An established outdoors & competition climber, Tiffany Soi is the creator of ClimbFlow, an original dynamic yoga + functional movement method for climbers. In this exclusive series of articles for The Arch Magazine, Tiffany will share a monthly routine & insights into the Climbflow approach to cross training. Follow Tiffany on Instagram @climbflow / @tiffany_soi or get in contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback, questions, and ClimbFlow requests.
A common misconception is to think that “core” just means your abdominal muscles. Whilst a sculpted six pack might be a desirable outcome, it doesn’t do much functionally if the rest of your important muscles are neglected. The core refers to the numerous muscles that make up the trunk of your body - those muscles at the front, the sides, the back, below (pelvic floor anyone? that’s guys and girls) and in between (The psoas muscles connect the lumbar spine to the top of your legs).
A strong and healthy core keeps the body stable, supports the spine, and allows you to generate force and power with control. And we all want more of that, especially when it comes to climbing. Many of us have years of bad postural habits, sports injuries and other impairments and misalignments that result in a weak core and a multitude of aches and pains. This can all be improved with a bit of effort. A strong core is a strong and functional body. Less than 10 minutes is all it takes for a solid workout (and isn’t based on isolated crunches and sit ups): This dynamic flow works the entire core, through solid foundations, twists and turns, and then some fun additional movements to challenge your stability. Always remember to keep breathing (you can catch the inhale/exhale cues), because your diaphragm, like any other muscle in the trunk of the body, is also fundamental to a strong core. So no holding your breath please!
Sequence #1 - Core
Try this out 3 times a week, post climbing session, or in between sessions-just make sure that you are warm before you begin. Here are some key notes below to keep in mind whenever you happen to move through any of these postures and sequences:
- Downward facing dog: Look at the thighs, relax the neck, press into the lengths of the fingers to support the wrists, push through the lengths of the arms to keep the shoulders strong and support the back. Draw up through the lower abdominals (gently pull the belly button towards the spine).
- Plank/front support: Shoulders above the wrists, the tail bone should be tucked under and glutes activates to switch on your core belt. Aim to draw the lower abdominals in. Don’t let the lower back sag. This is a foundation for the other movements too-never let the bag sag!
- Push ups: Elbows graze the sides of the body, and aim to maintain the line of the body from the shoulders to the hips: You wan’t to move in one piece. If you feel the lower back sagging, drop your knees to the ground for extra support and re set your form.
- Side plank: the aim is to lift the hips to make a long line from shoulder to foot. Use both feet if you need, or a flat foot for extra support,. When you get stronger you can stack the feet or float the leg, without letting the hips drop.
- Floor exercises: Keep the lower back pressed into the floor. This engages the core belt front to back. You shouldn’t be able to fit your fingers underneath. If you notice this, stop and reset yourself. You don't have to extend your heels towards the floor, if 45 degrees gets you working to begin with, stick with this til you get stronger.
- Star raises: Try not to let the shoulders touch the floor when you lower, draw up through the abdominals as you come up to your sit bones and twist, and don’t let your lower back arch as you try to maintain balance.
- Supermen: Keep the hips low and level with the shoulders but don’t let the back sag! Really reach out through the fingertips and the toes as you lift, this develops spinal stability. If you are finding this really challenging, only raise the hand/foot a few inches off the ground whilst still stretching out through the fingers/toes until you find your stability and strength improving.
- Mountain climbers: Keep the hips low, the tailbone tucked, don’t let the lower back arch, especially if you're getting tired!
I hope you got a little bit of a burn on moving in a different way. We would love to hear how you found it, so do reach out. Stay tuned for more from Climbflow in The Arch Climbing Wall movement series. - Tiffany