Monday, September 26, 2011

Handstand offset

Bouldering involves a lot of pulling through the hands and arms, shoulders and back.

When I began, and even up until recently, I think the problems weren't that stressful on my joints, simply because they weren't that hard - even if it took me a while to get them sent!

Recently I've been trying to up my game, and try more difficult problems. The intensity of the moves can cause stress, specifically at the board.

Suddenly, the problems are stressful on my elbows, wrists and fingers.

The guys had spoken in the past about having a 'want' to succeed. I suppose it's easy to step off a problem and say 'ah well, next time'...

Yes, the problem will be sent eventually, but what about sending it this attempt, right now!

There has to be a want and a determination there. A fight to put right a slightly missed hand or foot placement, a determination to keep moving. I'm getting into the idea of 'waging war' on these problems. More often than not these days, I slip off, rather than step off a problem.

All this, added to the fact that I'm not 15 anymore, means that repetitive strain injuries are definitely on the cards.

I've begun finger board sessions too and my elbows aren't too fond of them!!

That is, unless I do handstands to offset the stress I'm putting on my elbows, wrists and shoulders.

A properly held handstand is the opposite of bouldering, as far as I can see.

Instead of pulling my weight, I'm pushing it.

My forearms are contracted when I'm climbing, causing them to get pumped.

Handstands stretch out the forearms and wrists, and when held with totally straight arms (as they should be) give me great relief in my elbow joints. A strong handstand will see the shoulders pushing the body away from the arms, so as they're completely extended.

In a really good handstand, one's toes should be as far away from one's hands as possible.

So if a handstand is held against the wall, (face in), the toes should be pushed as high up the wall as they can be. If held for a minute or so, this position is also a pretty major core workout.

So between sets of reps on the finger board and after every training session, I'm doing handstands in an attempt to offset the stresses and strains, primarily on my elbows.

So far it's working a charm, as any niggles I feel during a session seem to disappear and fizzle away after the few handstands I do...

I suppose it could be said that it's not only handstands that help, but just generally stretching...

But for my money, there's something in a handstand that seems to save my elbows in particular.


  1. Handstands ehhh... Must get practicin',

  2. how useful! Naomi has noticed that issue that we as climbers can't pull our wrists back easily - put your arms out in front of you horizontally and then pull hands back so that they should go vertical. Easy if you're not a climber. I'm sure you're fixing that lack of flexibility with handstands, a nice side benefit of doing the exercise?

  3. Definitely, I noticed that wrist inflexibility happening, and it was in Spain that Squib said to me to take care of it getting any worse...

    I've always done handstands, but now they're a definite part of my training session.

    Just to offset what I've done - I also find push ups are great... but I can only do 10, they're a bit of a struggle!! :(

  4. you just need someone shouting at you while doing push-ups, military style and you'll up that number to 20 or so pretty quickly ;o)
    I can't bend wrists back at all, pretty funny to watch me trying....

  5. There's not a hope of me doing a handstand, but I had a few niggles like that and they went away after I started doing push ups and tricep dips. Also it's important to do work for your lower back muscles so your your abs don't get too much stronger and put your midriff out of balance too.