Feature photo by Paul Smith, Simply Perfection Photography
Mobility is essential to athletic performance and CrossFit is no exception to the rule. Moving functionally requires the ability to be in proper positions to optimize technique, insure safety and maximize efficiency by allowing joints to sit at the correct angle for peak mechanical advantage and muscle recruitment.
In a program such as CrossFit in which human movement is put to use in virtually every plane of movement, a consistent routine to eliminate restrictions is invaluable to better performance and health. The approach to mobility is simple – find restricted tissue and restore range of motion. The methods can vary and there are an increasingly wide range of mobility tools and devices to restore range of motion.
Here are the essentials to get you started:
A roller is most everyone’s first mobility tool and for good reason – it’s easy to use, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fun. If you’ve ever taken a roller to the quads or IT bands, you know exactly what I mean. A roller is used to reform larger muscle groups, especially the muscles of the legs, glutes, and lats. For beginners, a simple foam roller will do and can be found at any sports shop or even Walmart and Target. For an intermediate or advanced trainee, I recommend the GRID Roller from Trigger Point. Though a bit more expensive than your local option, the harder and knobby surface of the GRID Roller takes “rolling out” to the next level with more aggressive penetration deep into the muscle.
Mobility balls are best suited to smaller and harder to reach areas such as the space between and around the shoulders, upper back, lower legs, and even feet or elbows. The lowest cost options is a simple lacrosse ball for just a few bucks at any sporting goods stores, but if you’re willing to dish a little extra dough, mobility kits such as the ones from Massage Track come with balls of varying hardness and even an instructional DVD that more than makeup for the cost, especially for a beginner trainee in need of guidance.
Compression tack and flossing work twofold by restoring sliding surfaces of matted down tissues while also providing compression to move out swelling from joints and tissues. Because the Voodoo Floss Band can be used while actually performing the movements in which you desire change, it is especially effective to restoring mobility for very specific needs. You’ve got squats today? Wrap up your knees, quads, hips, ankles or calves with the Voodoo band and move through a few of your warmup reps for an immediate response. The same band can be used for self-assistance in passive and PNF stretches that might be otherwise difficult without a partner.
With the three simple tools listed above and the dedication to a consistent schedule, you can move more effectively, more safely, and more human. But wait, there’s more!
Mobility is a tough battle – although you certainly will get what you put into it, inflicting self pain can be a losing battle. For those who need more direction than the well-intentioned, although vague, “go mobilize!” here are some additional resources to check out:
ROMWOD is yoga…for CrossFitters. Founded by brothers with combined experience in martial arts, CrossFit, coaching and even acrobatics, ROMWOD provides daily online programming for only $14/month. Follow along with the instructional videos that give you a class-like experience wherever you go.
Kelly Starret could be considered a pioneer to the systematic approach of mobility in the CrossFit scene. MobilityWOD provides a seemingly endless supply of resources from free videos, seminars, unique tools and daily programming. Perhaps most well known of these resources is The Supple Leopard – AKA the Mobility Bible.
Tim Simansky is a sports chiropractor and movement specialist with heavy involvement in the sport and exercise of CrossFit. For $15/month you can have full access to WOD DOC’s video library, member Q&A and webinars. At the very least, follow The Doc on Instagram for quick hacks and short videos.
With all of these resources and essential recommendations you’re left with no excuses! Like your fitness, mobility is forged through dedication to the program. Just 10-15 minutes a day can make a tremendous difference…start now!
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