Mobility: What, How and Why Part 2

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So last time in Mobility Part 1 we talked a little bit about what mobility is NOT, the frequency it should be done and how you identify what to work on. A quick refresher:

1) Mobility needs to be done everyday
2) We care about our movement itself, not necessarily how “flexible” we are
3) Test and retest a movement to see if you’ve made change

So now that we’ve caught you up, our mobility primer continues:

#4: Restore Before, Lengthen After

As many of the movements we perform in Crossfit are explosive, there are two different types of mobility that should be performed at different times. BEFORE your workout, all you want to do is RESTORE your body to its current range of motion. You’re warming up, getting the kinks out and making sure everything is lubed up and running hot. The name of the game here is controlled, dynamic and functional. AFTER the workout is when you can look into INCREASING range of motion. This is the time for your dedicated positional holds, your pain faces and the lengthening of muscle. Too much lengthening before a workout will leave you loose. Flaccid even. No one wants this.

#5: We’re really just Meat

From a physiological standpoint we’re just slabs of meat tied to sticks. It’s helpful to remember this when you’re in the dark pain of a dedicated mobility session. Since we’re just meat, a couple of things we apply to steak can be applied to us. First: Tenderize before cooking. If the stretching and band work is the cooking, then foam rolling and lacrosse balls are the tenderizer. Ideally we want to smash our trouble spots with these tools before stretching them. We do this to break up sticky clusters of muscle, work out knots and smooth out the fascia that covers our muscles (think the thin film of a sausage that holds the meat in). After this is when we can lengthen the muscles and work on positional holds (cooking). Second: Cut against the grain. Just like steak it’s always a better idea to cut against the grain of our muscles. The grain is the longest direction of our limbs as muscle fibres attach at a joint usually and run straight to another. So while rolling up and down your quad may feel good (or not), you’ll get more out of it by see-sawing horizontally with as much pressure as you can stand.

#6: Don’t fight your attention span

For dedicated mobility work you really only need about 10 minutes per day. So, pick a movement that you feel needs work (lets say squat) and then pick one or two mobilizations that help that movement (couch stretch and squat holds). Spend 10 minutes a day for at least a month on just those mobilizations. Split your 10 minutes responsibly between sides of the body but make sure there’s AT LEAST 2 minutes of continuous work per side (5 would be better). Don’t get fancy, don’t jump around to all the latest, coolest mobilizations. Hunker down, grab a coffee, do the work. Stick with it till you see change.

The next part will be the last part. Buckle up for Mobility Part 3, coming soon.

-Jesse Kirkeby
CrossFit Newmarket Central & CrossFit Aurora Central

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