Clever Ways to Improve Balance for Rock Climbing

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The reason you can stand upright without simply following over isn’t just a feat of gravity and your own coordination. Your sense of balance is the reason you can ascend, reach, grasp, grip, and keep moving with strength and agility when you climb.

How Does Balance Work?

Your eyes are constantly intaking visual cues about your position in relation to the things around you while your skin, muscles and joints are additionally sending feedback to your brain. And most importantly, your inner ear canal, like a level you might use to evaluate if you hung a painting straight, is filled with a fluid (endolymph) and sensory hair cells that react to vertical and horizontal motion, constantly relaying to the brain a spatial awareness of the head in relation to your position and gravity.

How can balance fuel stronger, more agile rock climbing? A large part of the equation is understanding your own center of gravity and how you can use it towards your advantage to activate and propel your body, and extend your own time to fatigue when climbing.

Finding Your Center of Gravity

Defined as a force which attracts your body towards the center of the earth, gravity is just that, a force. It is important to remember that your entire weight is taken into account when gravity is applying its force towards you – and that force is concentrated on your own center of gravity.

The easiest way to physically locate your center of gravity is to stand tall, point one finger on your belly, about a couple inches below your navel. Imagine a line shooting straight through that point all the way out the back of you. The midsection of that line through you is your center of gravity. If you are overweight with a protruding midsection, your center of gravity will be forward somewhat.

So knowing where your sense of balance comes from and how to find your center of gravity, check out these clever balance exercises which can improve your rock climbing performance:

Wobble Cushion & Stability Balls

Inflatable rubber balls and discs which challenge your balance to help you strengthen core, leg and foot muscles, as well as practice making quick and effective balance adjustments with simultaneous muscle groups. Not only can you use stability balls and balance disks to sit and stand on while working on the computer or watching TV, for example, but integrated into an existing fitness regimen, they can add fun and challenging balance practice to your workout.

Be Aware of Your Own Center of Gravity

Many people have misconceptions about their center of gravity being much higher than it is, and their own corrections and adjustments are labored accordingly. This ultimately requires more energy than is really needed when working out, playing sports, and especially, rock climbing. Using the technique mentioned above and becoming mindfully aware of your center of gravity can power more efficient and stable movements when you climb. Some climbers also recommend hanging a 2-foot draw from your harness and adjusting your movements as you climb to make sure that draw falls straight and center between your legs.

Practice Good Posture

Your posture off the wall could power strong balance on the wall. How? Bad posture seems to pervade the average American day which is often spent sitting (at work, watching TV, on mobile devices, etc). A compressed spine and tense, inflamed muscles and ligaments create an overall sore and stiff back and core region that throws off your body awareness and center of gravity. By practicing good posture, sitting up straight and lengthening the spine and stretching adjacent muscles and connective tissues, you fuel strong, limber muscles that make snappier balance adjustments and power greater flexibility when climbing.

Climb with One Leg

Take a note from the wise and inspiring Craig Martino who shared on Climbing.com how having to climb with one leg after a tragic accident reawoke his sense of balance and taught him new techniques and knowledge about optimizing sense of gravity. By hopping or pogo-ing from one-foot hold to the next with just one foot, you hone in on accuracy, optimize on your own momentum and mass, and become more aware of the muscle groups you activate and adjust when climbing.

Positioning your body efficiently, whether you’re climbing a vertical wall or an overhang, involves maintaining balance against the wall to take the weight of your hands and arms and make your next move easier. Fine-tuning your balance awareness and routinely practicing balance exercises will extend your time to exhaustion and boost your climbing performance like never before.

Thank you for this article; Joe Fleming : Email joefleming.vivehealth@gmail.com