This thing called MOBILITY!
...the who, what, why, when & where?
WHO needs mobility?
ALL of us!
Boot-campers, yogis, olympic lifters, fire-breathers...young-uns, tweens, masters...arthritic or not…
WE. ALL. NEED. TO. MOBILIZE.
WHAT is mobility?
Mobility is simply the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. It is the strength you have in the range of motion of any particular muscle/muscle group.
There are several ‘types’ of mobility work, too…depending on the work being done, you may use lots of fun ‘toys’ or ‘torture devices’ to help maximize your benefits.
-Soft tissue mobilization is when you use a foam roller, lacrosse ball, kettlebell, barbell, or any other object to help move soft tissue.
-Banded joint mobilization is when you use strength bands to correct positioning or reposition a joint.
-Spinal mobilization uses lacrosse balls (often 2 taped together or in a sock), foam roller, etc to release/unlock any stiffened vertebral joints along your spine.
-Static Stretching helps to relax the muscles and get them into the most ideal position- with or without the assistance of another force (like your hand) to achieve that position.
As CrossFitters we need to strive for overall mobility (aka structural balance). Structural balance is by far the most important thing you need for growth, health and injury-prevention. balanced body that is mobile everywhere is almost bulletproof to injuries because it doesn't have any weak links. This allows an athlete to perform and handle any posture/position the body requires. Also, because everything is working correctly, no joint endures excess strain...preventing chronic injury.
The body is an incredible machine. IT WANTS TO MAINTAIN BALANCE. Regular, intentional mobility practices can serve as the body's injury prevention mechanism. Without it, an athlete (no matter the skill level) will not be able to grow to his/her full potential, because the body will restrict growth in order to stay healthy and to prevent injuries. Pretty cool, eh?
WHY do I need mobility work?
For most of us, some parts of our body just seem to cooperate more than others. We may attribute limited mobility to ‘old age’, ‘an old football injury’, or even ‘the weather’. And undoubtedly we all experience SORENESS after intensely working certain muscle groups (...damn lunges!) but it’s critical that we distinguish the difference between SORENESS and PAIN. Many athletes mistakenly consider pain to be a normal part of the training process. Pain is not normal. Chronic injuries are NOT ‘part of the game’. It doesn’t make you a better/stronger athlete to ‘push through the pain’ and cause further injury. What makes you a better athlete is listening to your body and working diligently to address its specific needs at any given time. Intentional mobility is the key, that is...if you really want to reach your full potential.
Limited mobility can have a negative impact on your CrossFit performance in several ways:
-You lose power by performing movements with less-than-optimal mechanics.
-When you expend more energy in your movements than you otherwise would, it slows down your WOD progress.
-When you can’t get your body into the optimal position for a particular movement, it makes the exercise much harder.
WHEN should I mobilize?
Ever wonder why our warm-ups don’t consist of long periods of stretching before a WOD?
Well, that’s because too much stretching and/or soft tissue mobility can be a hinderance to your workout and could possibly make you more susceptible to injury. Dynamic movements like high knees, straight-leg marches, butt kicks, hip circles, air squats, lunges, or even rowing/biking will much better lengthen a muscle...but will do so with movement, creating ‘heat’ to better prepare muscles for exercise. Static stretch holds should not be for much longer than 30-45 seconds before a workout (if at all). Even dynamic stretching movements like arm circles, leg swings, spider-mans, and inchworms are more beneficial after the body is somewhat warm.
Soft tissue work with foam rollers, lacrosse balls, etc are best after a workout (or even before bed!) according to most fitness experts.
Band work (for joint mobilization- not stretching) is good at any time...especially beneficial before a workout since we want our joints in the correct position so that our muscles can move efficiently.
Spinal mobilization...also a good idea before a workout...or really any time of day. It can be incredibly relaxing if you take your time (before bed, perhaps) and breathe into every inch of your spine...it’s a great release...
Static stretching should be reserved for after a workout. If you are feeling especially tight and feel the need to stretch before a workout...keep it to 30-45 second holds or less. I will always remember one of our coaches at 330 telling me early on in my CrossFit journey to lessen the stretching I did pre-WOD (coming from a yoga background...that was difficult for me!). Before a deadlift workout, he/she (I can’t remember exactly who it was) said to think of your hamstrings gearing up to go into battle with the weight you’re about to pull off the floor...you don’t want them loose and weak, you want them solid, strong & ready for battle! ...This is also why we discourage you to WOD after a RESTORE class!
WHERE can I get more info?
Your coaches at 330 can help to suggest specific movements and/or exercises for your particular needs...just ask! They are the experts in the gym and want to see you work safely and efficiently to maximize your potential. (...and if they don’t have the answers you need, they will help you FIND them!)
I would also recommend subscribing to Kelly Starrett’s (the GREEK GOD of all things mobility) YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/sanfranciscocrossfit
Also...if you haven’t seen our teasers, RESTORE is returning on Saturday, October 14! It will be offered Tuesday evening and Saturday morning. Hope to see you all there! Can’t wait to get back to it!
Bottom line...while yes, we all want to lift heavy and make gains...the barbell alone won’t get you there. Listen to your body & react intentionally….
Be proactive with your mobility and your body will THANK YOU...and those PRs will feel damn good, too.