Injuries and Medical Advice

How to Keep Your Shoulders Happy

Don’t Swing Arms

Windmills are for pumping water, not for warming up your shoulders. Circumnavigating the perimeter of the shoulder socket by swinging your arm in a circle is akin to a peacock fluffing its feathers—display purposes only, and a risky method at that. Swinging both arms in opposite directions is a party trick destined for anatomical failure.

A progressive warm-up is a great idea, and stop climbing while your shoulder still has a bit of juice. Most dislocations happen toward the end of a session when the shoulder is tired and stability is shaky.

Strong is Stable

If you have had one dislocation and would rather avoid a second, spend time making your shoulders way stronger than you need them for climbing. That will be just enough!

Although strength contributes to shoulder stability, the latter is more about how those muscles coordinate movement. Simple exercises, like throwing a ball against a wall, are a good place to start reconditioning your shoulder control.

Feature image by Boone Speed


This article appeared in Rock and Ice 254


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