5 Things Your Body May Experience When You Get Back Climbing And How To Fix It

5 Things Your Body May Experience When You Get Back Climbing And How To Fix It

By Olivia Ratcliffe

@olivialeeratcliffe - Instagram

The walls are currently back open, current guidelines are in place and climbers can finally get back to pulling on plastic. It’s been a while since we have been able to climb inside and you may or may not have kept up training at home. If you have been to a climbing wall again, you may have experienced some of the following after your session, depending on how much training you have kept up over lockdown. If you can relate to the following symptoms of returning to climbing, here is how you can help fix them!
Attached below is also a video of the methods discussed. 


  • Forearm tightness (particularly in the wrist flexors)
  • Aching fingers
  • Aching shoulders
  • Fatigue
  • Achy elbows


  1. Forearm tightness

Those fingers just aren’t used to squeezing like they used to be, even if you’ve been hangboarding! You may not feel it when you climb but a day or two later, your forearms may feel tight and achy, especially when you bend your wrist back!


If you didn’t know, that’s because the muscles responsible for bending the fingers, and allowing you to hold on, start at the elbow, run down the forearm and finish in your fingers.  Just like a workout lifting weights and getting achy biceps or legs, the muscle fibres in the forearms have been torn due to climbing causing the achy tightness!


How to fix

  • Forearm massage
  • Wrist stretches
  • Finger stretches


*Massage helps to promote blood flow to the muscles, which carries nutrients to help rebuild the muscle fibres and take away the toxins within the muscle. Movement at joints, especially dynamic stretching helps to promote the release of synovial fluid within a joint. This helps to lubricate the joint and also contains nutrients to help with repairing the joint/muscles.


  1. Aching fingers

Aching fingers is one to be careful of. Remember, to take things steady when getting back climbing and progress slowly, especially if you did have a hangboard or trained during lockdown! In most cases, the muscles in your fingers, don’t know what has hit them and may feel stiff when bending and when making a fist.


How to fix


  • Forearm massage
  • Finger massage with ring
  • Bending and stretching the fingers – keep moving them
  • Ice/heat



If it feels more than a muscle achy/stiffness please seek a medical professional and remember the sooner you start treating finger niggles the better. For an online consultation, information is available at the bottom of the page.


  1. Sore Shoulders

No amount of pull ups and press ups can prepare your shoulders for overhangs and pulling down on holds from different angles/positions. Just like the forearms and fingers, your shoulders have probably had a wakeup call too! Especially if you couldn’t wait to jump on the overhanging climbs that look a lot of fun.


How to fix

  • Massage ball
  • Shoulder mobility exercises


  1. Fatigue

Feeling tired after a climbing session back is expected, hangboarding throughout lockdown can’t really prepare you for that. You will probably feel “powered out” more than anything. Maybe more so if you couldn’t resist the jumpy climbs of overhanging, burly climbs.  


How to fix

Well your body just needs time and energy to repair itself. Eat plenty of protein to help your body recover, which will also help reduce muscle soreness. It is recommended to eat around 1.8g per kg of your body weight. (For example, a 60kg person should aim for around 108g of protein). Eating carbohydrates is also recommended, as they are needed to help with protein synthesis and the repairing of your muscles and also needed for energy!


Active recovery will also help you to recovery quicker. This could be a walk, yoga, light jog, anything you enjoy and gets your body moving. 


The better you can recover, the better you can train!


  1. Aching Elbows

There’s a whole series coming with regards to elbow tendonitis. As mentioned previously the finger muscles start at the elbow, so they might become irritated. Tendonitis is an overuse injury and won’t necessarily occur due to one or two sessions, however take it into consideration. Your elbows haven’t had a lot of stress through them for a while, 3-4 sessions a week again, adds up to a lot of stress.


How to fix

Keeping on top of your elbow health from the start will really help you combat future elbow tendonitis flare ups! You can do this by;

  • Forearm massages (as shown above)
  • Forearm stretches (as shown above)
  • Warming up thoroughly and gradually
  • Gradually build up the intensity, volume and frequency. So how hard you climb, how long for and how many times a week.


Again, these will be dependent on how much, or in some cases little, people have trained/climbed over the last few months and also your current and pre-lockdown ability, and an individual’s strengths and weaknesses! These symptoms will be more prevalent in beginners due to the lack of muscle memory.




 If you have any questions, more information or an online consultation, please email [email protected]



Olivia Ratcliffe


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