep you upright, clench your core, and press into your hands above you.
Goddess Pose Aka Release The Hips
This pose actually has no direct correlation to any rock climbing positions I know of, BUT, it feels amazing on your hips and shoulders. After a long day of crack climbing this pose stretches out the tight and rarely used muscles in your groin and all the way down your back. Take a few breaths dipping into each shoulder and really feel the stretch through your hips and upper back. If it feels absolutely amazing, you’re doing it right.
Butterfly Aka Foot and Hip Openers
Butterfly is another really good pose for opening your hips, feet, and ankles. Crack climbing asks a lot of your ankles. Primarily it asks that you stand up straight on them while they’re turned in at a 90 degree angle. Similar to how you can hold and press open your feet in butterfly pose. This pose can help you stretch your ankles to increase mobility. It’s also a great way to practice keeping your feet high while in challenging finger cracks. In hard finger cracks, you often need to keep your feet and knees much higher than you think. And butterfly pose helps with hip mobility!
A few more resources…
I’m a sucker for a youtube Yoga Video. Whenever the weather is too bad to go climbing, or I’m just feeling antisocial, YouTube is there for me with good yoga content.
Here are a few Yoga for Climbers videos that I think really help with the body positioning of the sport.
Cover photo credit: Kaya Lindsay
About the Gear Tester
Kaya Lindsay is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker with a passion for rock climbing and the outdoors.
In 2016 she converted a Sprinter Van into a tiny home and has been traveling around the US & Canada to pursue her passion for rock climbing. Since hitting the road she has begun a career in filmmaking and is currently working on her One Chick Travels series, highlighting solo female travelers who live and work to pursue an adventurous lifestyle. Her films have been highlighted by major brands such as Backcountry and Outside TV. To fulfill her passion for writing, she chronicles her many adventures in her blog. Professionally, she writes for the adventure sports company Outdoor Prolink and The Climbing Zine. Kaya hopes to spend many more years in her tiny home on wheels, Lyra, and is currently living in Moab Utah.