/ Upper Body Training Hypermobility

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bestofbritishjanet - on 22 Jul 2013
I wonder if anyone can help me. I have been climbing for about 5 years indoor and outdoor. My techique is ok (good feet anyway) and I can climb on sight about a 6C. I say about because a have a major problem with my upper body strength (lack of). I have been known to flash a 7a if it's mainly footwork, but anything that requires a halfway decent pull up - I'm hopeless. My feet come in handy but somtimes you do need to be able to pull yourself up (I cant lock off either). I am constantly trying to train my upper body, but make no progress at all. My Phiso has said that I am Hypermobile and I have "floppy" joints which is preventing me being able to start the motion of the pull up. (If I jump into it I can manage about 3 chin ups, no jump and I can't get my feet off the ground). Please has anyone else had this problem and worked out a training regime for climbing? Any thoughts welcome. Oh I cant do conventional push ups either because my arms bend outwards the wrong way (needless to say I have a strong chest, weak arms).
Kirill - on 22 Jul 2013
In reply to bestofbritishjanet:

Perhaps you could try doing chin ups on a low bar, so that at the start your elbows already bent at about 120 degree. With push ups, try doing them with your hands on a bench or a chair rather than on the floor.
Timmd on 22 Jul 2013
In reply to bestofbritishjanet:

I suppose another way of looking at it is your floppy joints are possibly stopping you from loading your elbow tendons too much, and helping to keep you from injury?

At the moment i'd be glad to be able to flash a 7a on footwork. (:-))

Though it's annoying you might end up seeing it as a blessing when you get to your 70s/80s and are still climbing 7a.

It strikes me that there may not be so much you can do to work around joint hyper-mobility, it's just another take on things...

Big Lee - on 22 Jul 2013
In reply to bestofbritishjanet:

Sorry if I'm stating the obvious here but can you not join a gym and lift some weights?
SteveRi - on 22 Jul 2013
I have Ehlers-Danlos. I can do (pathetically small numbers of) pull ups and hang small holds, so it hasn't particularly held me back for the work I was willing to put in. What I do know though is that I have a couple of permanently swollen joints and low level nagging pain. So, err, just be careful.
Timmd on 22 Jul 2013
In reply to SteveRi:
> I have Ehlers-Danlos. I can do (pathetically small numbers of) pull ups and hang small holds, so it hasn't particularly held me back for the work I was willing to put in. What I do know though is that I have a couple of permanently swollen joints and low level nagging pain. So, err, just be careful.

That's the angle I'm coming from, we have our bodies for life and climbing is only one part of the mix. Very addictive and all consuming at times, and rewarding too, but it's still only a part.

On any kind of route flashing 7a is pretty cool, the sign of a talented climber.

Kudos to you, OP. (:-))
Timmd on 22 Jul 2013
In reply to bestofbritishjanet:

Could you use some (minimal) foot support, and maybe have a pull up bar in one of your door frames and a foot on a stool or something like that, and do 'almost pull ups'.

If your joints are that hypermobile you might find that you can have joint problems more easily than if they weren't, I gather that pull ups and locking off are only of use on certain kinds of routes.

Getting a little bit stronger in that area will probably open up loads of routes for you, without you needing to actually be able to do pull ups and lock off.

Please take it steady, long term injuries are a pain (no pun!), you'd kick yourself if you found you couldn't climb like you used to from training injuries...
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rachhunt - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to bestofbritishjanet:

Hey, I'm a hypermobile climber too and have had exactly the same thing as you have described. This reply might turn into an essay, but to try and explain the experience I have had, I'd say it seemed to stem from a number of areas.

1. Arm strength
2. Shoulder Integrity
3. Back (Rhomoid) strength
4. Pectoral Strength

You said you have a strong chest, so that pretty much rules out number 4, and I would also say, from personal experience, that arm strength is not actually that big an issue. I had to concentrate on shoulder integrity and my back muscle.

Basically, whenever I do chin ups or press ups or anything that involves a significant portion of my weight being in arms/shoulders my joints stretch and lose their integrity. What I had to work on was the strength of the muscles which allow me to hold my shoulder blades down and in as this has the knock on effect of keeping the head of my shoulder back and in line with the rest of my body and makes it harder for my joint to overstretch as actually a lot of the weight is distributed across my back, rather than in joints which will sublux if I pick up a shopping bag too quickly.

What I did to gain this strength was not very different from normal climbing training, but I suppose I concentrated on different areas and techniques while doing so.

Traversing (especially on features walls and non juggy holds) has really helped with my hand and back strength. Any types of traverse route which require you to use some kind of compression, or finely balanced weight moves seems to have the added bonus for me that it keeps my shoulders down, with less chance of overloading a joint, but while being able to keep sustained tension in the muscles through my back. Has helped immensely.

Dead hangs making sure that you're not using tiny edges and running the risk of dislocating fingers are good for arm strength and stamina, but I also do reps of a certain number of seconds dead hang, and then finishing with slow controlled 'rolls' where I concentrate of moving my joints back into place to the point where I can engage the muscle and bend my elbow again. After a few months of doing this, I am now at the point where I can comfortably dead hang on slightly bent arms for good times, without my rhomboids/deltoids screaming after a few seconds. Seeing that when I do this my shoulders are not stretched was a lightbulb moment.

Planking. Even though most people use this for core, the length of time that you are sat on your elbows will, for a lot of hypermobile people anyway, feel like someone is sat on your neck as all your joints shift out of place. Doing shorter but more repeated reps of planking, all the while concentrating on holding my shoulders as square as possible, while keeping more core firm, has helped a lot.

Anyway, there is loads more stuff that I have found, and I could go on but I won't. But please feel free to get in touch if there's any other way that I could help.



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