No more Tarzan
Tree climbing is something that is being practiced less and less, even among children.
It’s too dangerous now. You might fall. You might break something.
This is all very true but it all adds to the value of the climb. The risk factor enhances, not reduces the experience.
You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. You can’t climb a tree without breaking a few bones.
If you are careful tree climbing can be relativity safe. However for every platoon that attempts to climb a tree, one soldier may fall.
If you are concerned you may fall and break something, tree climbing is not for you. If you believe the risk outweighs the reward tree climbing is not for you.
If you are looking for a complete movement practice that connects you with nature read on……
Tree Climbing is Primal
I recently wrote an article about the benefits of the Dead Hang, in which I mentioned we come from a family of Great Apes which swing from trees.
Modern tribesmen of today still scale trees is search of their prized fruits, prey and honey. In fact 8% of modern humans still have the same bendy feet as our tree-dwelling cousins, which make us better adapted to climbing.
Tree climbing is locked away somewhere in our DNA we just have to rediscover it.
Just as our monkey cousins feel at home when climbing trees, so too can we. This natural connection is deeply satisfying.
At the start of the climb you and the tree are separate. After you leave the ground you realize the tree is all that is supporting you from terrible physical consequences should you fall. There is kinship in this.
The connection that was lying dormant begins to unravel itself and you start feel comfortable, even safe in the tree.
Tree climbing utilizes the whole body
Tree climbing is a primal test of strength, balance, stamina, and co-ordination.
From the dead hang start, to the pulling and pushing movements required to climb and maneuver the tree, all muscles are used.
Tree climbing provokes some of the best full-body movements all in one setting.
The legs are used when pushing off and often when hooking onto branches. The arms, chest and back are used to pull and push as you scale to the next level. Then there is the core. All of these movements require stabilisation or contraction from the core.
Climbing extends beyond gross muscles movements. The balance required to prevent yourself from falling when moving and reaching for branches takes a lot of fine tuning on the muscles part.
The best part about tree climbing is it teaches us movement precision in a natural environment.
Every tree is unique – Choose your path
Climbing a tree is different every time. There are so many trees to climb that no two will provide quite the same set of movements.
Even on the same tree there are different paths you can take. This presents opportunities to challenge the muscles and tendons in different ways.
The load when pulling yourself between branches will always vary. The angle will be different, the distribution of weight across the muscle groups will never be the same.
This provides the body a maximal stimulus upon which to adapt. The body adapts best when is continuously led into unfamiliar territory, as is the way with tree climbing.
A puzzle for the brain
Not all trees are easy to climb. Every tree requires mental focus. If you are not focused when climbing you will fall.
Tree climbing forces the mind into a sort of zen state. Even after you become accustomed to climbing trees.
As you navigate the various branches and attempt to determine the best path to reach your destination your brain is actively puzzle solving.
It is not only problem solving in relation to the tree, but problem solving in relation to your body. How can I best manoeuvre the body to achieve my goal.
The mind and the body are actively working as one making climbing trees a cognitive and physical symbiosis.
When tree climbing I prefer to climb barefoot. I feel this not only enhances my grip but also gives my mind a more accurate blueprint as to where my foot is in relation to the tree. Plus it feels pretty good having the bark on your skin.
I usually avoid climbing in adverse weather conditions as the slipping factor is far more prevalent. Danger is good, certain failure is not!
I take into account the type of tree I am climbing. If the tree is rotting the branches are more likely to break. This is also true of certain species. So determining the species and condition of the tree is helpful.
Only climb to your own limits , even if you only make it to the first branch. You will improve the more you practice. Learn to be confident in your own abilities.
Happy climbing friends 🙂