Natural Upper Body Strength for You and your Children PART 1

I made it my goal this summer to climb up the rope on our tree just the way I did before I got pregnant with our 3rd child in the summer of 2013 (the baby turns 1 next week).

It was an easy feat at the time. Last fall, being a couple of months postpartum, I was unable to pull myself up even a little bit.  And that after I had promised my son that once the baby is a bit older, I would have more time for him and I would even be able to climb the rope again. He was disappointed in me.

Last winter I started putting mlarge_img_11601.jpgy weight on the rope just every once in a while. Just like in the picture here.

This is a good starting point for everybody: By keeping the feet planted on the ground, you make yourself lighter and the load applied to the hands, arms and shoulders is greatly reduced. Those tissues can now practice hanging with a lighter load and develop some strength.

Here my feet are further out in front of me (still planted on the ground) which makes the work for the hands, arms and shoulders a bit more intense.

When you do any kind of hanging, you'll notice that your hands hurt and turn red and even blistery. That is too be expected since the skin on our hands is not used to this kind of experience. With practice, the skin will get stronger, too.


It is not as effortlessly as I remember but I still have many summer weeks to practice.

Why do I do it? Why should you do it? Why should your kids do it?

  • It's pure fun to be able to swing, climb, hang. I only see smiles when I see people hang. Must be in our genes :)
  • We all know that being able to stand, walk, jump and run is a sign of adequate physical health. Being able to do this, means we have the appropriate weight to strength ratio in our feet, legs and hips. That means that our muscles have a certain strength in proportion to our weight. If we suddenly gained a lot of weight and were a lot more sedentary (e.g. sadly the case for many women during normal pregnancy and most significantly during a pregnancy on bed rest or any other sudden weight gain), we'd lose the strength to carry our own weight. Our gait would be drastically altered (e.g. pregnancy waddle) and we'd sustain injuries (pubic symphasis diastasis, S.I. joint instability).

    We need the same weight to strength ratio in our upper body and having it is a sign of health (optimal circulation, optimal bone re-generation, no excessive wear and tear on joints ect.) It starts with being able to be on hands and knees and ends with some kind of hanging, climbing and swinging from one branch (bar) to another.


  • The best time to start hanging, climbing and swinging is childhood. The body is still small and the muscles can start to adapt to the weight of a small body. My children don't climb as much in the winter. In the spring they notice that they are not able to hang as easily from the rope anymore. I explain to them that their bodies grew over the winter, that they got heavier but that their muscles haven't had the chance to experience the new heavier weight and that it is time to practice to allow the muscles to adapt to the new weight they need to carry. For the same reason, I let my 11month old practice hanging


Want to have your own rope? You need:

  • Find a spot in your house or garden to attach a rope to. Maybe you are lucky and have a tree. Maybe there is a beam somewhere that is strong enough? Maybe you can build (or have somebody build you) a structure from which to hang a rope?
  • Go to your local hard ware store and buy rope of the thickness you desire.
  • Attach it to wherever you want to attach it to and GO. We tied some knots into our rope to make climbing a bit easier.


In Part 2, I'll describe what to watch out for in terms of alignment when hanging and share a couple of floor exercises to build up some strength.




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