March 2017 Fitness and sport
is a climbing activity carried out on boulders that are 5-6m high and performed through a series of 8-10 movements. This discipline was originally a training method for Alpine climbers, but then it developed into a sport itself that is carried out on low rock faces that are already filled with spits.
This is one of the latest rock climbing trends and it requires a pair of suitable shoes, a bag of chalk attached around the waist so you can always have a good grip of the rock, and, if possible, a crash pad to protect yourself if you fall.
A bit of history
Some pioneers of bouldering include Oscar Eckenstein (1859-1921), the English rock climber who was extraordinarily athletic, and the Frenchman Pierre Allain, thanks to whom, in the 1930-40s, bouldering took on some characteristics of its own, linking it to Fontainebleau, the birthplace of bouldering. Being instrumental in the development of mountaineering too, Allain contributed to the creation of some of the most important instruments in modern climbing, from harnesses to carabiners.
Physical and technical preparation
Expert climbers require great upper and lower arm strength, good resistance skills, great inter segmental coordination, joint mobility, use of the hands and feet and excellent balance. For a beginner, it is good to know that the success of climbing mainly depends on the economy of the climb
, therefore it is necessary to learn to balance one’s body so that as little energy as possible is used in the arms and to make the most out of the footholds to lighten the load on the upper limbs. The situations that create the most physical and muscular work are when the climber only has 3 places to hold (2 for the feet and 1 for the hands – the triangle position). These situations are quite common but the right technique can help you save precious energy: the triangle position saves energy because the body does not undergo any rotational force and it is stable. The most developed technique involves a series of small and precise holds and dynamic and strong movements similar to those used for climbing, especially during the harder levels when the climber is holding on with just one finger, climbing parallel to the ground or when performing other very difficult techniques, such as the butterfly.
Itineraries are made to make the climber face a series of problematic situations which force him/her to think about what the best possible movements are. When training, it is very important to vary the types of problems that are faced (rock faces, cliffs, roofs, ledges, and so on). In fact, strength is perfectly linked with how well an individual performs a technique, his/her sensitivity and his/her experience.
Strength training works on two levels:
it strengthens the fingers
it strengthens big muscles (arms and back muscles, called thoracoappendicular muscles).
When climbing, the individual must always find the balance between increasing strength and increasing mass, which is why pure strength training exercises must be preferred. Increasing one’s strength is also important, indirectly, for resistance because the stronger a person is, the less effort he/she has to make to overcome parts of the climb, and therefore the less tired he/she will become. It is very important for those who have been training for a long time to vary training stimuli, using all available methods so as to avoid getting into fixed habits (for example, always and only climbing one wall or roof), which could lead on to becoming less efficient when doing this exercise.
Competitions are carried out on artificial boulders which have the same features as natural ones in terms of size and difficulty. According to the rules, the start and finish must involve using some compulsory spits: the start involves using some spits at the bottom of the boulder and the finish involves using certain spits at the top, whilst the zones are the areas between these two where competitors can gain more points. The most important competitions are the Boulder World Cup (which began in 1999), the World Climbing Championship (which began in 2000) and the European Climbing Championship (which began in 2002).