HOW MOVEMENT AFFECTS PERFORMANCE
In exercise and sports science, achieving triple extension has been the goal of many common athletic movements. Triple extension is a position in which the ankle, knee, and hip are extended.
In CrossFit programming, there is revolution in the way coaches and trainers look at movement. Most CrossFit exercises and workouts emphasize what I call global quadruple extension. This means the athlete extends the foot/ankle, knee, hip, and the thoracic spine. The inability to get to this position results in poor performance and pain. The following is a list of joints that I find are routinely restricted and prevent athletes from moving efficiently into this globally extended position. Keep in mind that dysfunction at one joint leads to dysfunction throughout the entire body.
COMMON JOINT RESTRICTIONS AND THE NEGATIVE IMPACTS THEY CAN PRODUCE
1. BIG TOE
‘A foot that flattens is an ankle that is out of control.’
Lack of extension in the big toe prevents our foot from creating an arch when our heel hits the ground. This is referred to as the windlass mechanism.
As the heel strikes the ground during gait, our foot rolls into pronation (collapse of the arch). The contact of our toe with the ground slows pronation and pulls on the plantar fascia to form the arch of the foot. The inability to slow pronation leads the athlete to overpronation, or pushing off almost completely from the big and second toes. This forces compensation from other joints to slow the knee as weight is transferred.
WHAT IMPACT WILL THIS HAVE ON PERFORMANCE?
Many CrossFit workouts have exercises that involve transferring weight from one leg to the other (i.e. running, lunging, farmer’s walks, etc.) These exercises are examples of locomotive movements for which the goal is going from point A to B. To be efficient, an athlete should perform this movement in a straight line.
Think of traveling: You want to take the shortest direction to get to your destination. Taking the scenic route usually costs more in gas and time. Running is no different.
‘If our joints aren’t aligned, we waste energy.’
An athlete who overpronates pulls their knee closer to the their midline. This means they must constantly compensate with other muscles to prevent their knee from collapsing inward. The end result is likely pain and definitely a waste of calories and increased fatigue from using muscles improperly.
Types of pain an athlete will feel: A person who overpronates will often complain of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and hip bursitis.