Climbing High With Hemophilia
Dads, do you know what I think is one of the best fitness exercises to do with and teach to your kids…Rope Climbing. We just built a climbing wall at our ranch, and it has been one of the best things for teaching my son, and others kids, to not only climb but to build strength and courage to do things that they were first afraid to do. One day, a rock climber friend of mine said, “Andy, you need a few ropes hanging from trees to teach kids to climb up, and they would be good for you, too.” Well, if you know me, I am always looking a new form of workout and learning how to climb a rope is something I have always wanted to do. I can tell you that neither I nor my little son, Keeton, could climb a rope straight up….but now, both of us can. I am not as quick as the ninja warriors, but I can climb up an 18 to 20 foot rope and it has become one of the biggest accomplishments and best workouts I have ever done. It has also been one of the best things for me to teach my son to do and that has built his confidence in doing something he could not even think about doing before we started.
So, I started thinking I need to get the word out to parents of all children, but especially ones with hemophilia, that if they are looking for a safe thing to do that is physically challenging and will build strength without being hard on the joints…This Is It. All you need is some place, preferably a large tree, that you can hang a large rope and you can begin teaching your kid to climb a rope. Then, discover how much they will love it, as well as, give them something to succeed in which they can show their friends and have fun teaching their friend how to do something that no one else can do.
Unless you have as many trees as I do at our ranch, you will probably not be able to have as many sizes as I do, but you can start with just one rope. I like to use a one inch rope or one and a quarter and then tie knots in it and off you go. You will probably have to go online to find one, I like to use www.knotandropesupply.com. They have all the manila rope you will ever need. I am telling you that I have had kids much older than Keeton (who is almost 5) that could not get up more than one knot and after ten or 20 climbs up and they started learning how to do it, you would think they climbed a 10,000 mountain! I am very safety conscious and even with Keeton, who does not have hemophilia, I am always at the bottom, in case he falls. But I will tell you, nobody has ever fallen once and I think it is because once you are up in air, you hold on for dear life and do not ever think about letting go of that rope. At home, I even put out about 4 bags of mulch just in case my son did ever fall when I was real close and to cushion the fall a lot. One of the best things rope climbing does is builds your upper body strength. This is awesome for kids with hemophilia because it can really help to prevent elbow bleeds by building arm strength. Again, because rope climbing is mostly decompression movements it is easier on the joints.
Moms and dads, rope climbing is awesome for you, too. I am even working on my wife to climbing the 1 and 1/14 inch. When I was young I could not really ever play sports and I never did anything like this growing up, so you could say I am reliving my childhood a little at the age of 45. It is great to find an activity that both my son and I can do as he is growing up. I always tell parents if you are active with your kids, they will be active, too. This is just one of many activities that you can do with your son or daughter to promote exercise and confidence and basically have a lot of fun doing. I challenge men to start climbing up a knotted rope just like your kid does and just push yourself to go higher and higher. Then when you have mastered the knotted rope and can do 20 or so pull-ups, you can push yourself even more to climb up a straight rope (without knots). I can tell you, it’s a rush when you finally get to the top of that rope.
I have decided the ideal rope is a 50 foot rope that you just swing a couple of times over a large limb and have a knotted rope on one side and a straight rope on the other. It’s the easy way to attach the rope to the tree with a bonus of two ropes rather than one.
Good luck and I would love to hear some success stories of what you have done with your rope and other success stories and activities you try with your kids!!