Climbing Recovery

Often when climbing we get pumped, which is our skeletal muscle becoming saturated with Lacatic acid and other ions that bring about fatigue and eventually failure. This is most likely to occur when we are climbing at our absolute limit, especially when redpointing difficult routes. Now assuming that you will more than likely to need several redpoint attempts to successfully complete a route at your limits. As such what is the best way to recover between redpoint attempts or between routes when either at the wall or at the crag?

Fortunately for us climbing is a growth area when it comes to scientific research, often standing on the shoulders of researchers in other more mainstream disiciplines. In the case of recovery HEYMAN, DE GEUS, MERTENS & MEEUSEN tested The Effects of Four Recovery Methods on Repeated Maximal Rock Climbing Performance, a study that was published in Medicine and science in sports and exercise 41(6) in 2009.

The four methods were passive recovery, active recovery, TENS machine and Cold Water Immersion of Arms (3 x 5 minute submersion in water at 15 degrees). The result showed that the only two effective methods for recovering between climbs seperated by 20 minutes of recovery were Active recover and Cold Water Immersion. Now given that finding a cold water bath to soak your arms in might not be that easy at the crag then the best option for climbing would be the active recovery, which also came up as the most effective way to reduce the accumulation of blood lactate during the rest period.

The active recovery used was a 20 minute cycle task at 30 watts, which to us in the real world is a really low effort. So to replicate this outdoors a simply walk about in between attempts for twenty minutes, keep the pace reasonable light, and the activity will help you recover. Similarly indoors you might be able to get on a bike or very lightly jog on the spot. Light jogging might also help if you are on small ledge on a hard multipitched climb a small.

Anyway, good luck with your redpoints and hopefully your recovery will improve along with your redpointing grades!

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