Climbing Conditioning Program 2011: Climber's Posture Correction PDF Print E-mail

Climbing Conditioning Program 2011 - Climber's Posture Correction

Column #132, 12th November 2011

“If we can optimise posture it will enhance our health.

If we can optimise our health it will enhance our posture”

Here is an excerpt from the Climbing Conditioning Program.  Read on if you are wondering whether posture is important and why it should be focused on in your Corrective Exercise Program.  A fascinating subject because it isn’t just about standing up straight and there are many surprising factors that influence our posture. In turn our posture and movements have a major influence on many other functions than your climbing performance, from digestion to joint pain.

Some Influential Factors on Posture

  • Occupation
  • Injury and Pain
  • Muscular Imbalances
  • Breath
  • Poor Sleep
  • Mental-Emotional
  • Sport
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise Technique
  • Fascia
  • Stress
  • And many more discussed in the complete eBook Program

Wow, that’s a lot of stuff and that’s because we are holistic in nature.  All our systems are integrated and we cannot separate body from mind.  The great part of this is that an appreciation of these factors and postural conditioning can create many positive health benefits.

What is Good Posture?

Posture can be described as static and dynamic.  Generally, this means standing or sitting in one position, but also in and out of positions, otherwise known as movement.  Our ability to maintain ideal joint alignment in various positions is essential for well-being.  No, this doesn’t mean we are to move like robots, it is about us being present and functional in our world.

Simply put, with good standing posture our body is stacked upright correctly.  In this position our muscle lengths and strengths are balanced and our joints are in the correct position for mechanical function.

Think of a tent pole that needs strong, balanced guy ropes to maintain an upright position.  If one guy rope is too tight and the opposite, too long, the pole will move out of position.  Consider that this happens to your spine when some muscles are too tight, long or weak.  In a compromised position the spine may be injured and the whole muscular-fascial-skeletal system will not be able to function as efficiently as possible.

Behind the Assessment

If we do not assess our posture before we embark on a training program then we are likely to exacerbate any existing imbalances and problems.  Many of our occupations involve a flexed position (sitting at a desk).  Climbing itself significantly challenges the anterior abdominals and a flexed holding position.  Purely from observing climbers that I have worked with, there is a common occurrence of an overly flexed thoracic spine (increased kyphosis).  When accompanied by a program that has too much focus on flexion (crunches) and not enough postural and muscular balancing, then we will probably only further encourage this postural distortion.  This can take us further away from neutral spine and typically lead to lower back, neck and shoulder problems.

Furthermore, identifying postural issues in one area of the body (for example at the pelvis) can cause pain or dysfunction somewhere else in the body (for example the knees and ankles).

Try this: Stand up and feel where the weight is through your feet.  Tilt your pelvis forward and feel the weight fall onto the inside and your ankles turn in.  Tilt your pelvis back (flatten back), and feel the weight on the outside of your feet.  This illustrates the influence of the pelvis on your posture.  If it naturally sits toward one of these ends of the extremes then it may cause faulty alignment in the spine, shoulder girdle, hip, knee, ankle foot……pretty much anywhere.

Why does posture get out of line?

There are many answers, but in addition to the demands of climbing, a key area to focus on is our daily actions and activities.  Do we have an occupation in which we have a repetitive movement, is there heavy lifting involved, do we play a one-side dominant sport?  A classic example is a checkout assistant, who may repetitively move a weight (groceries) from their left to right all day.  This twisting motion may cause a muscular imbalance and the person is left with a twisted posture as they are being pulled out of line.

Further causes of poor posture can be from any of the influences listed above.  For example, healed tissue following an injury may have more tension and create postural changes.  Scar tissue is not quite as good at the job as the tissue that was there previous to the injury. Pain can bring about compensatory patterns that change structure and movement patterns.  Jaw alignment (TMJ) can lead to postural shifts in other areas of the body.  To suggest just a few.

Enhancing Posture

There are many approaches to enhancing posture and many therapies that contribute.  During the workshops at Durham Climbing Centre and in the Climbing Conditioning Program eBook, I have mapped out all the exercises and techniques for enhancing your posture. These are the general steps we are looking to implement:

  1. Lengthen tight muscles to improve muscle balance
  2. Strengthen weak muscles to improve muscle balance
  3. Create a functional and activated core
  4. Increase endurance of postural muscles
  5. Re-learn functional movement patterns
  6. Train strong movements for daily/sporting requirements

Phase 1 is a great time to make as much progress on your posture as possible, but it really is an ongoing element of your conditioning and depends on your individual postural requirements.  Thank you for reading this excerpt of the book.

Attend Phase 2 Workshop, on November 16th 2011

Durham Climbing Centre hosts the Climbing Conditioning Workshops, with the attendees ready for Phase 2 on Wednesday 16th November, 2011.  To follow the program in full, watch this space for more articles, follow the facebook page, purchase the Program in the full eBook and hopefully I’ll see you at the Climbing Centre.


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Jack Walton
Written on Saturday, 12 November 2011 00:00 by Jack Walton

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