As athletes we are told that we must always listen to our bodies. Despite this sound advice, some of us choose to unwisely ignore pain, etc. Well, for people who have reached middle-age, the body begins to speak so loudly that it cannot be ignored. Muscles become less dense, recovery takes longer, and love for the exhilarating sport of rock climbing must be tempered with common sense adjustments that account for the changes that come with age. ‘Mature climbers’ – climbers between the ages 30-55 years – should know that these changes often mean modifying not ending participation in the sport we all love so dearly. Here are our tips for mature climbers who wish to participate in our Colorado adventure trips.
Adjustments to Make Due to Aging
- Check with your doctor: This is the single most important advice we can give to anyone undertaking rock climbing especially older participants. Have your lungs, joints, heart, etc., checked out before rock-climbing and heed the counsel of your doctor.
- Work on your flexibility: Greater flexibility helps decrease injuries significantly. Moreover, stretching increases blood flow to the muscles and increases athletic performance in people of all ages. As we age, the tissues around our joints tend to get thicker. This decreases the range of motion of our joints. Additionally, our cartilage tends to decrease as well in old age. To compensate maintain a regimen of light stretches to help minimize these effects of aging.
- Be smart about injuries: We started out this post saying how athletes should always listen to their bodies. This applies even more to older athletes. Don’t ignore pain. Also allow for extra time for recovery than would be needed for younger participants. Also, see a physician if you develop chronic pain.
- Adjust your objectives: So you may no longer be able to speedily power through climbs/boulders. Use your time more wisely to develop your overall technique.
- Join age specific groups: Although rock climbing has traditionally been dominated by younger people, there are groups forming all over the country that cater to older climbers.
Finally, there are many climbers who remain active into their 50s such as Stevie Haston (GB) and Fransisco Marin (ESP) who both climb in the 5.14 / 8b+ or harder range. This fact indicates that climbing is a lifelong sport unlike football, boxing, etc. Climbing into middle age and beyond simply takes common sense and a modification of your goals and training routine. You should also, as we said earlier, consult and follow the advice of your doctor before you begin rock climbing. If you are interested in rock climbing near Denver age is not necessarily a deterrent.