Do you love rock climbing? Then you’re going to love bouldering! This interesting extreme sport involves scaling the side of large, tall boulders without the equipment that you’d typically use for rock climbing. This makes it more thrilling and rewarding, but it isn’t exactly for the faint of heart! As with any risky activity, it should be about safety first! Use these safety tips for boulder rock climbing and find out what you’ll need to bring so you can have fun and stay safe!
Do a Pre-Climb Warm-Up
Before you start any climb, it’s important to warm up first. Cold muscles will never stretch or bend the way you want them to, so get your blood flowing and stretch out a bit! Some light cardio, like walking, jogging, or biking will get your blood pumping and your energy levels boosted. From there, do some dynamic stretching, like windmills, head rolls, and walking lunges to work those muscles that may otherwise get neglected with static stretching.
Always Have a Spotter
Since bouldering is a shorter venture than traditional rock climbing, you can climb without harnesses or ropes! It’s a liberating climb, but you’ll always want to put safety first. Anytime you go bouldering, whether practicing or out in the great outdoors, make sure you have a spotter (preferably two) on the ground. Spotters position themselves on the ground below the climber with their arms up in anticipation of the climber falling. Although they are essentially there to catch you, spotters are there more to protect your head and shoulders in the event of a fall, ensuring that you don’t land on your head or back! Likewise, you’ll want to make sure to know how to properly fall, and always be mindful of where you may land if you fall while climbing.
Use Proper Padding
While having a spotter is a critical dynamic of bouldering, you’ll also want to use crash padding at the base of your bouldering path so that, in the event of a fall, you’ll have a cushioned surface to land on versus the hard, rocky terrain. Even if you sustain an injury, padding can reduce the damage!
Know Your Skill Limit
Bouldering requires a lot of strength and skill, and although it’ll be hard not to jump right in and attempt more challenging climbs, it’s important to build yourself up to more risky problems (the paths taken to complete the climb). This doesn’t mean you should avoid challenging yourself, but you know your body better than anyone, and if you know that your strength or range of motion can’t handle more difficult problems, then don’t attempt them until you’ve improved your skills!
Don’t Overdo It
Because bouldering requires a great deal of strength and properly functioning muscles, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t overdo it. Whether you’re training or are out climbing real boulders, it’s imperative to know when to call it quits. An injured or overworked muscle will only increase your chances of falling, or further injuring the problem area.
It’s also important to take frequent breaks while bouldering. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to rest for 10 to 15 minutes for every 30 minutes of activity. This will help to prevent fatigue and injury, will give your muscles a break, and can let you reflect on the problems you just completed and think about how you can improve!
Skill > Force
Although we’ve already stressed that strength is an important component to bouldering, skill can trump force. If you’re trying to complete a difficult problem, pushing yourself harder to complete a pass isn’t always the best course of action. Instead, take a break and think about how you can use more skillful tactics to complete the pass rather than over-exerting, and potentially injuring, yourself. Just remember: If you’re feeling any pain, stop your problem and cease bouldering. Nothing good will come from a weak or damaged muscle!
Build That Muscle!
Bouldering works a very targeted set of muscles, so to avoid building up certain areas of your body while neglecting others, use your off days from training and bouldering to work the muscles you don’t use on your climb. This is called antagonist muscle training, and you should focus on the shoulders, upper body, and wrists with workouts like shoulder presses, push-ups, and reverse wrist curls. Also, if you’re new to bouldering, you may want to work on building up your upper body strength, as it’s essential for proper climbing!
Other Items To Bring Bouldering
- Climbing chalk—helps to improve grip
- Climbing shoes—specially designed for good grip and flexibility
- Athletic tape—great for protecting fingers, or taping fingers together for more advanced climbers
- Bouldering brush—essential for removing chalk and rubber residue off rocks from previous climbers
What do you think? Are you ready to try bouldering? If you love climbing, you’ll enjoy the unique challenge this sport presents! Head to your local climbing gym, or look around to see if there are any bouldering clubs or societies in your area that you can contact for more information!
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Have any other tips or tricks for boulder rock climbing? Comment to share your suggestions with us, or just let us know if you’re excited to try out this neat sport! Be safe and have fun!