Rock climbing recovery and your cup

July 15, 2020

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Rock climbing recovery and your cup
Health & Fitness

How’s the first month of post-lockdown climbing going? 

Is it time to talk about Rock Climbing Recovery?

If it is, keep reading. 

For a lot of my early rock climbing career, I thought recovery was solely based on the balance of how much I was climbing and how much I was resting and recovering. Although this is a good thing to keep in mind to prevent injuries related to overtraining, it’s not the be-all and end-all of rock climbing recovery. 

How is it possible that some people who have intense weeks and months of climbing can feel great the entire time while others can climb a few times a week and feel destroyed for days or weeks afterwards?

There is more going on 

I always kind of knew this and I think a lot of us do, but I didn’t know how to think about everything going on in my day-to-day life could be affecting how I was rock climbing, and how well I could recover afterwards.

One of the most useful things that physiotherapy has taught me is that recovering from fatigue, pain or injury can be a made a lot easier if you use The Cup Analogy.

What is the Cup Analogy?


Venn Diagram for Rock Climbing Recovery


You have a cup. I have a cup. Everyone has a cup. 

Our cups are of different sizes and are made of all the good things in our lives. 

  • Good amount and quality of sleep
  • Optimal nutrition
  • Supportive family, social, and work environments
  • Financial security
  • Going bouldering with your friends
  • Dogs

Our cups contain all our daily stressors and loads. 

  • Poor sleep or diet
  • Climbing load and/or current injuries
  • COVID19 and everything that may have resulted from it
  • Job insecurity, poor work environment, loss of routine
  • Travel
  • Relationship stress, lack of human or canine interaction

If the contents of our cups get close to overflowing we can experience fatigue. If they overflow we can experience pain or injury.

So how do we stop our cups from overflowing?

We can either calm things down (Remove the stressors and loads in the cup) or build things up (build a bigger cup).

Calming things down can look like this:

  • Acknowledging, accepting and actively addressing the things that are causing you stress (if you can)
  • Drinking less alcohol or eating less junk food
  • Having an easier climbing session if your day or week has been particularly stressful
  • Reducing the length of your climbing session or the number of sessions per week  


Diagram of Rock Climbing Recovery Cup


Building things up can look like this:

  • Getting more good-quality sleep
  • Eating better quality food and hydrating regularly
  • Organising to climb with people you like
  • Spending more time in nature (climb outside if you can)
  • Practising mindfulness and making personal time

Now what?

If you’re feeling a bit more flat or exhausted than usual or wondering why you’re not improving quickly as you used to, try using the Cup Analogy to make your own list.

  1. Write down anything that you think might be causing you stress
  2. Write down anything that you think you do well, that you like doing, or that has worked in the past to make you feel better 
  3. Pick out one or two things you can change 
  4. Adapt and act
  5. Do it again

Book a time with our specialised team in the “CLINIC” page.

For more information on recovery strategies and the original Cup Analogy, click here

That’s all for now.

Stay safe and enjoy! <3 The Nomad Team

Written By: Nomad Specialist Coach - Mattias Braach-Maksvytis

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