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Mountain Climbing – Wrists and Ankles

Mountain Climbing is the latest addition to the next Olympic games. The buzz is already escalating, with Climbing Gyms popping up all over the country. In 2018, over 400 climbing and bouldering gyms have opened up in the US alone. That is more than 10% growth yearly in the last 3 years, and more than doubled in the last decade. While their focus is on the Climbing walls and boulders, other offerings usually include climbing on silks (long hanging curtains), handstands classes, and yoga for flexibility.

Climbing clothes and gloves are also becoming all the rage in the fashion industry, as we shall see more of in the coming years. For example, the high end outdoor clothing company Moncler has found its 2019 collection inspiration from one or the first female climbers, Henriette d’Angeville. In 1838 she climbed the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Swiss Alps. She had to climb in a dress, as it was illegal for a woman to wear long pants, but designed her own pair of pants under her dress. It is said that many female climbers who followed, left their dresses halfway up the mountains and picked them up again on their way down, so as not to get arrested.

For those starting to engage in climbing activities, there is a new wave of muscle awareness around the wrist and ankle joints, which we have never seen before. For a long time, most training activities have focused on the core, and these smaller muscle groups have completely been forgotten… until now!

Whether you are climbing mountains or not, wrist and ankle pain inhibit a lot of activities. The wrists are important for writing and using the computer, eating, doing dishes and holding on to bags, as well as pushing your bodyweight off surfaces. Weak and stiff ankles result in painful walking or running and loss of balance. Stiff ankles also occur from walking in shoes all day, and never walking in bare feet. Ankle stiffness limits other joints to move properly as well, since ankles are at the foundation of the body and needs to transfer body weight and information to the rest of the body.

Surprisingly simple exercises that can be done anywhere will help to alleviate this problem and also show results very quickly. Here are some of my favorites:

1: The wrist wave

2: Wrist circles

3: The “motorcycle” wrist stretch

4: Ankle circles

5: Heel raises

6: Toe raises

7: Foot Eversion stretch

Strong wrists and ankles are imperative along with a strong core to climb well, and there are some great exercises that strengthen and stretch these areas. For more exercises and a full scale climbing-training program, visit my website and my Youtube channel to see these strengthening stretches performed.

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