Why does time stop when we lead fall?

Yes, during big lead falls and similar situations it feels like either time stops or the brain is in the overdrive. None is actually true. Unfortunately, we (most of us at least) can’t control time and even can’t speed up brain processes. But we remember past events differently; it makes sense to remember critical life threatening events well, it can save you in future and hence improve chances to survive. So our brain knows when to save event memories with a lot of details (running from a tiger) and when with very few (fishing with a line).

The regions described as amygdala is some structures with distinct connectional and functional characteristics of the brain in complex vertebrates, including humans. It is believed that amygdala gives emotions to the memories, colours memories, so we end up with happy and sad recollections.

We feel that “time stopped” just because our memory “tape” has tons of emotionally coloured bits of information per unit of time.

How many sweat glands on the hand?

The palm has around 370 sweat glands per cm2 or around 3000 per in2. When we climb and all of them sprinkle at once then it creates the problem. Why do they do it to us? In our case we deal with so called emotional sweating that is stimulated by stress, anxiety, fear, and pain. They say that both eccrine and apocrine glands produce sweat as a reaction to adrenaline. Conclusions: a) by controlling our emotions we can control palm sweating and b) palm sweating should warn us about increased level of adrenalin in the system.

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.