How to Climb a Tree
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How to Climb a Tree

How to climb a tree for fun and exercise.

Climbing a tree is not only a great way to connect to our playful memories of yesteryear, it is also a great workout for your arms, wrists, hands and fingers, especially strengthening the grip as good as any exercise out there, (in my humble opinion).  It may feel awkard to do and you may be ridiculed by those below, but if everyone realized what a great workout it is, they would be doing it.  It may be the next workout fad.  Of course it takes one with a decent level of athleticism and the ability to overcome the fear of heights that we are all born with to engage in those sort of life endangering workout, but with the right safeguards, you will greatly reduce the chances of a major or minor injury.  The great thing about the tree climbing workout is that it is a natural movement are bodies our accustomed to as our ancestors millions of years ago engaged in this behavior on a daily basis.  The body does not forget, but sometimes it needs a reminder.

Here are the few steps to climbing a Tree

1.  If you have a buddy that is belay certified and you are equipped with a harness and rope to greatly improve the chances that nothing goes wrong if you do slip it would be a great idea to use, both as a beginner to get acclimated to climbing a tree, or as a novice, or pro as a safeguard..However, if you free climb without rope, assume the worst can happen and use common sense and the instructions I provide below.

2.  Select a healthy dry tree that has a lot of sturdy, healthy limbs that are branched out so you can always reach the next higher one up easily (you'll thank me on the way down).

3.  Always test a limb's strength that your about to grab before committing any weight to it and make sure you have a firm hold of another branch as you grab the limb for backup.  That way if you grab a weak or dead branch, you'll have the other to save your fall.  Speaking of which; you should never have your full weight on any one branch, because if it snaps or you slip, and you haven't a grip on another branch for a safety net, you'll have to develop powers of levitation to escape, or be lucky enough to grab a branch before you land on you head.

3.  As you begin your ascent of the tree, take methodical steps with your foot placement on branches keeping the limbs centered under your shoe, with your weight even on each foot.  Always make sure to have at least one foot resting on a branch-never dangle your legs as you climb, you should always be using your legs and arms equally when climbing-something few beginners realize.  However, if you want a better arm workout, you can put more energy into lifting with your arms rather than stepping up with your feet-just always have at least a foot on a limb.

4.  As you climb, alternate your hands and feet with your movement giving each human limb a turn at touching each tree limb; i.e. right hand, then left foot, then left hand, then right foot.  Repeat until you have reached a good twenty feet from the top (DANGER-thins out up there, no need to try that).  Climb back down in the same fashion.

Advanced Technique

5.  If you are climbing a tree like a coconut that has no limbs except towards the top I find a good technique to use is to hug the backside of the tree with your hands, arms locked and outstretched.  Place your feet planted on the tree facing upright (you need flexible ankles), knees slightly bend and then shimmy your feet up until your body forms a sideways v facing the tree like so:  <I Once you have shimmied your legs up far enough towards your hands gripping the backside of the tree, a friction will form.   Make sure your hand grip is strong, if it is not you'll simply fall backwards.  Once you have achieved the sideways V against the tree and feel comfortable, the only way your body should be able to move is if you swivel sideways in a circle around the tree.  Once your comfortable and centered, you can then shimmy your hands and feet up carefully and slowly until you have reached a desired nest of limbs from which you can perch atop. To get down do the same thing in reverse.  If you start to panic or lose your grip, just bear hug the tree, and resign yourself to some scratched arms, legs and confidence as you slide down in shame-just kidding.  This form of climbing takes great grip strength, balance, and confidence, otherwise it is a scary proposal.  If with those three things it is dicey.  I don't recommend it.

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