When we talk about climbing, we are talking a lot about forces – forces of friction, forces of gravity, the force that you yourself exert on various holds as you push and pull up the cliff. Without becoming completely Newton, let’s just say that all of these forces are working together to propel you up that wall. But there is one component of climbing that is often underestimated: balance.
You might have Superman backbones, but if you don’t think about balancing your body on the wall, you’re not climbing effectively. Without proper balance techniques, you might put unnecessary strain on your muscles trying to fight your way up, struggling against your own center of gravity the entire way. Concrete example: balance was the climber’s key Craig De Martino, who had to relearn how to climb after losing his right leg in a bad fall (and wrote a great article about it for Climbing.com, which you should read).
So let’s be specific. Here are three reasons why balance is vital for climbers, along with some tips on how to put what you’ve learned into practice. In other words: bring balance to the force, scale the Jedi.
Using your center of gravity will keep you on the wall. In rock climbing, gravity is your number one enemy, but it can also be your friend. To avoid swinging or falling, the weather must be fine. Being aware of your center or gravity allows you to counterbalance, using your own weight to maintain balance and stay on the wall. First, find your center using a trick that DeMartino and many other climbers recommend: hook a two-foot drawbar to your harness and, as you climb, keep the drawstring straight down the center between. your legs.
Balance is the foundation of all of your favorite techniques. Stemming, flagging, lay-backing, and more are all counterbalanced. In general, try to keep your hips against the wall and your arms straight, letting your legs fight gravity. In the Masterclass he teaches alongside Tommy CaldwellAlex Honnold goes so far as to say, “The point of using your arms in rock climbing is to keep yourself balanced on your feet, so that your feet can push you over the wall. “
Balance saves energy so you can climb higher and longer. Senior competitive sport climber Lynn Hill favors balance over strength. “A lot of the women I’ve taught to climb have a better sense of balance than the men,” she once said. “I think it has to do with being a little more sensitive rather than relying on strength. It’s also a reflection of a passive attitude: balancing your way up the boulder, rather than attacking it. You’re not going to do push-ups on the Presidential Fitness Test. Relying on brute force to fight your way up to the wall will only tire you out. Instead, improve your balance with stability exercises, like those by The Climbing Doctor, Dr Jared Vagy and world famous climber Jon Cardwell. As you improve your balance and stability, you can climb more efficiently, allowing you to rock those tough endurance climbs.
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