Why do climbers have bad posture? Climbers are known for being lean and strong, so what makes them prone to having such a hunched back? Although many contributing factors can lead to climbers having bad posture and a hunched back, the main reason is often an imbalance of muscle in different areas of their body.
In this article, we’ll be talking about why that matters. Who cares if you have more muscles in one place than another? Well, you should because it can really impact your posture and body movement as it gets worse. We’re here to help you prevent a climber’s hunch from forming.
What is a Climber’s Hunch?
Climber’s hunch, in the simplest of terms, is the overdevelopment of certain muscles and the underdevelopment of other muscles that can lead to a hunched-looking appearance. Climbers typically use their back muscles to pull, helping to keep their bodies on the wall and move up the wall, but what they don’t do much: push. This leads to an underdevelopment of the muscles in the chest area that are typically used to push.
The imbalance of the back and the chest muscles are what leads to climbers developing a hunchback appearance. Understanding what causes hunchback posture in climbers is only one step to preventing yourself from developing a hunchback. Knowing how to avoid a climber’s hunch is even more important.
Are Climbers Prone to Hunchback?
Although everyone nowadays is more prone to developing a hunchback than previous generations simply from sitting and looking at screens all day, climbers are exceptionally prone to developing a hunchback due to the imbalance in muscle groups. Climbers’ posture is not usually great, but this really isn’t what drives climbers to develop such a hunch.
The good news is that you can prevent yourself from going down the path of developing a hunchback by including some simple exercises in your routine. There are tons of hunchback exercises that can help you develop better muscles in your chest, which can do a lot to help prevent you from developing a hunch.
Why Do Climbers Have Hunched Back?
Although there are many reasons why a climber’s back posture might not be so great, it ultimately comes down to the imbalance of muscles in different body parts. While climbers work certain muscles a lot, they tend to neglect other muscles, both while climbing and when training for climbing.
It seems simple to say that you should only work out the muscles you need for a particular sport or activity so you build up more of those muscles; neglecting other muscle groups can lead to some interesting developments. Your body needs a balance of muscles on each side and in both the front and back in order to maintain a healthy posture.
If you only focus on the muscles on your back and neglect the muscles on your front, those front muscles won’t be able to open your shoulders and hold up your back muscles. When this happens, if left unresolved, it can start to lead to something called spine kyphosis or an exaggerated bend in the spine. Now don’t get us wrong, spines are meant to have some curvature to them, but too much curvature can start to impact your posture and the way you move.
How Climbers Can Avoid Hunchback: 3 Exercises
If you are experiencing lower, upper, or middle back pain from climbing, please see a specialist before trying any of these exercises. These are designed to help you prevent the imbalance of your back and chest muscles that can lead to a hunched appearance, not to help treat any existing injuries that you may have sustained from climbing or anything else. This is not medical advice but simply workout tips.
Can you prevent a hunchback from forming? How do you fix a climber’s hunch once it has started? There are tons of exercises out there that can help you both prevent a hunchback from forming as well as minimize a hunchback that has already started to form. The general idea behind all these exercises and moves is to work out the chest muscles to help prevent overdeveloped back muscles from pushing your shoulders forward.
Here are our favourite exercises to include in a workout to help prevent the development of a hunch:
1. Upward facing dog
Upward facing dog is a great way to help stretch out your chest muscles. It offers an excellent way to ease into and out of a workout by allowing the muscles in your chest to stretch and relax. This simple exercise requires no equipment to do, making it a perfect addition to any warm-up or cool-down routine you already use when climbing.
To do an upward dog, simply lie on your stomach with your head facing forward and your hands pressed into the ground directly under your shoulders. Press up gently so that your upper body is raised off the ground. Try to keep your shoulders pushed back and your shoulder blades down, as this will give your chest the best stretch.
2. Downward dog
Downward dog is one of the most common and popular yoga poses out there, and with good reason. The pose is great for stretching out your calves, lengthening your neck and spine, and gently strengthening your chest. Although it might look simple, if you really pay attention when you practice downward dog, some important nuances will help you work on your chest strength.
We all know the classic downward dog pose; feet shoulder-width apart, hands in a plank position, and hips raised up towards the sky, bending to allow your hands and feet to both press into the floor, but there is a lot more than meets the eye with this pose. Make sure you keep your shoulders pushed down your spine and not drifting up towards your ears as opposed to paying attention to keeping your legs straight.
The best way to feel downward dog in your chest and shoulders is by actually focusing on those muscles and using them. When people first do this pose, they typically think that keeping their legs straight is the goal, but it really doesn’t matter if your legs are straight or slightly bent. The real benefit comes from engaging your shoulders and not letting them float up to meet your ears.
Planks, again, are simple workouts, but when done right, they can work wonders on your chest and shoulders. To do a proper plank, start with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet slightly closer together while lying on your stomach. Gently push your hips and thighs up until you create a straight line going from your feet, up your back, and to your shoulders.
The best way to get a good chest workout from a plank is by doing the exercise properly. Make sure you keep your hips in that imaginary line and don’t let them drift up or down, as this can throw your body out of alignment and cheat the exercise. Like a downward dog, keep your shoulder blades away from your ears and pull them back towards your spine. This will give your chest the best workout.
There are so many modifications that can be made to a simple plank that there really is a way that anyone can do a plank. If your wrists are bugging you, try lowering down and using your forearms instead of your hands for balance. If the workout is too challenging, try starting on your knees for the first few times instead of your feet. It’s all about finding what’s best for your body while maintaining good form.
There are so many more exercises out there that will target the muscles in your chest, but these are some of the simplest and easiest to do, even if you have no equipment. If you train at a gym or have access to workout machines, you might want to ask your gym to see which machines can be used to help keep your chest muscles strong. We chose these workouts because they are accessible to all, but that doesn’t mean they are the only options out there.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Avoid Climbers Hunch
Making sure that you work out all of your muscles, not just the ones that you need for climbing, is essential to maintaining a healthy body. Your body is all about balance, and when one thing is out of balance, it can be easy for your body to start creating problems.
Since climbers are so prone to developing their back muscles and neglecting their chest muscles, it is essential that they counteract this tendency by using any number of chest strengthening and opening exercises, such as the ones we’ve suggested in this article, to keep their chest strong and avoid developing a climber’s hunch.