When you’re looking to add value to your workouts, yoga and climbing make a perfect match. Cross-training adds variety to your schedule and will prevent your workouts from becoming tiresome. Cross-training simply means mixing up your workouts by incorporating multiple types of exercise. The benefits are many, and the downsides are few. Many practitioners of both climbing and yoga can attest to the fact that these two forms of activity are mutually beneficial.
1. Cross-Training Helps Flexibility
Why is flexibility so important for climbers? An increased range of motion is a key aspect of climbing. Being able to match your feet to a handhold or bring your hips closer to the wall can provide you with a multitude of additional options on the wall. The more you can count on your legs and feet to support your weight, the easier it will be for you to stay on the wall.
2. Cross-Training Helps Injury Prevention/Management
Injury in rock climbing usually comes from repetitive stress or a sudden increase in pressure at a joint. Some of the most-feared injuries in climbing are finger and wrist injuries – and they take a long time to heal. If you’re climbing all day, every day, you’re not going to be giving your muscles the time they need to recover and grow. Without rest, your training can be severely handicapped. Yoga can be used to intervene and alleviate the effects of stress your body encounters on the wall.
If you do get injured, continuing to use the muscle in the same way it was injured can prolong the healing process. Stepping away from the wall and into the yoga studio will provide a refreshing workout for your body. Going to a yoga class is a great way to stay active, increase your flexibility, and move your muscles just enough to boost recovery.
3. Cross-Training Helps Body Awareness
Yoga is widely known for its focus on body awareness and breath control. It translates to knowing how to use your body on the wall. For example, being able to determine how to position your body during a transition can prevent you from falling away from the wall. When you need to precisely estimate the distance for a big move, body awareness can increase your accuracy and ease.
In addition to body awareness on the wall, yoga will make you more mindful of how you feel in between attempts. Sensations of pain or tension will become more noticeable to you, giving you a chance to step back before injury occurs.
4. Cross-Training Helps Mental Health
Rock climbing can have a positive effect on your mental health, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience burnout. Sending (climbing a route without falling), isn’t the only thing that matters when climbing, but sometimes it can feel that way. It can be easy to get caught up in “chasing the grades” or completing a particular route before it gets taken down.
You don’t want the hobby that you have built to become something you dread. Choosing to practice other forms of exercise can be immensely refreshing in this way. Yoga, in particular, can reduce the stress and negative thoughts you may have started to associate with climbing. This can simply be another form of self-care and a way to differentiate your climbing.
5. Cross-Training Helps Strength
While climbing requires a range of body positions and muscle engagement, it does not target each muscle group equally. Yoga can fill in the gaps. Many yoga moves build core strength, which is important for keeping your body close to the wall (especially when climbing overhangs). Yoga will also increase your ability to hold challenging positions and move thoughtfully.
Adjusting Your Schedule to Cross-Train
Depending on your current schedule and the amount of time you have, try to cross-train once or twice a week. You can add additional yoga sessions to your schedule or exchange one of your climbing sessions for a day in the yoga studio. If you do yoga right before you climb, you will notice an increase in flexibility when climbing. If you add it on after a climbing session, you will notice a decrease in soreness and increased recovery the next day.