Rock climbing is also a good option for children and young adults with physical disabilities, who are often limited in the types of recreational and athletic activities they can participate in.
Physical activity for children with disabilities helps increase or maintain function after surgery to increase range of motion, function and strength, says Lorene Janowski, Pediatric Occupational Therapist HSS, DPS, OTR/L, BCP, MS , C/NDT. “It is also extremely important for children as they transition into adulthood and as the weekly therapeutic regimen (OT, PT) decreases,” she adds. “It is vital to promote good habits for the future from an early age.”
Janowski shares more about how rock climbing can benefit kids of all abilities.
Reaching for a wide grip or stretching a leg for a better grip promotes flexibility throughout the body, Janowski says. “This is necessary as we move through the day, managing a variety of obstacles and reaching objects placed on high and low surfaces.”
Climbing a rock face is a full body workout. As the shoulder and back muscles contract to pull the body upward, the legs and glutes push the lower grips to propel a climber up a route. “Rock climbing also requires proximal strength, which involves the muscles closest to the midsection of the body,” Janowski explains.
Children with physical disabilities can especially benefit from the strengthening aspects of rock climbing. “For example, when a child develops strength in their hands while participating in climbing a rock face, an improvement in their ability to open jars or containers that they were previously unable to open may be seen. ‘open,” says Janowski.
Fine and gross motor skills
Whether it’s grabbing a big hold with an open hand or pinching your fingers in a tight grip to grab a tiny hold, rock climbing challenges both fine and motor skills. overall. (Fine motor skills use the small muscles in the hands and wrists, while gross motor skills use the larger ones.) For children with disabilities, these are important areas to work on, Janowski says.
Spatial awareness, or the ability to recognize where one’s body is in relation to its surroundings, is an important skill for children of all abilities. Rock wall climbing challenges climbers to constantly assess their position as they ascend the wall and realign themselves to better balance their weight or reach the next section.