Self-massage for rock climbers can be used as a general prevention strategy to keep your muscles relaxed and enhance blood circulation. However, self-massage can never compensate for a rest day, proper nutrition, and proper training planning.\n\n\n\nIn this article, I\u2019ll explain the benefits of self-massage and how, where on the body, and when to apply it.\n\n\n\n1. Why Should You do Self Massage as a Rock Climber?\n\n\n\nWhen we look closer at self-massage, this is what actually happens: you put repeated pressure onto soft tissue, be it muscle, connective tissue, and\/or tendon, or onto all at the same time, which triggers free nerve endings and opens up blood vessels. As a result, you might experience the following:\n\n\n\nPain reductionIncreased blood flowTension reductionIncreased mobilityBetter coordination\n\n\n\nIf you\u2019re wondering how \u201ca bit of pressure\u201d on your muscles can have this wide variety of effects, let me explain.\n\n\n\nWhat follows is a very simplified, specific part of pain education. When it comes to pain reduction from self-massage something like the following happens. Pain arises in the brain as a response to a danger signal sent by a muscle, a tendon, or a part of your connective tissue. This danger signal can present itself to the brain by way of the accumulation of waste products at a certain location due to reduced blood flow, hypertension, or movement problems.\n\n\n\nWhen you massage a muscle and put pressure on it, your brain \u201cfeels\u201d this which creates competition for the original pain sensation. As the origin of the new sensation is different it gets preference over your pain signal.\n\n\n\nAnd what happens then? You feel less pain.\n\n\n\nStill, there are 2 other possible mechanisms that can lead to a reduction in pain after self-massage.\n\n\n\nOne, because you\u2019ve increased the blood circulation which in turn reduces tension, and cleans out waste products, and two because you\u2019re finally moving the muscle.\n\n\n\nFor increased mobility and better coordination, it\u2019s no different. You feed the brain with information about the issue you\u2019re massaging. This information can then be used by your brain to improve your coordination and to better manage the division of tension in your muscles which can increase mobility.\n\n\n\nSo the bottom line is, yes you\u2019re massaging your muscles but you\u2019re doing something to your brain.\n\n\n\nAnd one more thing before we move on. Did you notice how often I used the words \u2018might\u2019, \u2018can\u2019, and \u2018may\u2019? That is because most of it hasn\u2019t been scientifically proven. Definitely when it comes to the improvements in coordination and increase in mobility. Still, this doesn\u2019t mean you can\u2019t experience any of these benefits. I do so myself on a regular basis, and so do my patients.\n\n\n\n2. Where to do Self Massage for Climbers?\n\n\n\nFor rock climbers, the main areas to do self-massage are the muscles of the body which are stressed most during rock climbing. Among these are the following:\n\n\n\nBack muscles\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/youtu.be\/rf4eHtFf4wo\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nShoulder muscles\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/youtu.be\/NNZ5jBJF2BE\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nTrapezius Muscle\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nChest muscles\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/youtu.be\/ZUxAGqfZyxU\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nLower arm muscles\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nMuscles and connective tissue of the feet\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFor optimal results, it\u2019s best to massage muscles or parts of muscles that feel hard and\/or tender when you touch them with your hands and fingers or when you pass over them with your massage tool. If you just go by your inner feeling, you might perceive something as tense where it\u2019s not and vice versa.\n\n\n\n3. How to do Self Massage\n\n\n\nThere is no predefined way of doing self-massage. From my perspective though, you have 2 options:\n\n\n\nPut a timer and massage each body part for a similar timeKeep massaging until your tender spots are gone\n\n\n\nThe first technique is faster and can be useful when you don't have any active complaints. The second technique on the other hand takes more time and hurts more. Because to eliminate tenders spots you need to massage deeply with a smaller tool so you can generate more pressure.\n\n\n\n3.1 Self-Massaging Posture\n\n\n\nYou can do self-massage:\n\n\n\nSittingLyingStanding (against a wall)\n\n\n\nIt depends on two factors which posture is best:\n\n\n\nThe muscle you massageThe amount of pressure you want to put on your muscles\n\n\n\nI recommend you try different positions and see what works best for you.\n\n\n\n4. What Can You Use to do Self Massage?\n\n\n\nYou can use several tools to do self-massage. Here\u2019s a list of which some you\u2019ll definitely possess:\n\n\n\nFoam roll: good for larger muscles and muscle groups like the chest, back, and legsTennis ball\/lacrosse ball\/foam ball: good for smaller muscles and to increase pressure on tense muscles and trigger points wherever they are in the bodyMassage stick: good for anywhere you can reach comfortably given you have to hold the stick with both your handsElbow: using your elbow can be a great tool to penetrate deep into tissues. This can be painful so thread carefully and since you\u2019re the patient and therapist at the same time make sure you\u2019re relaxed while massaging yourself.Your thumb: about as point as the elbow but softer and with more sensation. And because the thumb is at the end of your hand you can press on a larger part of the body than with your elbowThe base of your thumb: is a bit less pointy than your thumb or elbow but therefore also less painful.Metal self-massage \u201csprings\u201d: specially made for finger massage, I love them and think they\u2019re great for increasing blood flow and reducing tenderness of the finger joints.\n\n\n\nIt depends on the area you\u2019re massaging and on your personal preference, which tool is best to use. If you find it hard to relax while you use your own hands or elbow to massage (which requires tension) it\u2019s better to use a tool. This way you can focus on your breathing and relaxation to let the foam roll or ball sink into your tissues.\n\n\n\n4. When Should You Do Self Massage?\n\n\n\nSelf-massage can be done at any moment, also before you go climbing. Because, contrary to static stretching, self-massage before engaging in sports doesn\u2019t reduce your sports performance.\n\n\n\nIf you want to warm up and loosen your body then I think it\u2019s a good idea to do it before climbing. Yet, if you do self-massage to treat tension\/pain it\u2019s better to do it in the afternoon or evening. In the morning you\u2019ll be stiffer and more sensitive which might influence the efficacy of your self-massage.