In climbing, shoulder injuries are far to common.  Additionally, because of the nature of climbing movement and the anatomy of the shoulder, shoulder injuries are something that affect climbers of all ability levels.  Because of these realities, climbers of all ability levels should regularly perform a regiment of shoulder exercises designed to strengthen the shoulder joint and ready it for the abuse climbing puts on it.

To help you affectively add some shoulder injury prevention work into your routine, here’s an article by Dr. Jared Vagy, The Climbing Doctor, that outlines a series of shoulder exercises done in a very specific way.

“The tendons in the shoulder slide through a very narrow passageway and attach to the shoulder bone. Impingement occurs when the space between the bones in this passageway is reduced. This can occur from repetitively moving the shoulder into a stressful or suboptimal position. When this occurs, the bones in the shoulder pinch down on the tendons and cause shoulder impingement. You should be aware of the dangerous movements that can lead to shoulder impingement. These movements include hanging on your arms during rest stances, climbing with a hunched posture and strenuous overhead reaching.” – Dr. Jared Vagy

Shoulder Exercises Described:

The shoulder exercises outlined in this article are basically a variation on the standard I’s, Y’s, and T’s drill.  While the basic movements are the same, Dr. Vagy recommends climbers perform these exercises using a Theraband wrapped around their midsection and in a bent over position.  His reason for recommending this position is that is that it mostly closely simulates the position of the body during overhanging climbing.

To help you do these exercises in this way, Dr. Vagy provides step-by-step instructions and photos feature professional climbers Sasha DiGiulian and Josh Levin.  This instruction covers everything from exactly how to wrap the Theraband to correct posture and movement patterns when performing the exercises.


Click through below for the full article and to see these exercises for yourself.  Then, and most importantly, make shoulder maintenance like these exercises a regular part of your climbing and training routine.  While these exercises may be boring and don’t feel like they are making you stronger, they can be the difference between staying healthy and being sideline for months with nagging shoulder injuries.

More Injury Prevention with Dr. Vagy:

If you like what you see here from Dr. Vagy, be sure to check out the Injury Prevention Guide he wrote for us.  It is full of detailed information and practical advice about how to prevent all kinds of climbing injuries.

Full Article: The Climbing Doctor Shoulder Exercises

climbing training programs

(photos courtesy of

Other Articles You Might Like:

TrainingBeta is a site dedicated to training for rock climbing. We provide resources and information about training for routes, bouldering, finger strength, mental training, nutrition for climbers, and everything in between. We offer climbing training programs, a blog, interviews on the TrainingBeta Podcast, personal training for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.

  Click here to subscribe