Written by Hannah Dykstra
A key element of the CrossFit definition is “functional fitness,’’ but what does the word “functional” pertain to? A body that moves strong though end ranges of motion is a truly functional mobile body. Mobility is often misconstrued as grabbing a foam roller or death smashing your glutes with a lacrosse ball, but it is so much more than that.
The term mobility is confused with the term flexibility, when in reality greater flexibility is simply a beneficial component of mobility. Mobility refers to the ability of a joint to pass through an end range of motion under whole body tension. The more tension you create in the body, the more connection you develop from your brain to stimulate strength within the joint position.
I personally believe in the power of the “smash and floss,’’ but why do you have to torture yourself so much on something so simple as a lacrosse ball? The good news is you don’t have to! If you develop strength through the end range of motion, your brain will recognize this strength and the musculature around that specific joint will adjust and “relax.”
So what is tension and why do I have to be “intentional?”
Tension through the body consists of stacked joints, braced core, rib cage down and pelvis neutral. Once you find this position, you must be able to breathe. If you cannot breathe, you cannot sustain that position and if you cannot sustain that position, then you do not own that position. If you don’t own that position, chances are you are not moving properly, leading next to possible injury.
Most people find this hard to achieve and unfortunately we live in a culture where we skip the hard stuff to save time, we all fall victim to that. This is where the emphasis on intentional mobility comes in. To be intentional is to be deliberate and have a purpose. Always have a purpose, especially when it comes to the health of your joints! After all, they are the only reason you can crush WODs and pick up your kids.
What does intentional mobility look like?
1. ALONE TIME – Find a place where you can be alone with your joints and focus all your energy into those joints.
2. QUIET TIME – Cut out all external noise, especially the to do list that is running through your brain!
3. SLOW DOWN – Move steady and move slow, the slower you go through these positions the more time you give your brain to recognize the safety factor and develop strength. Not only
will you move better, but chances are you will discover a fault in your own movement on
4. BREATHE – Your breath is hands down the most important factor of movement and health.
We literally need oxygen – if you cannot provide oxygen through safe movement, you are not
5. FOCUS ON OTHER JOINTS – Your body is one entity made up by structures that all move in
unison. Focus on how a joint affects the rest of your body, for example, if you are mobilizing
your left hip, put some intention into what your opposite shoulder is doing.
6. LEARN – Our bodies are so much smarter than we give them credit for, use this opportunity
to learn what your body is trying to teach you.
I have said it before and I will always stand by this statement, become a student of your own body. You will be both humbled and healthy.