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What I Learned From Three Years of Rock Climbing

29 November 2014 Las Cruses, New Mexico

If in doubt, take a day-off, climb at a lower grade or just work out. It’s better to miss a day, than a couple weeks or months.

Finger pulley injuries are by far the most common and dangerous types of injuries in climbing. Warm up your fingers properly. Let go when holding on becomes dangerous. Know when to let go.

Most injuries happen from crimping too hard for too long. Learn the open hand grip. Only crimp when you can’t open hand. Avoid crimpy routes when your fingers are already sore. Learn how to let go when crimping becomes dangerous.

Do it before your climbing session. It should not be hard, strenuous or long. You should enjoy and look forward to it. Start with easy stretching, continue with climbing the routes that are easy and get you going.

Remember, you get better at climbing when you rest. It’s a strenuous activity, give your body plenty of time to recover. You should feel motivated and focused. If you don’t, try resting more. If you are not recovering well and feel sore all the time, try resting more. If you are not sure if you should be resting more, you should.

While it is very important to take plenty of rest, it is just as important to train consistently and follow your routine. If you are well rested and still don’t feel like training, do it anyway. It doesn’t have be a long, hard or punishing session. Make your training on such days as enjoyable as possible. Do your favourite routes, take plenty of rest between routes, do you favourite finger board exercise, do something you are really good at. Often you find that the hardest part on such days is to start. If after a couple of routes or exercises, you still don’t feel like doing anything, go home and rest. Come back the next day and do it again.

Everyone has weaknesses. It can be anything: weak open hand or crimping grip, overhang or stemming routes, small crimpy holds or slopers, being inflexible, not comfortable with big moves, scared of climbing over the last clip, not comfortable on certain walls. Make sure you know your weaknesses and find the ways to work on them. Is it your endurance? Climb the routes multiple times in a row with very little rest in between. Is it your power? Boulder the overhanging routes.

Talk to other climbers in the gym about training, ways to improve, ask what keeps them motivated, discuss the routes you are working on. Help new comers. Be nice and friendly. Find people who are better than you and try to learn from them.

Find ways to enjoy your climbing sessions and workouts as much as possible. Tired of climbing the same routes? Try a different gym. Finished a very hard route that you had been working on for a while? Celebrate the success by going home early and having a delicious dinner with your family.