Why does your head spin after hard climb?

Have you ever experienced dizziness and/or spinning head after doing some extremely hard climbing? Read on if you do not know why it happens.

For our muscles to act our brain first forms and then sends signals to move to the muscles through motoneurons. Motoneurons are located in the brain and the spine. Since nothing is free or, in other words, energy is required for everything, to form and send neural impulse our body uses energy from ATP molecule oxidation. Therefore during muscle action our brain wants to consume more oxygen from blood stream (it also needs more glucose from blood).

If you are holding your breath while doing super hard moves then brain does not get enough oxygen from blood. It causes a) lower brain activity that might feel like your body does not want to move/climb anymore and b) dizziness and sensation of spinning head. Usually there is no time to reflect on these sensations while pulling hard through the climb, but once you are done it comes to you in full.

So, not only our muscles need oxygen, but the brain too. On short boulder problems it is possible that insufficient amount of oxygen in brain will hurt your ability to climb SOONER than lack of oxygen in your muscles.

Good breathing is essential to any sport activity. Unfortunately we like holding breath while doing hard moves especially those involving tightening core muscles. It takes time and practice to avoid holding breath. But everyone can learn it.

Here few advises:

  • If your head spins when you jump down from hard boulder then most probably because you hold your breath. Try to climb this boulder again with a certain goal to breathe well this time.
  • Ask your coach (training partner) to keep an eye/ear on your breathing (for that you have to breathe loudly on purpose).
  • Do core workouts more often and remember to breathe well and rhythmically.
  • Find tricks that work for you and turn them into habits, such as, a) always make deep inhale before a hard move and exhale during the move, b) scream loud on hard moves, you need air to scream, so it forces you to breath.
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