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Cairn Blog: Discussing Outdoor Gear

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Stretch it out: Killer Stretches For Rock Climbers

August 03, 2017

As with any sport, mobility plays an important role in overall performance and recovery. Climbing is no exception. For climbers, mobility can help with ease of climbing, climbing endurance and recovery after climbing multiple routes.

If you are a Cairn subscriber and have designated rock climbing as one of your top outdoor activities, you likely received our July Climbing Collection. The collection contained some innovative climbing gear, and we thought we’d follow it up by sharing some industry-vetted tips on staying loose so you can hit up all those routes on your summer bucket list...injury free!

We sat down with Nicholas Hagen, a licensed physical therapist at Rebound Physical Therapy in Bend, Oregon, to pick his brain about useful stretches, ideal for climbers of all levels. Check out these awesome exercises, endorsed by Nick, and give them a try before or after your next climb! 😊 👍🏻

Mobility Exercises

1. One-Leg Pigeon Pose: “Due to how much most of us sit during the day, this exercise allows for improved reach during climbs and more access to glute control, while freeing up the posterior lateral hip or the back-outside part of the hip. Maintain a neutral pelvis, sternum, and shoulders as you sink the hip into the ground. Hold 2 times on each side for 10 deep stomach breaths.” - Nick

2. Bretzel Stretch: “Go through this stretch one segment at a time to mobilize your thoracic spine, glutes, hips, hip flexor, and quads. Start with the top knee bent on the ground and above hip height. Keep the top knee fixated on the ground, then grab the bottom leg ankle and twist your trunk while relaxing your head and neck. Hold 2 times on each side for 10 deep stomach breaths.” - Nick

3. Downward Dog: “The key is to perform a hip hinge motion, bending from the hips and not the spine, to elevate your butt into the air. This will mobilize your thoracic (mid back) hips, and shoulders. With your arms, think about pushing the ground away from you moving your weight backwards to elevate your hips. Shoulders should be activated and your mid-spine dropped to the ground. Hold 2 times on each side for 10 deep stomach breaths.” - Nick

4. Quadruped Thoracic Rotation: “This stretch allows you to free up your ankles, knees, mid-back, and chest. Sit on your heels to prevent your low back from getting involved in the stretch. The key is to purely rotate--there should be no side bend or shift in the stretch. Perform 2 sets of 5 repetitions on each side.” - Nick

5. Hip openers: “This is the ultimate hip stretch, combining all motions available in the hip. The hips stretch in a position where the thigh to trunk, ankle and knee angle on each leg is at a 90 degree angle. Rotate to reverse your position without allowing your back to round or collapse. Perform 2 sets of 3 laps of the motion.” - Nick

Stability Exercises

6. Wall High Step Hold: “This stretch activates your trunk and leg in a functional position. The point of emphasis is to keep a straight leg from the back of the head to the heel, and no bend in the knee or trunk. Drive your hip toward the wall at the top of the motion while attempting to load the big toe. Perform 2 sets of 8 reps on each side.” - Nick

7. Face Down W Hold: “This is an exercise to stabilize the core of the shoulders and work on trunk stability. Attempt to get into a W position with your wrists higher than your elbows. The motion should come from the shoulders -not the spine. Avoid arching of the low back where the belly should stay unloaded off the ground. Once ready, progress to a reaching motion. Perform 2 sets of holds until fatigued.” - Nick

8. Core Activation to Bicycle: “This exercise works on activation and stabilization of the core. Get into a position to challenge your core to work, and once you feel core activation, do a dynamic motion to challenge your body even more. Be sure to have the neck slightly elevated and chin tucked throughout and the tail bone elevated off the ground. The force on the knees is upward and should be maintained throughout this exercise. Perform 2 sets of 12 reps total.” - Nick

9. Spiderman Mountain Climbers: “This is a progression of a traditional mountain climber. You are doing a more end range hip motion with this stretch, while also doing a push up motion. The goal is to bring the knee outward and up to hit the same side elbow. It is important to maintain a spine alignment without a sag in your low back or rounding of your mid back. Perform 2 sets of 12 reps total.” - Nick

10. Towel Grip Row: “It is necessary for climbers to have good grip. Grip strength is determined by both forearm/finger strength and shoulder/neck strength. This exercise works on all those components. The key with the row motion is to keep your spine neutral, the chin tucked, and pull the shoulder blades down and together. Perform 2 sets of 12 reps total.” - Nick


Thanks for allowing me to share my expertise with you.

Happy (and safe) climbing! -Nick

*If you have concerns about your health and these exercises, consult a physician before practicing any of these stretches.

Get to know Nick Hagen

If you thought having two professional titles was a lot, try having five. Nick gets to sign his name as follows: Nicholas Hagen, PT, DPT, SCS, CFMT, CSCS. Now that’s a title and just a bit of training experience! 😱  🙌🏽

A licensed physical therapist since 2009, Nick is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (2009) and a Certified Sports Clinical Specialists (2011). He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder in Integrated Physiology and completed his doctorate of physical therapy (DPT) at the University of California San Francisco.

After PT school, Nick finished a sports physical therapy residency in Vail, Colorado with Howard Head Sports Medicine Center. Following residency training, he was selected to participate in a traveling sports medicine fellowship. He recently finished his functional manual therapy certification (CFMT) from the Institute of Physical Art. As of Fall 2016, he is a member of the Oregon NSCA advisory board. Nick has consulted for the Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, US Ski Team, and several NCAA teams--to name a few.

He’s also been published in the International Journal of Physical Therapy and APTA online journal. Nick has spoken at national conferences (Combined Sections Meeting, APTA) and local conferences (NSCA state clinic, Portland State Athletic Performance Summit). He has taught courses in ACL rehabilitation, hip arthroscopy rehabilitation, and power training in athletes. Nick currently is the clinic manager and performance director at Rebound Physical Therapy in Bend, Oregon.


Where are your favorite spots to climb and which one of these stretches will you use most after a day of climbing? Share with us on our Facebook page!

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What do honey bees and sunglasses have in common?

July 27, 2017

Who doesn't love a good pair of sunnies--are we right!? We all know, or should know, that it’s highly important to protect your eyes from the bright, harsh sun--and of course look good while we do it!😎 👍🏻

A business with purpose, the folks at Nectar Sunglasses are making waves in the eyewear industry, and for good reason. These glasses are the BEES-KNEES (see what we did there 😉 ). Not only are they rad sunglasses, but by wearing them you’ll help to protect something that is just as important as your eyes--the HONEYBEES! We had the chance this month to catch up with Meredith Mathias, Director of Sales at Nectar Sunglasses to pick her brain about this special company.

Why sunglasses?

Let’s face it, we live in a world full of material things that we’re all accustomed to having in our daily life. Things that we think make our life a little better. Out of all the possible business venture ideas in the material goods industry, what drove the choice to start a business in the sunglass industry?

“At the time, there were only a handful of brands that were seen as “cool” with quality eyewear at an affordable price. In the last few years, people have been spending more money on experiences rather than luxury goods so we wanted to offer a product with a style and personality that embraces the best experiences life has to offer.” - Meredith

Nectar’s incredible mission to repopulate the honeybee population is enough to make us want to purchase ALL the pairs of Nectar sunglasses, but standing out in the sunglass industry can seem like quite the challenge. How did you approach this challenge?

“Our price, quality and lifetime warranty are some of the many ways we stand out from our competitors. Over the past five years, we’ve become more than just a name – we represent a lifestyle and a community that connects people from all over the world.” - Meredith

Looking into the future

No one can know for sure what the future holds; but Nectar’s future is so bright, they have to wear shades, literally! 😎  🙌

“Because we’re a dynamic brand that is constantly evolving and adapting to new needs in the market, we see great opportunity for growth and expansion. We currently offer merchandise outside of eyewear including phone cases, wristbands, hats and more, and we will continue to feature new and exciting products down the line.” - Meredith

Setting out to save the bees!

Honeybees, huh? How did the good folks at Nectar get behind honeybees as a cause to support and why are bees such a big deal?

“We had a chance to meet the owner of Savannah Bee Company, who is a big surfer as well. He explained the story behind The Bee Cause and that they were looking for more support to raise awareness of the declining bee population, which pollinates 80% of our crops. We’ve always been environmentally conscious and we truly believe in this cause and the impact it carries. There’s also a nice parallel between the cause and our brand name, which made it a natural fit. Since the partnership started last July, we’ve helped repopulate over 400K bees!” - Meredith

Over 400 thousand bees and counting! We told you this brand was the BEES-KNEES! 🙌🏽


Where will you sport your cool new Nectar Sunglasses this summer? Share with us on Facebook or Instagram by tagging @getcairn in your photos and using #cairnrocks!

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Changing the Rock Climbing Game

July 20, 2017

One thing every climber knows--even those who just dabble in the sport from time to time--is that chalk is your best friend. You won’t get too far up a route with slippery, sweaty hands, which is why climbers have those handy dandy chalk bags attached to their hips.

Our friends at FrictionLabs know climbing. It’s in their DNA, which is why it comes as no surprise to us that they are changing the chalk game with their Secret Stuff chalk cream, included in this month’s climbing collection. Whether you’re an avid climber, or just like to take on an occasional route and call it a day, you’re gonna wanna get your hands on this stuff--literally!🙌🏽  Secret Stuff is no joke--  it will have you climbing longer distances with less chalking up along the way. It is the future for climbing chalk, and what climber doesn’t want to be able to hang out a little longer, with a little more grip and a lot less worry!

We had the chance to catch up with Keah, co-founder, of FrictionLabs, and learn more about the secret behind the best chalk in climbing.

The Idea Was Born

Most ideas tend to first start with a problem, and the need for a solution. For Keah and FrictionLabs, that problem was generic climbing chalk--it just wasn’t doing the job anymore.

“As climbers ourselves, we were disappointed by the quality and consistency of generic chalk. It didn’t seem like anyone out there had really tried to find a better way, which was crazy since grip-strength and skin health are so critical to a climber’s success. After collaborating with a few scientists to learn more about chalk and how it works, we were convinced that there was an opportunity to make a high purity product, manufactured responsibly in the USA, that climbers would actually love! Fast forward 3 years and our chalk is now the choice of most professional climbers and is on the shelves in climbing gyms and leading retailers all over the world.”

Launching the Business

Starting any business is always going to be nerve racking/slightly terrifying.

After putting hours of time and effort into an idea that you poured your blood, sweat and tears into, you never know if your business idea will actually take off--risk taking at an all time high! Luckily for Keah and FrictionLabs, their idea was solid and started making waves in the climbing industry. Today they are leaders in climbing innovation and show so sign of slowing down.👊🏻

“The first order is obviously always memorable. Getting a message that someone, somewhere, actually bought something you created is surreal and thrilling. Ours was a stranger in Ohio buying a bag of our chalk after somehow stumbling on our website that was still in development!

Really though, the first BIG moment was when a Japanese distributor emailed us after testing our chalk to say “Good feeling we have!” and placed an order. At the time, we both still had full-time jobs and we were doing everything FrictionLabs out of Kevin’s(FrictionLabs Co-founder) basement at night. That was probably the moment we knew it could be a real business. And we’re thrilled that we still work with that distributor today to make our chalk available to climbers in Japan.”

Big Wins

Any little success as a small company trying to get off the ground is a HUGE win.🙌🏽 For FrictionLabs, one of their biggest wins was learning to collaborate with the big dogs of their target market--professional climbers.

“Pro climbers are these incredible athletes who have committed themselves to developing our sport. They are the source of so much inspiration and growth in the climbing community. One of our biggest wins has been learning how to support these pros in a way that helps grow their individual brands, and our brand, as well as psych up the climbing community. Some recent examples of this are Rooftown Volume 1 and Volume 2, where we follow Matt Gentile as he roams the badlands of Arizona developing these unbelievable boulders he discovers inside caves, along canyons, and on remote rivers..

Not JUST For Climbers

What may have started out as a product for climbers quickly developed into a product for any athlete (climbers are good at sharing, too!). After all, climbers aren’t the only ones who need a little extra grip on what they do.

“ We think of our users as High-Care Athletes. Whether they are brand new climbers or seasoned pros, they care about performing at their best. They demand a lot from themselves and they expect their gear to live up to that standard, too. It’s such an honor to be part of their success.

An unexpected surprise has been seeing the adoption of our chalk by High-Care Athletes outside of climbing. We get great emails and reviews from gymnasts, weightlifters, high intensity athletes, basketball players, track and field athletes, and even golfers and tennis players telling us how our chalk has helped them succeed. Climbing is our core and it’s awesome to see that chalk designed for the needs and demands of rock climbers can give the best grip to all High-Care Athletes.”

If you are a rock climber and received our climbing collection this month, then you’re probably pretty stoked on life right now--we know we are! From the Trango Cord Trapper Rope Tarp that dually functions as a tarp AND a bag to keep your ropes untangles and clean, to the  So Ill Finger Massager that will provide your hands with the attention they deserve after a long climb, and of course the delicious Buddy’s Nut Butter to give you a little extra fuel along the way! 😄

We love finding unique, new and emerging gear for our subscribers, and we’d love to hear how you are using yours! Where are you climbing this summer? And how are you using your Cairn collection gear? Share with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Not a subscriber yet? Don’t miss out on next month. Sign up now!

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The running man: Tips for Running a 50+ Mile Race

July 13, 2017

Long distance runners know all too well the time commitment and the stamina it takes to train for and complete a distance race. But, if you’re just starting out with training for a full marathon or longer race, you may be wondering, “how will I ever get to the finish line?” Luckily, our Cairn Crew has the pleasure of working with one of our very own distance-running junkies! When he isn’t translating data for our team into plain English (no small feat), Ryan Manies is running. If you thought 26.2 miles was a lot, well try 50+ miles--that’s more Ryan’s style. This summer he’s gearing up for the Cuyamaca 100k held this October near San Diego, California.

Ryan let us dive into his world to find out just what it takes to accomplish these long distance runs, and how to get ready for a big race.

Diet Tips

Fueling up to run any distance is crucial, but when you're running distances as far as Ryan is, your diet is equally important as all of the training you did. Eating the right foods before, during and after a race supplies your body with enough energy to go the distance and also recover. Know what works best for your body, and stick with those foods before a big run 👊🏻.

“Gels, Bars and Salt!  Use your long training runs to figure out your own nutrition game plan.  Having this dialed will help you execute on race day.” -Ryan

Whatever your favorite carbs are, fill that plate up the night before your race and don’t be afraid to have seconds--your body will need it to take you to the finish line 😉  🙌🏽.

Training like a pro  

Training to run 50+ miles is almost like having a second job--a very sweaty, exhausting, and REWARDING second job. These long distance races are a HUGE commitment for anyone who decides to sign up, but will give you mad bragging rights once you cross that finish line! For Ryan, training is all about the quality vs quantity.

“ My preparation is usually centered on the quality of my miles versus quantity of miles.  When my schedule is tight during the week I try my best to simulate running on tired legs. This comes from a combination of things such as:

  • Trying to run twice in one day.  Even if the distance is short on both runs (3-4 miles) the second run is on tired legs which simulate how you feel towards the end of an Ultra run. 
  • Make the weekends count by doing two long runs (10+) back to back.   I can’t spend the entire weekend running on trails so this usually means starting at early hours, but the cooler morning temps and quiet trails make up for the lack of sleep.
  • There is more than one way to tire your legs!  I use a standing desk at work all day.  Build up by trying 20 min. increments if you use to sitting at your desk!” - Ryan

We can’t promise your friends won’t call you crazy, but at least you’ll be able to out run them in a foot race! 👊🏻 🎉

Pre-race regime

What you do the night before a race, or even two or three nights before a race can drastically impact your race day performance. As you know, getting adequate rest every night is important for overall health, and is even more so when preparing to push your body to it’s running limits. 👍🏻 😴

“Aim to get your best, uninterrupted, night of sleep 2 nights before a race.  There are too many variables the night before a race that can make it difficult to sleep well.” - Ryan

Take yourself back to middle school and set a strict curfew and bedtime and stick to it for the days leading up to your run--your race day mind and body will thank you 😊  🙌🏽.

Beating the burnout

With anything you do for hours upon hours, there is always going to be the challenge to beat the burnout. Running is no exception, but Ryan has figured out what needs to do to keep running fun!🏃🏼 🙌🏽 

“Mix it up! I always try to explore new trails to run at even if this means driving a little longer to the trailhead or by camping in new areas. I also try to mix up the race distances I do.  At the end of July 2017 I will be doing a 1 mile race that I think will go by very fast (no need for music on this one)” -Ryan

It also helps to have a favorite trail nearby to go to when you need a little extra motivation. 😄

“One of my favorite loops in Central Oregon is the Green Lakes to Soda Creek loop.  It has a nice climb on the way to Green Lakes that gets the heart rate up. However the views of the surrounding area and the combination of varied terrain you experience within the 12 mile loop (11.8 to be exact) make it worth the extra effort.” -Ryan

Whether Ryan has inspired you to go out and run 5 miles or 50 miles, we think you are ALL running rockstars! 🙌🏽

“You can do it! Sign up for races that will help you build up to that distance before you sign-up for the 50+ mile race.  Find local runners in your community to run with – having a running buddy depending on you to show up will motivate you to get out more often.  I also recommend volunteering at a longer race.  You get to see first hand what the racers have to endure and it will be easy to see the issues that are exposed by 50+ mile race – blisters, bonking and dehydration! -Ryan

Everyone is different, so before running any long distance race please consult your physician, trainer, health coach or whoever it may be to make sure your body is in good condition to start training. It’s also helpful to have a training buddy, so find a friend who likes to run and sign up for a race together! And for Ryan, well you just keep doing your thing and we will be cheering you on every step, or thousand of steps, of the way!

Are you training for a race this summer? Share with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Not a Cairn subscriber yet? Don’t miss out on next month. Sign up now!

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