Warming up sucks. I get it. Listen to me when I say this. Being injured sucks more. So, for the love of god, don’t be a dingbat and take the time to warm up properly.
Today we are going to cover shoulders:
First things first. Time brush up on your shoulder anatomy: There are a lot of muscles in this joint that have small tolerances between them, making for a shitstorm if one or more of those little bastards get tight or hurt. When one muscle gets injured it can cause a cascading effect that can make your life miserable. The good news is there are a lot of ways to improve flexibility and mobility in the shoulder.
In climbers specifically, the teres minor takes a beating, all that sucking your hips into the wall and cranking on steep angles can get that baby as tight as a bowstring.
“Now, when most people think of the muscles of the shoulder, they probably think of the deltoids (anterior/front, middle, and posterior/rear) and the traps. While these are the biggest muscles of the shoulder and the ones that give that area of the body its shape, there are in fact many smaller muscles that are just as crucial to shoulder movement and health.
The Rhomboids and levator scapulae are muscles in the upper back that if left untrained allow the shoulder to slump forward and rotate inward – the classic “benchers shoulder”. The muscles of the Rotator Cuff are the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and trees minor, all of which contribute to the stability of the shoulder. Often in our training, these muscles get overlooked and take a back seat to traditional shoulder exercises for the deltoids.
Let’s face it – a stability based exercise for the tiny rotator cuff muscle subscapularis doesn’t sound as sexy as doing a heavy shoulder press to build massive front delts. But it’s this line of thinking that leads to imbalances and injury.”
I put together a list of my favorite shoulder warmup / strengthing movements. Most of these can easily be done without equipment an out at the cliff.
Exercise # 1 banded scapular engagement
These are great because you can bring a lightweight band with you climbing outside or to the gym and knock these out easy and fast.
Exercise # 2
Scapular rows and ring/barbell rows. These are a go-to for myself and some other climbers I know.
Exercise # 3
This guy seems a bit like a dingus, but he is right. not the coolest video but this stuff is key!
Getting injured is one of the worst things that can happen to an athlete, no matter the goals or level of training. We never want you to get injured because it can slow down your physical progress and more importantly, your motivation. With that in mind, here are a few tips and resources that are available to you to help prevent and treat the injury.
On top of these tips, live to fight another day! Rarely is it worth it to push through something small even like hand tearing to finish a workout…choose your times wisely (ie: make it worth it if you’re going to tear!) Longevity means a lot though and being more conservative with pushing through things can really pay off. Almost all of us under recover, so be careful with your training to not dig yourself into a hole that’s so deep it affects the rest of your week, or even longer! Also, recreational softball/baseball in the Denver area is attempting to kill our athletes so for the love of god, do something more dangerous to avoid the softball/baseball Mountain Strong curse!
This one seems obvious, but many people continue to work through minor pain and injury, even when they know it’s not helping the situation. If you absolutely cannot rest (we kind of doubt that’s true), just remember, there are always other movements you can do to work around ANY injury. Just notify your coach so that they can create a plan with you before the workout starts. You don’t have to use the rx weight or a weight heavy for you every day, in fact, most of the time the weight used in workouts should be a very low percentage. If you don’t have a coach to help you modify around an injury, consider getting one…many people think they can do it on their own, but there’s a reason literally every major athlete has a coach…
Do preventative exercises For shoulders: Iron Scap is one of the best tools we have found to make rock solid, bombproof shoulders the size of real life boulders. If you’re a Mountain Strong athlete and need some guidance here, ask a coach to take you through it the first time. We recommend doing them every day you are in the gym for a warm up, cool down, or whenever you can fit it in.
For hips: Use small thera-bands. Once again, if you have not used them before, ask a coach to take you through a few exercises or search “monster walk.” You’re welcome…and I’m sorry.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeB550DDOjg Lin Hill (Synergistic Movement) has a ton of great mobility and strengthening movements. Schedule an appointment with her so that she can make a personalized plan for you. If you don’t know what you’re doing and dealing with some sort of ailment, she’s probably a great use of a few bucks. Lift with proper form before adding weight.
Once again, an obvious but often looked over piece of advice is to focus on technique first, even if you are an experienced athlete. Make sure your form is solid before you being to load weight. Even light to moderate weight moved incorrectly can cause injury. If you are unsure, always ask a coach to check your form. No one’s form is perfect, but working towards perfection is an important focus to have. Use warm-up reps to set the tone of good movement for the day. Don’t just go through the motions!
Sleep and rest.
Sleep is essential for recovery and muscle gainzzzzz! We understand that life is busy but trying to have a consistent sleep schedule is important for improved performance and decreasing injury. Rest when your body needs it. Working out under fatigue can lead to an injury.
Lin is our in-house soft tissue therapist and has a variety of knowledge and tools to both prevent and treat injury. Lin uses fascial stretch therapy, the Lokte method, and muscle activation techniques. She can assess your movement patterns and give you therapeutic exercises for strengthening and mobility. She should be your first go-to in the event of an injury and can help you come up with a treatment plan.
Fix Performance MedicineDerrick specializes in functional movement, acupuncture, and fascial stretch therapy. He is an expert in his field and has extensive experience in keeping athletes healthy and treating injuries. Denver Sports Recovery (DSR). DSR is right down the road and has a variety of equipment and therapists designed for injury prevention and enhanced work out recovery. You can pay per visit or get a membership with them.