Neds flexy madness


Force it...

I have heard it said that strong muscles = inflexible muscles… Not so!

A flexible body allows you to get your body in unfeasible positions and really milk the holds you are given. A flexible lower body is the most important as it allows you to:

1) Put your feet exactly where needed (especially when you have a core like Bruce)

2) Put maximum weight through them when they are there.

More weight on feet = less weight on fingers = easier to climb…. simple.

Using your feet may not be cool, but they are there, so you may as well not let them go to waste.

It isn’t hard to increase your flexibility – in fact I think it is the easiest way to improve your overall climbing ability. I hear too many people winging that they can’t get there feet on that hold etc. My heart bleeds. Sort it out, or at least don’t whinge when I am about.

Upper body – Doesn’t really need to be too flexible for climbing. Use stretching for recovery after hard sessions, to prevent you from becoming tight like a tiger. It is best to warm up for climbing using dynamic stretches as stretching from cold is a recipe for disaster and it as been suggested that after stretching, muscles show reduced power which you don’t want, unless you have more lock than Malc Smith and never need to throw to anything.

Lower body – The more flexible the better – within reason. Over a certain point flexible joints = loose joints = injuries and you will become limp and devoid of strength, but realistically it takes a whole lot of aggressive stretching to loosen your joints and cause damage and this is unlikely to happen (but don’t quote me on that).


Only stretch when warm, either after climbing, a short jog or a warm bath/shower. Work out which muscles are the least flexible and work on these first followed by the other muscles. It only takes about ½ hour to stretch all the main muscles.



The general format I use for stretching is as follows: -


Start on the muscle group which needs the most work.
Go gently into the stretch and hold for 20-30 seconds keeping gentle pressure on all the time – you will have to increase it throughout the stretch. Ease off slowly and rest for 10 seconds or so then repeat. Do this a total of 3 times. Repeat this for each muscle group. If you are still keen you can then go back over the less flexible muscles and work on them a bit more.

Another way of stretching particularly tight muscles is to hold the stretch position for an extended period of time (5 mins or so). This is best done while watching tv or listening to music to prevent boredom.

Do this as often as you want. Get into a pattern and stick to it. The more the better as you will see progress faster and be more psyched to continue. You can ease off when you get to the level you want to be at, just doing the odd session to maintain that level.


Helpful for


Drop knees, high stepping, heel hooking, toe hooking


High steps, rock overs, “frog” moves


Toe hooks, smearing, heel hooks, edging, clawing with feet etc.

Lower back

Press moves, drop knees, high stepping

I used to stretch every day, but now my flexibility has reached a point at which I don’t think it holds be back, so it has been put on the back burner for now and 1 or 2 sessions a week are enough to maintain my current level.

Some examples stretches.
Remember to hold the stretch with constant pressure – don’t bounce.