Round 67

Q: Hi Eric, First–and I’m sure you get this a lot–thank you for all of the wonderful information. I have been climbing for about 15 months, and using your training tactics (from your books and this web site), and my own personal drive, I have really made some outstanding gains in my climbing performance. My mental state has seen dramatic improvement, and I’ve learned to climb only for my own satisfaction, which has truly helped me make considerable improvement. Recently, I have come to recognize that I struggle with moves that require a lot of core strength and tension. I have a strong core (I can hold front levers for nearly 10 seconds), but making these core-tension moves on steep walls has really been a limiting factor for me. I was wondering if you may have some advice or practicing information that can help me to really excel at these steep wall moves. –Brent (New York)

A: Thanks for the kind words, Brett. Sounds like you are strong, so I wonder if technique is your bigger problem (especially since you’ve only been climbing 1.5 years). Optimal body positioning for utilizing your core (and other) strength is subtle, and a few degrees of twist, for example, can make a huge difference. To practice, I suggest you do some traversing on moderately overhanging indoor walls. Experiment with different amounts of body twist and tension as you traverse the wall. Lead with your feet and learn how tightening and twisting “connects” the hand and foot holds to make it all work. Experience will make you super strong on the rock!

Q: I have been climbing for just over 6 months at a local gym, and I top out around V3 and V4 bouldering problems. I feel like recently my progress has been stunted and I’m no longer improving at the rate I want. Any tips for this novice climber to keep pushing up the grades? –Sam (Wisconsin)

A: Hi Sam, Sounds like you’ve done very good for yourself, given only 6 months of climbing. It’s important to recognize that improvement is not steady, but comes in spurts. Climbing is a VERY technical activity (kind of like golf) and it takes YEARS to develop the vast skills and subtle intuitive sense needed for pptimal performance. Most beginners hit a plateau because they focus on one kind of climbing. Therefore, I encourage you to do more roped climbing—the goal is to learn to string many hard moves together, not just a few as in bouldering. Practice up and DOWN climbing roped routes (a great training drill). Also, try to get outside climbing some, so as to broaden your base and experience. All these things will feel hard at first–but that’s a sign you are learning. In months to come it will pay off and you’ll be climbing harder than ever!

Q: About 1.5 months ago I was bouldering indoors with my mountaineering boots and a light pack on and my feet popped off a low hold. I held on for a fraction of a second too long and mildly strained my shoulder (rotator cuff muscles). What exercises would you recommend to rehab and strengthen my shoulders? –David (England)

A: Hi David, Internal and External Rotation are the two key exercises to strength the smaller muscles of the Cuff. Click here to see these exercises. Do some push-ups and shoulder presses to strengthen the larger muscles around the shoulders. Do these 3 days per week, and your shoulder joint feel better and function stronger within a few months. Until then, be careful!

Q: Hello, Recently, while climbing in the Sinks, I pulled on a two finger pocket, my feet cut, and I weighted my two fingers with 100 percent of my weight. Immediately there were 3-4 pops in my wrist, followed by slight inflammation and pain. Now pain occurs when I make random movements using my fingers. This will be my fourth week off of climbing. Do you have suggested amount of time I should wait before I attempt to return to climbing? Should I see a doctor or play the wait and see game. Thanks for any suggestions. Cinda (Nevada)

A: Hi Cinda, Sorry to hear about your injury; the situation you describe is actually surprisingly common. Ultimately, pain has to be your guide as to how severe the injury is. A mild case would improve in a few weeks off from climbing, whereas a more severe tear might take months to improve. If you’ve taken a month off already, then you might try to return to non-maximal climbing and see how it feels. As a rule very slight pain is okay during your return to climbing, however, sharp pain or lingering pain (at night) is a bad thing that indicates the injury hasn’t healed. In this case, you might want to consult a doctor. BTW, daily stretching and light finger exercise (non-climbing) is good to stimulate recovery. Of course, don’t do anything that causes anything more than slight pain.