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An In-Depth Look at Mobility

By April 5, 2012No Comments

In this whole life challenge mobility is ?part of your daily points. This means that if you want to win that big pot of money, and be healthier at the same time you are probably spending some quality time mobilizing. The goal of this guide is to make sure you guys know what you are doing, know why you are doing it, and doing it correctly. To help keep things simple this will be divided up into two separate but equal parts. The first part will discuss what kind of actions are inside the umbrella term mobilization. The second part will be some advice as to what to mobilize, when. So lets get started, mobilization in my eyes has three big categories: Smoothing things out, stretching things out, and mobilizing things out(ok that doesn’t really flow, but at least it’s symmetrical).

1. Smoothing things out

This category refers to all of those good times we’ve all had with the foam roller and lax ball. As most of you have heard, your muscles have a covering that gets knotted up, and needs to be smoothed out. To accomplish that task, you simply get a foam roller and a lacrosse ball and go to town whenever you are sore. However your muscles are also not the only thing that gets all knotted and junky. Your connective tissues such as tendons, and ligaments also get in bad shape. For these areas you typically need a lax ball because the area is really small, and needs to be targeted. However your limits as to what you can mobilize with is really only limited by your imagination. You can you a foam roller,a piece of PVC pipe, a barbell,a lacrosse ball, a softball, or pretty much anything thats harder than a tennis ball. ?For the sake of full disclosure when you begin your mobile journey, smoothing things out will be a very painful experience. However the more time you spend doing it, the less it will hurt(as with all things CrossFit).

So here’s some advice for those of you in the challenge. You can take a lacrosse ball, put it underneath your desk at work, and get to smoothing out all that tissue on the bottom of your foot. Focus on the middle of the foot and your heel. Not only will you be ticking the time of the required time for the day, but it will also feel awesome.

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This is Kelly and Roxanne enjoying some foam roller time.

2. Stretching Things Out

We stretch things out when we put ourselves in a position to increase a certain range of motion with no extra objects, or forces acting on us. This is what most people think of when we say mobilizing. Stretching is an incredibly important part of our everyday life. We do it right after we wake up, before we work out, sometimes before we go to bed. The goal of stretching is to increase the range of motion of a certain joint. There are tons of stretches that you can do to help you be more mobile, less aches and pains, and move better.

Once again another quick tip for really anyone, but for those in the challenge this tip could pay big dividends when it comes to the final workout! When you are stretching when you hit that end of the stretch(you know the part where you can’t stretch anymore, and you feel like you are going to rip in half), if you flex against that stretch and then try again you may find that you can stretch further. I’m not sure of the exact anatomical wizardry behind this, but it works!

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group stretching is so much better, and is also sometimes called Yoga

3. Mobilizing

This is the fun part. I consider the mobilization part to be when we use external objects to help us increase our range of motion. These objects could be foam rollers, kettlebells, lax balls, bands, or any of these items in conjunction with each other. The goal with all of mobilizing is to make you move better, but what I am talking about is trying to increase your range of motion through a specific movement, and creating a safer, more stable position for the body. That movement could be putting weight up over head, hitting the bottom of a squat, or even getting up and down off of the ground.

Now for another quick mobilization tip that could help you guys get those points in the WLC. You guys may or may not remember the stretch we did last week with the Kb and the foam roller(I know I like to block out painful memories too), but you don’t necessarily need a Kb to do that stretch. All you really need is a piece of PVC pipe or foam roller which you can get here(There’s nothing wrong with a little shameless self-promotion) and something you can’t lift. So you can grab your handy foam roller, and the corner of you couch and get to it.

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What and When to Mobilize

Now like most things in the CrossFitness world things need to be constantly varied and functional. Here is a quick and dirty outline of what you could mobilize when for best results:

Ankles/Feet- Spend some time on your feet and ankles when there is running, jumping, jumping rope, or lunging. Obviously this is not exclusive but these exercises will abuse your feet and ankles more than anything else.

Knees- The knees are very important to almost everything we do including walking, however they could really use some lax ball love during squats, wall ball, or pretty much anything where you are squatting below parallel. Here’s another piece of anatomical wizardry, when you are well hydrated you hear/feel less of that crunchy noise in your knees.

Hips/Lower Back- The good ‘ole hips are the engine for most everything we do. However pay attention to them whenever you see deadlift, kb swings, rowing, or squats.

Shouders/Upper Back- your shoulders are key anytime we are pushing or pulling(I know very descriptive). However whenever you are putting weight up over head, or pull-ups, or anything on the rings take some special time to focus on your shoulders.

Elbows/Wrists- This is also important in the pressing of weight overhead, and more specifically anytime you think you may encounter the dreaded front rack position.

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Alright guys this is a broad look at mobilizing, but I hope everyone who read it gathered something from it. If you want to know more you should check out Kelly Starrett’s blog. He’s way smarter than I am, and he uses cool words like pain cave, super friends, and supple leopards.