/ Dropping off the top of bouldering walls

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mountain.martin 10 Jan 2020

As a 55 year old, I always try and downclimb, on an easier line if I can reach one, if the problem was at my limit.

I do this to protect my aging back and knees, but am hoping it might have some benefits in terms of stamina and being improving my downclimbing, which is occasionally useful outside. Do you think there is much truth in this? 

Lots of people at the wall seem to just drop off from the top hold, as I probably would have done if bouldering walls were a thing 20 or 30 years ago. 

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subtle 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

> As a 55 year old, I always try and downclimb, on an easier line if I can reach one, if the problem was at my limit.

> I do this to protect my aging back and knees, but am hoping it might have some benefits in terms of stamina and being improving my downclimbing, which is occasionally useful outside. Do you think there is much truth in this? 

> Lots of people at the wall seem to just drop off from the top hold, as I probably would have done if bouldering walls were a thing 20 or 30 years ago. 

I tend to downclimb, always on easier / any line rather than jump - even on the ridiculous overhanging lines

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MischaHY 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

Knees are nice, so yes I tend to downclimb a bit if there's an option. Otherwise drop and roll parkour style. 

Downclimbing will indeed improve downclimbing ability by a small percentage, but don't expect any particular stamina benefits. Get on a circuit board if you want that! 

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deepsoup 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

> Do you think there is much truth in this? 

I sure there is at least a bit.

I downclimb when I can, when I can't I drop & roll like a parachutist.  My knees have been giving me a lot less grief since I stopped trying to land like a cat.  (This is one of the reasons I get so fcking impatient with people lounging around on the mats at indoor bouldering walls - just because they've left enough space for little rubber people like themselves doesn't mean they've left enough space for me!)

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AlanLittle 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

I'm in my late 50s and I tend to downclimb too. I welcome the increasing number of special downclimbing jugs appearing at my local walls.

But there's always a but ...

My dear old dad was crippled by osteoporosis for several years prior to his death. I worry if this might be hereditary, and in any case it's something I want to avoid. Somebody suggested to me that regular shock loading (e.g. by landing from jumps) might be a good bone growth/maintenance stimulus. Iirc that somebody was a physio so might even have had some real basis for saying it.

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steveriley 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

Same age and reasons. The downside is being less used to dropping off at height outside ...onto worse mattage

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douwe 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

I started to down climb at least a few holds when I noticed that during long bouldering sessions at the wall the jumping down / absorbing the shock part was getting the hardest part of the routine.Since then I've made a habit of it.

That said I can't stand the new trend in my local gym of people up- and down climbing in slow motion. WTF, finish the boulder and get off the mat please.

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cb294 10 Jan 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

The repeated shock loading that helps with osteoporosis prevention is called "running "or "walking on uneven ground". Sharp, isolated spikes from jumping down from height every now and then are much too infrequent.

CB

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afx22 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

I too try to downclimb as much as possible.  Not only do I want o protect by back but I'm convinced it helps my endurance, espcially on boulders that are near my limit. 

I also enjoy it and find it a good way practice technque.  For instance, is my downclimbing sequence the same as it was when I climbed up?  If not, which version was most effiecient?

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mountain.martin 10 Jan 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

> regular shock loading (e.g. by landing from jumps) might be a good bone growth/maintenance stimulus. 

Yes, I think the benefit of impact is quite well know, but as Cb says, I think running/jogging is probably a better solution.

I have no evidence to support this, but would seem to make sense that repeated small impacts would be better at encouraging strengthening than 10 falls from height.

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mountain.martin 10 Jan 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

> I welcome the increasing number of special downclimbing jugs appearing at my local walls.

Yes,these seem like a great idea, if you top out on a small hold, having a couple of jugs nearby that you can hang onto while you work out if there is a downclimb you can do or at least ensure that the landing is clear and you have a nice clean drop.

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Jon Greengrass 10 Jan 2020
In reply to MischaHY:

How is climbing up and down a boulder problem repeatedly in any different to climbing up,left,down,right  in circles on the circuit wall, unless you want to get better at traversing? 

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Jon Greengrass 10 Jan 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

> I welcome the increasing number of special downclimbing jugs appearing at my local walls.

my knees don't, I nearly dislocated/broke my knee cap on a huge sticky out jug while climbing a harder problem on a steep wall.

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sails_ol 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

I overheard someone say they broke their leg dropping from the top of a not very tall London bouldering gym.. so now I downclimb

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stevevans5 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

Also have no evidence to support this but drawing an analogy to strength/power/endurance training, would you not need larger impacts to build up the strength/resilience to cope with larger impacts, whereas lots of small impacts would build up a tolerance to a different sort of impact?

I almost always jump from the top, trying to land fairly softly and have always assumed that it would build up a tolerance to these impacts. My reasoning for this belief stems from when I had a broken ankle (unrelated to climbing) where the physio had me progress to quite high impact stuff (jumping on and off things on one leg) to ensure it all grows back strong enough 

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Philoosh 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

I have recently adopted the Louis Parkinson rule on dropping off a climb. 5 push ups if I fall from a move and 10 push ups if I fall on purpose. I've got 42 yr old knees so I don't like to fall ever. This self imposed torture just pushes me to hold on a little bit longer. Lol!

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Chris H 10 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

The best set walls IMO have routes finishing on a jug which replicates outdoors -ie the top - which leads to more flow and a nearby easier route to downclimb. The worst have sketchy holds finishing in the middle of nowhere with the choice of a desperate downclimb or an immediate jump off  .

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MischaHY 10 Jan 2020
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

What? He's on about down climbing single boulder problems, presumably well below limit if he's able to downclimb them. This would have little to no endurance training effect as the intensity is not high enough for power endurance and the loading is not long enough for aerobic endurance. 

Doing laps up and down a moderately hard boulder would certainly train mid-range endurance, but it sounds crap compared to a nice circuit. 4x4 on a harder boulder/s - sure. 

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MeMeMe 10 Jan 2020
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

I especially dislike it when they have a tenuous slab problem winding its way through a slab jug-fest...

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Fergal 10 Jan 2020
In reply to MischaHY:

Think about it if you are doing  a thirty boulder  problem circuit, thats thirty down climbs while pumped to varying degrees, i like to think it is great power endurance training and works those antagonists going down, the art is not to rest to much between problems, super pumped by the end. 

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carl dawson 10 Jan 2020

Eccentric training versus a knackered lower back? A no-brainer. Climb down.

I'd rather not fall from the top of a bouldering wall at my age so climbing up AND down each problem is often a necessity as well as superb training (though it's nice to have an easier descent nearby just in case. Well done the walls, such as The Depot, whose route setters show such intelligence design).

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In reply to mountain.martin:

I always climb routes with fairly safe downclimbs near them. I'm not climbing my dream routes in a beautiful location, I'm just training and don't need any additional risk/wear&tear.

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squarecow 11 Jan 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

Impact excercise does affect bone density so that physio would have had a reason to say that. I'm not sure dropping off a bouldering wall is the best way to achieve that though.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoporosis/prevention/

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Neil Williams 11 Jan 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

> I'm in my late 50s and I tend to downclimb too. I welcome the increasing number of special downclimbing jugs appearing at my local walls.

Yes, I like those too - useful both for downclimbing (which I'm rubbish at, so don't want to downclimb the actual problem) and as easy problems for warming up and for novices.

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MischaHY 11 Jan 2020
In reply to Fergal:

If the intensity is high enough then sure, but why not simply drop down and focus purely on up climbing? More specific, no tweaky down moves - it's definitely a better choice. 

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In reply to AlanLittle:

Maybe a happy medium would get both benefits? Downclimb a couple of moves and then jump?

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Si dH 11 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

I think the only problem with this approach is if it engrains a feeling of 'must not fall'. You don't want to be concerned about falling when you are actually climbing (bouldering) or you won't push yourself. 

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Dave Garnett 11 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

> As a 55 year old, I always try and downclimb, on an easier line if I can reach one, if the problem was at my limit.

I try to do circuits where I climb up at the hardest grade I can onsight most of the time and down the neighbouring route a grade easier, preferably with as little resting as possible.  Not sure what it specifically trains for but I think just jumping off is cheating!

Post edited at 11:12
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kipper12 11 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

When I used to Boulder, I tended to down climb when possible for the same reasons as others on here, my knees began to object.

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wbo2 11 Jan 2020
In reply to Philoosh:

> I have recently adopted the Louis Parkinson rule on dropping off a climb. 5 push ups if I fall from a move and 10 push ups if I fall on purpose. 

What's the rationale for this?  Genuine question.   One reason to never push yourself I guess..

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Dave Garnett 11 Jan 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

> I welcome the increasing number of special downclimbing jugs appearing at my local walls.

Yes.  It makes little sense to have a rule that you shouldn't jump off, and then not provide an easy way down.  It doesn't always need to be a special set of rungs - thoughtfully setting routes in groups with a range of grades including really easy can achieve the same thing - but sometimes (like where it's really steep) it does help.

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philhilo 11 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

Yep, same age same rationale, don't want to knacker any of the ankles, backs, knees so climb down as far as possible, good stamina and antagonist training. Route setters do try to put a good hold to finish on so there should be a row of jugs at the top to get back onto easier holds to downclimb.

I was doing a comp at a local bouldering wall and they had a problem on a slab where the crux was a rock up and across onto a nubbin foothold to reach the top hold. If you didn't get it - foot popped or lack of commitment or barn doored off the final hold then it was a long fall back down the slab. I took the fall 3 times and was absolutely battered the next day, felt like I had been in a rugby match. Didn't bother again, 3 'points' wasn't worth it. A good reason for doing routes (alas routes don't work so efficiently for training).

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Dave Garnett 11 Jan 2020
In reply to philhilo:

> A good reason for doing routes (alas routes don't work so efficiently for training).

I'm not sure about that.  I'm always feel it more the following day if I've been doing routes.  Depends what you more of I guess.

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oldie 11 Jan 2020
In reply to squarecow:

> Impact excercise does affect bone density so that physio would have had a reason to say that. I'm not sure dropping off a bouldering wall is the best way to achieve that though. <

I've always considered boulder hopping, eg along a beach, as probably good for balance, fitness and strengthening including bone. Quite enjoyable too. I've never liked exercise for it own sake.

Post edited at 16:15
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pasbury 11 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

Interesting topic, I (54 yr old) always try to downclimb as sloppily as I can, to preserve strength. I don’t mind dropping off from the top but only if I’ve chosen to. One example of an  unexpected dismount for me was landing while rotating and the mat held my foot so I ended up with a twisted knee.

There is an interesting dynamic about the height of bouldering walls. The higher ones are fun but must more make efforts to avoid injury from falling. The one I go to seems to do this subtly and very successfully (bloc bristol).

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Fishmate 12 Jan 2020
In reply to Chris H:

> The best set walls IMO have routes finishing on a jug which replicates outdoors -ie the top

The OP is discussing problems not routes. Outdoor problems seldom finish without topping out and rarely if ever on a jug in France or Spain, although sometimes in Switzerland.

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Fishmate 12 Jan 2020
In reply to Fergal:

> Think about it if you are doing  a thirty boulder  problem circuit, thats thirty down climbs while pumped to varying degrees, i like to think it is great power endurance training and works those antagonists going down, the art is not to rest to much between problems, super pumped by the end. 


PE development has to be nearer to your limit, therefore 30 problems would be addressing endurance more. If you are super pumped then that is a fitness issue. PE should be short and sweet and feckin balls hard ;)

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Fishmate 12 Jan 2020
In reply to mountain.martin:

The age thing is nonsense unless you happen to have an ailment or condition. You can have those at any age regardless. It all boils down to the physical condition you have bothered to attain. If all you do is climb then hey presto, use age as an excuse!

Either way, as SSB said above climb down a few moves and jump, that's my usual option, although I think downclimbing can be good for footwork and considering movement but not as specific training.

The important thing is to do what you are comfortable with.

Post edited at 23:39
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Philoosh 14 Jan 2020
In reply to wbo2:

Depends on your mentality. If you want to get better in all aspects then finishing is the reward, push ups are the punishment. If you don't push yourself, why bother in the first place?

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forarainydave 17 Jan 2020
In reply to wbo2:

> What's the rationale for this?  Genuine question.   One reason to never push yourself I guess..

It's more to break a "bad habit" of jumping off and saving his knees.

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