The health benefits of bouldering

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Health benefits of bouldering

The climbing or bouldering wall at Kelsey Kerridge is one of the most popular facilities in the city. It is one of the few places in East Anglia where both beginners can learn to climb and experienced mountain goats can get a good practice session in.

What is bouldering?

Bouldering is rock climbing stripped back. There are no ropes or harnesses, just a wall with a safety mat below. The challenge is to climb short but tricky bouldering “problems” (a route, or sequence of moves) using balance, technique, strength, and your brain. You don’t need experience or lots of expensive kit to have a go, simply a pair of climbing shoes and a bag of chalk.

The climbs are high enough to be exciting, but not so high that they’re hugely intimidating. Using safety mats means that the risks of falling off can be managed, and leaving the ropes behind means that you are free to concentrate on the climbing, not the equipment.

But what is it about bouldering that makes it such a popular activity?

One of the benefits of bouldering is the fact it adds a whole new dimension to your fitness regime. There is a great balance between going through a skilled and exhausting muscular workout accompanied by some very physical stretches interspersed with periods of rest and problem solving.

Then there is the all-over workout you get when heaving yourself up a bouldering route. Contrary to common perceptions, climbing and bouldering is not all about upper body strength – your leg muscles are key to using up from a hold, while core strength is vital to reaching and twisting for the next reach.

Bouldering wall

The benefits of bouldering

When it comes to endurance, bouldering can push your body to the max. Spending time searching for a way around a particular route puts intense pressure on your muscles and cardio-vascular system.

Climbing and bouldering develops a lean, muscular body. While the fitness benefits of bouldering to the arms, back and shoulders is clear, a skilled climber will also use their legs to push themselves up, rather than rely on their arms to haul. In bouldering, a climber will often use dynamic moves to reach the next ‘hold’, which can call for even greater muscular exertion.

Among the many benefits of bouldering is that it engages the brain. Tackling a climb often presents complex problems that require great technical know-how and problem-solving abilities.

It’s also a very social activity. It might not be a team sport but it is the perfect activity to do with friends or colleagues. One of the benefits of bouldering with friends is that you can help each other work out particular problems. You will also find yourselves pushing each other to try and master more challenging walls

Climbing with friends is also a brilliant way to accelerate what you know and develop your skills. By watching other people’s’ body positions and the way they approach a problem can teach you a lot about how you should hold yourself and the techniques you can use.

Bouldering is also killer for stress relief. The mental and physical workout definitely helps  kick away any lingering work thoughts or worries that can eat away and sap your energy.

Is it dangerous?

Safety equipment, including padded crash mats reduces injuries. The most common are from overuse of the fingers, wrists, arms and shoulders, plus bruises if you fall from near the top of a climbing wall.

One more of the many benefits of bouldering is the fact you don’t need that much gear. Bouldering walls are low to the ground, so you don’t need a harness or climbing ropes. Wear a t-shirt plus shorts/leggings. Then you just need a pair of climbing shoes and a chalk bag. That’s it!