Mobilize your body

So I was wondering if you could share with the group your philosophy when it comes to mobility?  I know I could spend more time working on my mobility and flexibility and could definitely used some guidance.  A few weeks back I was taking a class from Yago and we were doing a lot of mobility work.  He mentioned there was a website that had daily mobility WODs, and suggested everyone check it out and do some mobility work on our days off.  Well, I totally forgot the guys name and couldn’t find it on google (or atleast I didn’t find what I thought I was looking for ? 🙂 )  I could easily ask him, but I wanted to see what your take on this was.  Do you have certain mobility exercises that you could recommend to everyone?  or Do you have general suggestions for before and after workout stretching, certain things we should be doing daily, etc? – BY

This is a fantastic topic for the 5th week of our journey towards better health. The topic for this week is going to be tissue health. That’s right, I didn’t say mobility, but rather the health of your tissues. We are all getting into the gym a few times a week and moving our bodies well. But what steps are you taking to ensure that you optimize the healing process of your bodies? Are there things you can do on your own time to maximize the workouts you have in the gym? The answer is a simple YES. In particular we will talk in this post about mobility and what it means to mobilize your bodies.

First I will direct you all to a website that I have found extremely useful in framing my thinking about movement and tissue health. Kelly Starrett of San Francisco CrossFit has been leading the charge on mobility for years now. Trained as a Physical Therapist (PT) and one of the first 50 CrossFit gym owners ever, Kelly has blended traditional PT knowledge with CrossFit to improve athletes performance more than anyone else in the community. Whether your goal is to get a faster time on a workout, improve your technique and position in functional movements, or reduce pain you have in your body, Kelly helps us all get there. Visit his Mobility Project at http://mobilitywod.blogspot.com/

The reason Kelly can accomplish so much through his daily mobility workouts is because all the above mentioned goals come back to one foundational principle. That principle is that our bodies were designed to move in a particular way. We can expand that principle and apply it to functional movements (the exercises we do in CrossFit). The body is designed to perform functional movements in a particular way. Hence the notion that there is correct technique and incorrect technique. If you cannot perform functional movements correctly then there is something standing in the way of you getting a better time on your workout, improving your technique, or experiencing less pain in your daily life. An example could be that you have a very hard time getting into the ideal position at the bottom of your deadlift. The structures that stand in your way may be any one of the many muscles, tendons, ligaments, or fascial planes on the back of your body. As a result you have to slow down on your deadlift workouts, you cannot lift as much weight as the person next to you, or even worse you experience general back discomfort or pain on most days of your life. By doing the necessary mobility drills you can improve your deadlift positioning, create some slack on the back of your body to allow for better technique, and in the process possibly alleviate your back pain once and for all.

So what does a session of mobility look like? Well it often times involves some uncomfortable stuff. You are going to have to put your body into the positions that are challenging and then spend a minimum of 2 minutes there to actually improve the quality of the tissues that are impeding good positioning. I love Kelly’s daily blog because it constantly moves around the body and shows you different position that are often times restricted in CrossFit movements. The guiding principle is always the movement. This is different than focusing on body parts. Kelly will not tell you to stretch your piriformis (small muscle under your butt cheek), but rather he will put you in a position that mobilizes the entire back of your hip and it will be a position that has direct relevance to CrossFit.

There is not one or two single mobility drills that I think are best for everyone. The reason behind this is that we all have different lives, different movement patterns, and have unique bodies. At this stage of our lives we have all acquired different limitations. This could be due to injuries we have sustained over the years, the demands of our job (sitting all day), or some of our long time physical activities (runner for years). Because we are all unique we each have our own individual mobility needs. Experimenting with several of Kelly Starrett’s mobility WOD’s will help you uncover very quickly some of the areas of your body that are in the worst shape of all. So you get to be an investigator for a couple days. Happy hunting.

Start way back at week number 1 of the mobility WOD project. Go to the first week of posts on Kelly’s website. Once you find 1 or 2 of the mobility drills that really seem to target your problems sites (you know this when you find a couple that really HURT), my advice is to start performing these daily for the next week. Choose the ones that are particularly challenging for you and cause you the most discomfort. Check in after a week and if you don’t feel or see a change then bag it or come and ask me if you are doing it right. But with a little dedication you can see phenomenal improvements.

Post your questions to comments. Remember that if a mobility WOD requires a piece of equipment like a band or lacrosse ball, we have them in the gym to use while you are there or to purchase and take home with you.

Happy Mobilizing!