When it comes to CrossFit, or working out in general, there is one thing we all need and most of us lack- mobility. In a perfect world we would ask members to get to OCF with enough time to work on the problems areas, however we understand that not everyone can do that. As a coach I often times see people running into class five minutes early and just stand there because they have no idea on what stretches they should be doing. The problem areas are all different for everyone, however there are a few things we can all work on and benefit from. I have put together the top five stretches everyone should be doing, especially those of us who have just about seven minutes before class.
: When we think about mobility we often think about our shoulders, t-spine or hips, but what most people ignore is one of the most important joints - the ankle. The base of any movement that involves your feet having contact with the ground.
: Start by taking your shoes off and placing your toes three to four inches away from the wall, then drive your knee into the wall. If that’s comfortable move the toes back until you feel that stretch on that ankle, drive your knee to the outside and inside of your toe as well. Repeat on the other leg.
: 60 seconds per ankle
Having flexible hamstrings can help prevent injuries as well as pain in other areas of the body, like your lower back. Having tight hamstrings reduces the mobility of the pelvis, creating strain and pressure on your lower back. Having flexible hamstrings can also help improve your physical performance over-all.
Start by laying down with your hip next to a pole or a door way (anything that you can eventually rest your foot on with your leg extended) Keeping the other foot on the ground with the toe pointing up, pull your other leg so that it can rest against the pole. If its uncomfortable, slide your hips back 2-3 inches then try again. Repeat with the other leg.
60 seconds per leg
T-Spine “Upper back”
T-spine, otherwise known as the thoracic spine, can be the cause of a lot of pain due to a lack of mobility. One of the benefits of mobilizing the t-spine is that It will free the lumbar spine, providing stability to the core and preventing lower back pain. Working on your t-spine will also lead to healthier shoulders and pain-free overhead movements.
Start by laying with your arms crossed on a roller with the roller just under the shoulder blades on your back, making sure your hips are in contact with the ground. Let your upper back curve to the form of the roller by relaxing and “melting over it”. Be sure to move up and down the upper back.
45 seconds of rolling
We as humans spend most of our day sitting, whether at work or in a car. Sitting contributes to tight muscles around the hip area. Doing stretches, like the pigeon stretch, can help release the tension that is built up from sitting. Hip mobility can lead to improved range of motion with every movement, and over-all athletic performance.
Starting from a table top position, bring out one of your legs parallel to your hips. Think of forming an “L” with your front leg. This should create a 90-degree angle between your shin and your thigh. Reach back with your back leg as straight as possible. Keep your chest up, tall, and proud. Repeat with the other side.
45 seconds per leg
Like stated previously, most people spend most of their day sitting down with a hunched over back. This can cause tightness of the pectorals, which can lead to internal rotation of the shoulders (hunched over look). This can cause a lot of pain and poor range of motion when doing anything overhead.
Lay chest down on the ground with your arms in a “ T ” position. Rotate onto one of your shoulders so that it’s pushing into the ground with that same arm extended outward. Continue to roll over that side and use your other hand to press up as if you were doing a push up, in order to feel the stretch better.
30 seconds per side
In just about seven minutes, we can get good stretches that will help our over all performance as well as prevent injuries. These are not the only ones that can be done to help with mobility issues, but I believe these are the ones that give you the most bang your buck. I am by no means encouraging members to get here five minutes before class but on days when we get caught by that train or stuck in traffic on the way to the gym, these stretches can be done quickly and efficiently a few minutes before class.
- Coach Luis