/ Grip Strength, ouch!

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libertytoday - on 14 Aug 2013
hi
my girlfriend started an indoor climbing course and suggested i come along to see what it was all about.
i didn't intend to do much, but i jumped onto the bouldering wall for maybe 3/4mins.
i was shocked at how much it took out of my hands and wrists, they stiffed up and ached for hrs
i'm 37, slim build and pretty athletic (cycling/swimming) but obviously no forearm/grip strength :p
but yeah, i'm not sure whether to pursue too much further, i don't want to damage anything!
any advise to build strength, or to get eased in very slowly?
anyone else start late to the sport?
thanks
BnB - on 14 Aug 2013
In reply to libertytoday: 37! Late? Try taking up climbing at 50!!

After 4 months I can definitely feel the strength building (and the stiffness subside). Certainly not all the way there yet but progress is real. And I'm loving it.
hoodmonkey - on 14 Aug 2013
In reply to libertytoday:

Lots of sports exercise many of the muscles used in climbing, i.e. core, back and shoulders (for example gymnastics, swimming, martial arts), but I would say that very few, if any require the specifics of grip and finger strength in the way that climbing does.

Finger strength, footwork and general technique are the pillars of good climbing. Your fingers and arms will quickly adapt to the stresses, although getting strong fingers can take many years. You will see good progress from working on your footwork and technique will develop naturally. It's often useful to watch more experienced climbers for tips.

Finally, 37 is definitely not too late! Climbing is an individual challenge, where you set your own goals and targets, not a competition with anyone else, to that end, people of all ages, abilities and dispositions can and do enjoy it.

Good luck, I hope you continue to climb!
libertytoday - on 14 Aug 2013
thanks

are there any mild grip/forearm exercises you do between climbs?
this looked interesting? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j26rnqGvtMk

Ciderslider - on 14 Aug 2013
In reply to libertytoday: I discovered indoor bouldering at the tender age of 52 and am absolutely loving it - yeh, I'd love to be 30 years younger, but you've just gotta work with what you've got.
One of the things I like best is seeing the look on younger climbers faces when they realise that some old boys can still get up harder stuff.
hoodmonkey - on 14 Aug 2013
In reply to libertytoday:

Personally, I wouldn't bother. In the beginning climbing is the best way to improve your grip and finger strength.

After a few months or even years you may find it useful to use a fingerboard on the days you don't climb.

Some people may suggest basic exercises like picking up bricks or concrete slabs with a pinch grip, however, it's unlikely that as a beginner your finger strength is the limiting factor. The sensation you have described above is probably what's commonly known as being "pumped", where the forearms become hard to the touch and you are incapable of gripping. I'm certainly no expert but I believe this has to do with lactic acid build-up. Whatever, a few weeks/months of regular climbing and you'll get this under control.
needvert on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to libertytoday:

9/10 climbers make the same mistakes spends a lot of time in injuries. I agree with the book sentiment that you will get injured and have time off, but applies to cycling and most other sports too. But don't let that put you off...Old climbers are the healthiest people I know.

Your fingers are delicate, I'd just say don't try too hard in the first few months and rest up when things feel off.

I suspect the vast majority of people just start climbing and it all comes out just fine.


mattrm - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to libertytoday:

Just get out and climb. Once you've been doing it for a few months, you'll realise that it's really all about your feet. It's best just to climb a couple of times a week and let the strength build up. If you're slim and athletic already, you'll find you'll make big strength gains after a month or so.

Apart from a very small minority of climbers, most folk can't hang off small holds for more than about 10 seconds, before falling off.
jkarran - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to libertytoday:

Your first few sessions on the wall can be really rough on your skin, joints and muscles.

First things first, you don't need to be stronger at this stage, that will come with time. At this stage you need to be learning to balance and move efficiently and to listen to your body. Quit each session while you're ahead and you can go again in a couple of days, do too much and you'll regret it all week.

I'd start with the easiest problems, avoid small holds, jumps/slaps and the steep walls to begin with. Aim to be moving around with your weight over your feet and your hands as relaxed as they can be, you should be able to shift your weight to release any limb for movement at will. If a particular grip hurts try moving your hands around to take the hold differently and shift your weight around so you need less grip from that hand. I know it's not as much fun as swinging around on the big roofs from day one but you'll learn faster, build strength progressively and you'll do yourself less harm in the process. As you get better you can apply your new skills to harder problems refining them and tailoring them to new holds, shapes and wall angles as you go. There's always more to learn.

If you get joint pain rest it, if rest doesn't fix it then see a physio before it gets bad. Climbing can be pretty tough on the body and time out injured once you're addicted is incredibly frustrating.

jk
libertytoday - on 15 Aug 2013
good replies; i'll maybe give it another go. starting to feel better after a few days rest. i think i was going a bit gung ho for those few mins i was on.

traditionally i have a bit of pain in my arm/wrist from being a 9-5 computer operator. never been diagnosed with anything but you know your own body
think i just need to take it slowly.
Ciderslider - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to libertytoday:
> good replies; i'll maybe give it another go. starting to feel better after a few days rest. i think i was going a bit gung ho for those few mins i was on.

Typical bloke, we are all the same ;-) We jump on stuff and haul ourselves about on our arms (it's very difficult to control the inner school kid - god knows I'm still trying).

Also bouldering is a really really intense work out and you just don't realise how hard until you've overdone it.

but you know your own body (absolutely, and generally it let's you know what's going on)
> think i just need to take it slowly. Especially with bouldering as you need to rest sufficiently between intense problems.
Also your body will need a little time to adapt, so don't push it too hard or you'll get injured (coz it doesn't matter how strong you are the weakest link is all that connective tissue)

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