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Flexibility assessment and the role of flexibility as a determinant of performance in rock climbing

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Many climbers believe flexibility to be a key performance component, but this remains unsubstantiated under experimental conditions. The need for sport-specific measures of flexibility has been highlighted. The purpose of our research was to assess the validity and reliability of four novel tests of climbing flexibility. The four tests, completed on a purposebuilt climbaflex board, were the adapted Grant foot raise, climbing-specific foot raise, lateral foot reach and the foot-loading flexibility test. In addition, for comparative purposes, the participants completed two existing measures, the sit-and-reach test and Grant foot raise. With the exception of the climbing-specific foot raise all measures had good reliability (ICC = 0.90 – 0.97). The existing flexibility measures had a poor correlation with climbing ability. The lateral foot reach and the adapted Grant foot raise were correlated with climbing ability (r = 0.30; r = 0.34) and used together represent good field measures of flexibility. The foot-loading flexibility test was had the strongest correlation with climbing ability (r = 0.65) and could differentiate between climbing abilities (F3,42 = 8.38, p < 0.001) in a laboratory setting. Our findings indicate that flexibility is a key performance component for the sport when a climbing-specific test is used.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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