April 20, 2022 4 min read

To the average person, when asked about the most common injuries that may occur in the sport of rock climbing, images of breaks, bruises and other bodily traumas are likely to be top of mind. However, to the rock climbers themselves, the reality is closer to sprains, strains and other forms of tissue trauma or inflammation, and for good reasons. Let me explain.

 

The sport of rock climbing is quite unique in that it poses a dualistic challenge to the muscles, tendons and ligaments within the body of the climber. On one hand (pardon the pun), a climber relies on fast, forceful motions to get from one position to the next. On the other hand, there is a need for precision within those motions, so it is highly common for those same bodily structures to undergo long periods of time under tension while the path of the climber is dialed in. While there is a different type of demand on these dynamic structures in the above situations, it is the combination of these demands that sets the climber up for any one of many overuse injuries.

 

With that in mind, a climber’s commitment to both a proper warm up and a proper recovery routine becomes an essential tool in their goal of improving their performance while simultaneously reducing injury risk. For that reason, while there are thousands of products on the market catering to the needs of a rock climber, it is important to find the right tool that can not only provide a high level of effectiveness but works fast while thoroughly addressing the different goals of the climber’s pre- or post-workout routine. A good example of this is the Cryo-Thermo Massager.

The Pre-Workout Routine:

A good climbing pre-workout routine is focused primarily on two key goals. The first goal is to “warm-up” the body by increasing circulation to and flexibility/mobility of the muscles and tendons that will be used during the climb. The second goal is to “activate” the body by connecting the central nervous system (ex. brain) and the peripheral nervous system (ex. upper extremities) through what is called the proprioceptive system; a system which promotes body awareness and is vital for performing precise, coordinated movements. The ligaments are often heavily populated with “proprioceptors” that communicate the key information to accomplish this.

 

There are three key features of the Cryo-Thermo Massager, which help achieve these important goals quite effectively. They are:

 

  • The ability to generate heat from the massage head causes a vasodilation effect on the local blood vessels, which therefore enhances local blood flow and circulation to the area exposed to the higher temperature. This helps with tissue mobility and the ability for the muscles to lengthen.

 

  • The ability to repeatedly provide a mechanical force into that same area of the body (aka percussion) serves to safely “pummel” the local soft tissues, which increases their ability to move properly. This enhances joint range of motion and fascial mobility.

 

The ability to provide vibration-related input (created by the higher frequency motion of the massage head) through the sensory elements of the nervous system serves to connect the peripheral area of the body (arms, legs etc.) with the brain and spinal cord so that more accurate motion can be coordinated while climbing.Text

The Post-Workout Routine:

A good post-workout routine can overlap a bit with the goals of the pre-workout routine, but also has very specific goals related to having performed the activity and wanting to avoid post-workout injuries to settle in. When considering the main goals of a post-workout routine, I would suggest they are to a) relax both the tissues and the actual bodily systems associated with the repeated, forceful motions of climbing and b) reduce any abnormal pain signaling that may happen as a result of an injury that has repeatedly occurred. In the latter case, this may be something that is not always the case but is certainly common in high performance climbers who are frequently competing or training.

 

Again, we can use the same features of the Cryo-Thermo Massager to achieve these important post-workout goals; this is how.

 

  • A muscle that in a state of continuous contraction (whether held under tension or repeatedly contracting to accomplish motion) will often become very tight. And it is not just about the muscle tissues themselves becoming short, but the tone of the nervous system which is often heightened and “holding” the muscle there. So, in order to reverse these two simultaneous situations, the combination of heat (increased blood flow), percussion (gently “pummeling” of the soft tissues), and vibration (reducing tone in the nervous system) can be used to reduce the injury risks associated with this post-workout tightness and tone.

 

In addition, when a muscle is held in a shortened state, there are often compensations occurring elsewhere in response. Failure to restore normal length will cause these compensations to create potential new problems and train the body to move differently. So, again, this makes the post-workout goal above one of extreme importance.

 

  • Repeated overuse injuries to the same area, which is often seen with high performance athletes, creates changes to the nervous system when it comes to pain signaling. This phenomenon can make pain feel stronger and more persistent; is embeds it more deeply. By using the cold and heat sensations produced by the massage head along with the higher frequency vibration input, the climber can provide vital input to receptors located along the pain transmitting fibers in the body and help maintain or restore a more balanced state; this results in normal pain signaling and therefore less pain perception from areas that have been previously injured.

 

 

In summary, the physicality of a climber is one of great complexity. Add on the subtle elements of pre- and post-workout routines that are often not addressed, or simply misunderstood, and you have a significant need for innovative solutions that can provide benefit and reduce the risk of injury. The wisdom within the design of the Cryo-Thermo Massager accounts for this and is therefore a phenomenal tool to bring into the climber’s daily life.


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