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The 10 Best Stretches for Rock Climbing

Rock climbing can be a daunting activity, and your muscles will be challenged. To prevent any soreness or injury while climbing, it’s important to have a strong stretching routine. That’s why, today, we’ll cover some of the best stretches for rock climbing that you can do today.

Incorporating these stretches into your warmup will have you scaling walls with ease and feeling like a seasoned climber in no time.

What Muscles Are Used in Rock Climbing

Rock climbing may not necessarily require fast muscle activation like other sports (think tennis, basketball, and even Muay Thai). However, the muscles used in rock climbing are just as extensive.

  1. Calves – As you go from rock to rock, you push off from your calves to move upward, extending the ankles with each step up.
  2. Quadriceps – If you need a big, powerful step, the quads (located in the front of the thigh), will engage and help extend the leg to help you climb up.
  3. Forearms – Grip strength is crucial to rock climbing effectively. Holding onto any rock surface requires muscular durability in the forearm extensors and flexors.
  4. Plantar – These muscles on the soles of the foot assist with stability and balance. Uneven rock formations need the plantar muscles to stay strong and mobile.
  5. Glutes – The glutes anchor your lower body and help control torque in your hips so you can stay firm and secure during your climb.

Common Rock Climbing Injuries

Rock climbing can certainly be punishing on the body, but without the fast twitch nature of other sports and activities, common rock-climbing injuries are often different from other injuries.

  • Elbow Strain – When pulling yourself up during a climb, the biceps, triceps, and forearms can get over-worked and cause the elbow to become inflamed
  • Wrist Sprain – Although we hope you never fall when rock climbing, an outstretched hand to break your fall can occur when rock climbing, consequently spraining your wrist. Also, any distraction force when climbing upward can potentially injure the wrist.
  • Shoulder Tendonitis – To climb effectively, you need flexibility through all major joints. If you don’t have an adequate range of motion in your shoulder, reaching, pulling, and pushing can cause inflammation in the shoulder joint.
  • Sprained Ankle – Sometimes you misjudge a foot placement when climbing, and it causes your ankle to invert and sprains the lateral ankle compartment.
  • Herniated Disc – Your spine takes a large load when climbing, and overexertion or sudden movements without proper strength can impact your disc health.

How to Prevent Rock Climbing Injuries

The key to preventing rock climbing injuries comes with preparation and recovery. Before tackling any challenging climbs, proper warm-up exercises and stretching can help condition your muscles and joints for the demands of climbing.

Additionally, after a rigorous climbing session, taking time for adequate rest, stretching, and foam rolling can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries and promote overall muscle health.

The Best Rock Climbing Stretches

Now, let's get to the good part. Here are the best stretches for rock climbers that you can do today. We'll be targeting specific muscle groups that are used more commonly than others in rock climbing, such as your forearms, hips, glutes, and hamstrings. 

Forearm Stretches

Forearms are used extensively in rock climbing for gripping and pulling. You’re going to need to make sure your forearms are well-stretched and loose before you start scaling the wall. Here are some forearm stretches to do to get you warmed up.

10. Forearm Stretch

The forearms can get tight because of the amount of time spent gripping and holding rock formations when climbing. Maintaining flexibility in the forearms will also aid in your wrist and elbow health.

How to Do

  1. Standing or sitting, raise your right hand in front of you and flex your wrist so your fingers are pointing up
  2. Using your left hand, pull your right hand back to create tension in the forearm flexors. 
  3. Breathe, hold, and repeat 5x, and perform on both sides.

9. Tabletop Pose Wrist Stretch

The tabletop pose can help target the forearm extensors (palm side) and increase your wrist mobility to assist with those hard-to-reach hand placements.

How to Do

  1. Start on all fours with your shoulders aligned on top of your wrists
  2. Then, start to lean forward while keeping your spine straight. Your shoulders should now be past your wrists
  3. Next, once you feel a nice stretch in the forearm extensors, return back to starting position and repeat 5-10x

8. Gorilla Pose Wrist Extension Stretch

In order to stretch the full wrist compartment, you’ll need to hit the forearm extensors also with the gorilla pose wrist extension stretch. Keeping the top sides of your forearms flexible is important for wrist and finger strength.

How to Do

  1. Start standing on your Yoga Strong Mat with feet shoulder width apart
  2. When you’re ready, begin to hinge at the hips and reach your fingertips towards your toes.
  3. Then, if you cannot reach your toes, begin to bend your knees so that you can lay both hands flat on the ground with your palms up, and fingernails on the ground.
  4. Once your hands are flat on the ground, scoot them under your feet so your feet are on top of your palms.
  5. Breathe into the position and allow your feet to pull your forearm extensors into the stretch
  6. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 2x

Hip Stretches

The second half of every rock climber’s motion involves pulling your lower body upwards. Therefore, you’ll need to stretch your hips to build your mobility.

7. Hip Flexors

The hip flexors almost always could use some more range of motion, no matter the activity or sport. The low lunge is effective because it targets the front hip flexor in extension, creating more capacity for big steps needed in rock climbing.

How to Do

  1. Start in a downward dog position
  2. Lean forward to your shoulders over your wrists and step your foot in between your hands, with your ankle directly underneath your knee to make sure the heel is firm to the ground. 
  3. Keep your back leg straight and strong and pull your chest in between the upper arms with both hands firm on the ground.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 2x on each side.

6. Wide Squat

The wide squat engages all your major leg muscles - quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and adductors. The unique positioning of your hips and feet also forces you to engage your core and gain more hip mobility which is crucial for the unpredictability of rock climbing.

How to Do

  1. Start standing with your feet wide, touching the edge of your mat.
  2. Now, externally rotate your feet so your toes are pointed outwards at a 45-degree angle.
  3. With this wide leg position, place your hands together at your chest, and begin to squat down slowly, until your hips are at a 90-degree base.
  4. Then, accelerate back up to starting position and repeat 10x

Lat Stretches

Lat stretches are key because your back muscles play a critical component in extending your arms and pulling your body upwards. Without strong lats, you’re limiting how far you can climb.

5. Hanging Lat Stretch

You’ll need a pull-up bar to perform the hanging lat stretch or a firm doorway. Utilizing your strong grip, this hanging lat stretch can help decompress the shoulders, lats, ribs, and spine to help your body endure the rigors of rock climbing.

How to Do

  1. Start by grabbing a pull-up bar with both hands and hang, feet off the floor and arms straight.
  2. While breathing, hold this hanging position with relaxed shoulders and hips.
  3. Hold for 20-30 seconds

4. Overhead Lat Stretch

Overhead lat stretches can be especially helpful for rock climbing, since you often find yourselves needing access to upper body mobility from an overhead position during a climb.

How to Do

  1. Raise your right arm overhead, completely straight. 
  2. After that, grab your right wrist with your left hand.
  3. Once you have a firm grasp, sway your hip to the right, as you pull your right wrist overhead and opposite to the left. You should feel a big stretch from your right arm down to your hip.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on left side.

Glute Stretches

Your hips aren’t the only area that boosts mobility. You’ll also need to stretch your glutes so that you can move at different angles.

3. Pigeon Pose

The pigeon pose is significant for rock climbing because it targets the external rotators in the hip. When rock climbing, you may have to step to different heights, ranges, positions, and difficulties, and this stretch helps to release tension in the hips and improve your ability to hit your spots. 
How to Do

  1. From the downward dog, bring your right leg forward towards your arms. 
  2. Starting off, swivel the foot so your foot is towards your left wrist and the knee is towards your right wrist - making the shin almost parallel to the top of your Yoga Strong Mat. 
  3. Then, drop your shin to the ground and drop your back knee as well. 
  4. To drop further into the pose, untuck your back toes to lay the back leg fully. Pull your chest forward and then begin to lay your forearms down to the ground if accessible. 
  5. Hold 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

2. Wall Glute Stretch

The wall glute stretch may be a better fit than the pigeon pose for those with sensitive knees or a limited range of motion. By reclining on your back, you are still able to effectively stretch the glutes without any potential compensation.

How to Do

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about 6-12 inches from a wall.
  2. Then, place your left foot flat on the wall.
  3. Now, bring your right ankle to rest on your left knee. Make sure your lower back is flat on the ground.
  4. Next, gently press your right knee towards the wall with your right hand.
  5. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and release.
  6. Repeat the stretch on the other side.

Hamstring Stretches

Rock climbing is a physically demanding activity and you don't want to tear your hamstrings in the process of scaling a rock wall. Here are some hamstring stretches to add to your arsenal before climbing. 

1. Standing Hamstring Stretch

Stabilizing the knee by mobilizing the hamstrings is an effective technique to keep your lower body functional for rock climbing. In particular, keeping the hamstrings loose will aid your overall knee and lower body health.

How to Do

  1. Start by standing on your Yoga Strong Mat with your left foot six inches in front of your right.
  2. Now, raise your left toes off the floor and flex them toward the sky. Your left heel should still be on the floor.
  3. Then, hinge at the hips while slightly bending your right knee. Your spine should be parallel to the ground while the left leg is completely straight
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat

 Dynamic vs. Static Stretching

While both dynamic and static stretches are beneficial for rock climbers, each has its own time and place for maximum effectiveness.

Dynamic stretching is recommended to be used as a warm-up prior to rock climbing. It can help to increase blood flow to the muscles and activate the nervous system while increasing the range of motion. Examples of dynamic stretches for rock climbing might include leg swings, walking lunges, or arm circles.


On the other hand, static stretching would be recommended as a cool-down activity to help the muscles recover after rock climbing. Downregulating the nervous system and flushing out lactic acid through static stretching will help you recover factory and prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. Examples of static stretches for cycling might include pigeon pose or forward fold.

Stretching Tips for Rock Climbers

Every individual body is different, meaning what you need to stretch differs from what someone else might need. For example, men generally have tighter hips, but stronger shoulders. Women generally have more hamstring flexibility. These differences may range across genders, ages, body types, and more. Given this, there are a few stretching tips that can be followed no matter who you are –

  • Listen to your body – If you feel pain, don’t ignore it. Pain can be a precursor to a more serious injury, so it’s best not to overlook the signal.
  • Foam Rolling – Self-myofascial release with a Yoga Strong Roller is always beneficial to keep your muscles pliable.
  • Don’t stretch past your limits – If your body is screaming at you not to move past a certain threshold during a specific stretch, don’t force it. Breathe and harness the tension without exceeding your capacity.

Yoga for Rock Climbers

Stretching and rock climbing go hand in hand. If you don’t stretch, you won’t climb as far as you’d like. And in some extreme cases like free climbing, not being flexible enough to vault your body upwards can result in life-threatening injuries.

Take some time and add some stretches to your warmup routine. Even fifteen minutes of yoga or simple stretches will take your rock climbing to another level (no pun intended).