It amazes me how my CrossFit journey continues to unfold. When I first began, my out of shape body could barely tolerate 2-3 times a week, since both my muscles and my mindset needed significant recovery time. At about the 5 month mark, my desire to push myself physically and mentally was insatiable, so I began WODing 5-6 days a week, literally having to force myself to take 1-2 rest days each week.
I feel like a pendulum that has swung from one extreme to another. But almost 2 years into CrossFit, this swinging pendulum is finding a gentle balance somewhere in the middle. Over the past few months I’ve started complimenting my CrossFit workouts with mountain biking in the state park and stand up paddle boarding.
But it’s becoming clear to me that there is a missing piece to my fitness puzzle – and that’s MOBILITY!
It’s a word used in the CrossFit community as frequently as clean & jerk, amrap (as many reps as possible) and WOD (workout of the day). So you’d think by now I’d be well versed in both what it means and how to do it. Sadly, up until now, I simply assumed it was a CrossFit term for stretching.
Although Cave Mama Amy tends to be the “knowledge seeker” in this duo – I’m currently on a quest to find out as much as I can about mobility, because I’m discovering that mobility is what will give me longevity – both in CrossFit and in the aging process.
What is mobility?
By definition and in its simplest form – Mobility is the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. Whether in CrossFit or in life, who wouldn’t want that!
Now – with a little more depth to the explanation….
Mobility is a broad concept that comprises join range of motion (ROM), muscular tension, soft tissue and joint capsule restrictions, adhesions, tendon resilience, neuromuscular coordination, proprioception, the biomechanics or positioning, and knowledge of the proper form for a movement. It includes stabilization, too, created by muscular balance and strength – particularly core strength to protect the spine – and ligament tautness.
What’s the difference between stretching and mobility?
According to Dr. Kelly Starrett (who from my short bout of research, appears to be the guru of mobility), stretching only focuses on lengthening short and tight muscles. Mobilization, on the other hand, is a movement-based integrated full-body approach that addresses all the elements that limit movement and performance including short and tight muscles, soft tissue restriction, joint capsule restriction, motor control problems, joint range of motion dysfunction, and neural dynamic issues.
In layman’s terms, mobilization is a tool to globally address movement and performance problems.
Why is mobility important?
Mobility exercises help us move our limbs through their full range of motion, eliminating restrictions and improving our ability to attain optimal positioning during movements.
In the box, increased mobility means greater ability to achieve proper form in the set-up and to sustain better form during a movement which translates into greater power output and more productive WODs.
Outside of the box, increased mobility means you can bend down to pick up the 32 pack of bottled water from the grocery shelf, carry it to your shopping cart and with ease, place it on the bottom rack. It means you can stand on your tip toes, reach both arms above your head and with confidence remove the large pottery bowl from the top shelf of your cabinet. It means you can chase down that ten dollar bill that the wind abruptly ripped from your hand as you were trying to tip the delivery man.
I have so many more questions!
- What mobility exercises should I do?
- When should I do mobility exercises?
- How long each day should spend doing mobility exercises?
- How do I know if the mobility exercises are working?
But my brain can only accept and process a limited amount of new information at one time. Besides – this is intended to be a blog….not a book! So consider this blog post Mobility – Part I.
Here are a few resources I discovered on my knowledge seeking journey:
- Mobility Wod is Kelly Starrett’s website which features a new mobility video every day. The video library is extensive and easily searchable.
- The Minimalist Guide to Mobility: Moving Like a Ninja in 5 Minutes or Less is a short blog post then ends with a 4 minute video clip demonstrating 20 different mobility exercises.
- How Kelly Starrett’s Mobility Seminar Ruined Me is a blog post by Danette “Dizzle” Rivera, which shares her perspective after having participated in Kelly’s seminar. It was both humorous and informative.
- Becoming a Supple Leopard is Kelly Starrett’s guide to resolving pain, preventing injury and optimizing athletic performance.
I’m clear that practicing mobility exercises on a daily basis is non-negotiable for my overall longevity. Now – I just have to jump in with both feet and do it.
Help a Cave Mama out! We’d love to hear about YOUR mobility experiences!
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