Mobility March! Part the Fourth

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As a member of the Phylum: Chordata (subphylum: Vertebrata), you have a spine. We spend a lot of time stretching joints that have lots of movement (hips, shoulders), but we often neglect our spines. Joseph Pilates once said: “you are only as young as your spine.” So let’s take a few minutes to do some spinal maintenance.

1) 2 minutes. Warm up with some cat/cow: just like in yoga class, get on your hands and knees. Then flex (rounding your back and looking at your belly button) and extend (arch your back and let your belly sag). When flexing your spine, try to feel a stretch from your tailbone all the way to the back of your skull. When extending your spine, push your chest and belly toward the floor, but also pull your chin back (think about trying to give yourself a double chin) so that you actually get some extension through your upper back and not just hyperextension at your neck.

2) 2 minutes. Flexion: sit in a pike position and lean forward. Try to round your back as much as possible while reaching the top of your head toward the ground between your shins. You should feel an even stretch from the back of your skull all the way down to your tailbone. If you feel it more in the back of your neck, try pushing your belly button backward to round more through your back. If you feel it more in your lower back, try reaching forward more with your forehead.

3) 2 minutes. Extension: holding a light weight (maybe an 8# dumbbell or a large soup can), lean backward over a foam roller/large bolster cushion/low bench with a blanket on top. try to keep the arms straight and reach them backward toward the ground. Whatever object is under your back, try putting it in different places from high up by the top edge of the shoulder blades, down to the bottom edge of the ribs.

4) 2 minutes each side. Rotation: lay down on your back with your arms spread out far to either side. Bend your right knee and cross it over to your left side. Try to keep your right shoulder in contact with the ground. If it helps, hold onto a dumbbell or piece of furniture, or have a friend pin that shoulder to the ground. Grab onto the back of the right knee with the left hand and pull it further across.

Mobility March! Part the Third

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Hamstrings and Adductors (groin)

If you can easily put the palms of your hands on the floor while keeping your legs straight, congratulations, you win at life.  If you can’t, you’re probably okay doing bench press, but there might be a few other movements that we use in CrossFit that are more difficult for you then they should be.  Do you have good shoulder strength, but have trouble with handstands because kicking up into the handstand is hard?  Do burpees take a lot of effort?  Do you have to angle your body way back and fry your lats to get your toes to the bar?  Can you not straighten your legs on an inchworm?  Can you not prevent your lower back from rounding at the bottom of deadlifts and squats?  Do you have trouble with getting good forward reach on the rowing machine?  Do you have a short stride when you run?  If you take a big step on a lunge, do you have trouble getting all the way down?  Do you have a strong squat, but can’t jump very high?  Welp, you might want to get stretchy in the hamstring region.  In addition, tight adductors usually accompany tight hamstrings, and cause all the above issues to be even worse, so we’ll address them here as well.

Time for some homework… (12 minutes)

1 minute each side: old school ham stretch.  Keep your hips square to the bench/chair/ottoman/dining room table.


2 minutes: straddle sit.  Hang onto a heavy piece of furniture, if necessary.


1 minute each side: stay in the straddle and shift your body directly over one leg.


1 minute each side: doorway stretch.  Keep your knee straight.  Just chill for a bit.

If you need more stretchiness, sit past the door with your heel hooked onto the edge of the door frame.



2 minutes: stand on your hands and try to straighten your legs.  If that’s too easy, wrap your arms around your calves and hug them.


2 minutes: butterfly or frog.  For butterfly, sit tall and squeeze your knees to the floor…

… and lean forward over your feet.


or for frog, keep your hips and knees in one flat vertical plane…

… and then slide forward and back.

Mobility March! Part the Second

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Mobility March!

When you think of stretching, what is the first stretch that comes to mind?  Let me guess… Standing with both feet together and bending forward to touch your toes, right?  Classic hamstring stretch.  What about the other direction?  When was the last time you stretched your hip flexors?  We spend so much time bent at 90 degrees at the hip that there is an epidemic of shortened and tight hip flexors.  We keep our hips flexed while sitting down for a meal, driving our cars, sitting at our desk jobs, reclining on the couch watching TV, curled in the fetal position as you sleep.


Try these:

2 min ea side lunge stretch (first minute: hands on front knee, push hips forward; second minute: hands straight up overhead keeping abs engaged, sinking hips straight down)

2 min ea side couch stretch pushing hips forward (put a hand on the ground)

2 min ea side couch stretch pushing back (try to get butt to heel, body straight up and down with the abs engaged)

15 reps seated hip folds (take your thumbs and press hard into your hip flexors, hinge forward with your body as far as you can, hold for two seconds and come back up)

Mobility March! Part the First

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It’s Mobility Maaaaaaaaarch!  (this is for you, Kendall)

Each week this month, we will give you some mobility work to do.  Do it.  Then see how much better a human being you have become.

Ankles: they are important; stretch them.  Proper ankle flexion (dorsiflexion) allows you to squat, run, jump, and poop in the woods with good form, improving performance and preventing injury.  Proper pointing (plantarflexion) gives you more spring to your running and jumping, huge gains in kick propulsion for swimming, and prevents Bailey from deducting many tenths of points from your gymnastic score.

(for more information on proper positioning for pooping: SquattyPotty )

Your mobility homework:

2 x 2min ea side flexed ankle stretch (try a little external rotation as well)

2 x 2min ea side pointed ankle stretch




And externally rotate…


If you need a little more stretch, grab a box (or a chair)


Or elevate the ball of the foot and keep the heel on the box (or chair)







If your ankles don’t point well, you can just kneel.  Keep your feet straight so your heels are not turned out.


If you need more stretch, lean back and lift your knees off the ground


Or just pick up one knee at a time