Rock climbing is a great exercise for your arms and back, but does it also negatively affect your spine?

Climbing uses a constant rowing motion or a downward pulling motion. These types of movements use your back muscles like latissimus, rhomboids, middle and lower trapezius. These muscles often play a role in good posture, keeping your shoulders back and your spine straight. So how could rock climbing worsen your posture?


It is a simple posture of rest on the wall. Climbers do this naturally to be more efficient at using muscle. Do you tend to rest; how often and for how long on each climb? Most climbers will tell you to take the brakes on the wall and let everything “hang” and relax your back muscles and even your arms. This is done to use your body in the most efficient way and to expend as little energy as possible. This is where the problem lies because the normal resting posture puts your spine in a position called kyphosis. There is a natural kyphosis in the middle of the back, but we put it to the extreme when we go up. Our normal population and especially the younger generations are already increasing this kyphosis with the use of electronics and regular sitting/standing posture. So, for us climbers, we must prevent our physical activities from increasing this kyphosis even more!

Why is this bad? Limitation of the chest spine, or mid-back, can often lead to back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain. When one segment of the body is limited, it affects everything else above and below that segment.

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