The shoulders are the most movable and unstable joints, and next to the fingers they are the most at-risk body parts for rock climbers. In particular, those of us with a preference for overhanging walls and V-hard boulder problems must recognize the potential for developing a shoulder injury that could plague us for years or even require surgical intervention. Every time we crank up a steep wall with an elbow pulled backward beyond the plane of our body, we are in jeopardy of subluxation. Furthermore, excessive hanging with straight arms produces an accumulated strain on the shoulders that can eventually lead to shoulder instability. The bottom line: Climbing—especially hard bouldering—is a minefield for the shoulders.
Knowing these dangers, a wise climber will be proactive in minimizing exposure to the most dangerous positions and engage in disciplined training of the stabilizing muscles that surround the shoulder. Use of various push-muscle exercises such as push-ups, shoulder press, and dips, are a good start for protecting the shoulder joint. However, there are several smaller muscles of the rotator cuff that must also be trained via targeted exercise. Detailed below is an exercise for strengthening internal rotation–next month I’ll cover the exercise for external rotation.
Copyright 2009 Eric J. Hörst. All rights reserved.