Using Mobility to Avoid Injury and Increase your Performances

At the very core of Crossfit is the principle that movement is an essential component of a healthy, functional and successful human life.

 ‘Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.’ Plato

Crossfit promotes a deep understanding of how our bodies move, and how that is linked with strength, skill, performance, nutrition and the lifestyles we choose to lead. The sport teaches the connections between these elements of fitness and health, and enforces athletic integrity as a way of life. Great mobility is one aspect that enables us to reach our full potential.

INJURY FREE IN THE LONG RUN

Intelligent and consistent Mobility work helps to keep you injury free in the long run. Taking an active interest in the way that your body moves and functions – during everyday life and during specific exercises such as the Snatch for example – will allow you to continually improve and make you a healthier and more effective Athlete.

BODIES THAT WANT TO MOVE

Our bodies are built to move. It is only very recently in the long history of human evolution that the concept of a sedentary lifestyle has become commonplace.

rich froning crossfit athlete mobility stair sprints
Rich Froning works on stair sprints

Daniel Lieberman, the head of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, believes that we are actually perfectly adapted as athletes and long distance runners, and it is due to the hunting habits of our ancestors that we look, move and think the way that we do today. The man also runs marathons barefoot because he believes the human feet to be superior machines (evolved over hundreds of thousands of years) to shoes formed from rubber and plastic. If you are interested in Paleo in any capacity, look him up, he is an unofficial Godfather of sorts.

MAKE TIME FOR MOBILITY

The pertinence of great posture and mobility work should never be underrated, and every Crossfitter should specifically set aside time to work on these areas. This doesn’t mean five minutes of half baked stretching at the end of a session. It equates to a serious analysis of your own movements and techniques, and specialised focus on how they can be enhanced.

HOW MOBILITY WILL INCREASE YOUR CROSSFIT PERFORMANCES

‘Improving your ability to move well will increase the efficiency with which you perform in Crossfit.’

From a long, barbarous set of Wall Balls to your next (or first) Ring Muscle-Up, every exercise involves the ability to move confidently and competently. Crossfit is a competitive sport, and Crossfitters like to see results. We want to observe the blood, sweat and tears that we put into our training manifested as cold hard PR results on the whiteboards of our Box walls.

phil hesketh crossfit athlete mobility work
Phil Hesketh celebrates after another successful performance

The effects of mobility on performance are well documented, but in essence it comes down to this: If you move well, you will put yourself in a great position to perform the various exercises in Crossfit with grace and efficiency.

Practical examples of How Mobility increases performance

  • Makes it easier to perfect techniques, and consequently make these exercises more effective
  • Improves skill acquisition times for new movements
  • Can help an athlete break away from unconsciously acquired bad habits
  • Good hip mobility will Increase your ability to operate when ‘in the hole’ during Olympic Lifts and Squat variations
  • Shoulder mobility will improve your Snatch, Handstand Walks / Push Ups and overhead movements such as Thrusters
  • General Mobility work will additionally develop gymnastic work, giving you more control and poise over each various exercise.
  • Mobility keeps you injury free in the long run

HOW DOES MOBILITY WORK PREVENT INJURY?

Injuries tend to be viewed in hindsight, as irritating events that must be fixed, rather than inevitabilities that could have been avoided in the first place. By going back to the basics of movement, taking the time to work specially on the way that your body moves and functions, you will help to prevent against injury in the long run.

rich froning barbell mobility work
Rich Froning works on barbell movement

Organise your back and set up well before you even begin to wrap your fingers around the barbell, the handle of a kettlebell, or the Pull-Up bar. The following points are especially important to keep in mind when lifting:

  • Squeeze your Glutes to help eliminate an arched or overextended back
  • Prior to lifting, screw your feet into the floor rather than splaying your toes out
  • Always focus on pushing your knees outwards rather than letting them fold inwards.
  • Shoulders back and down as a general rule to improve posture
  • Always keep your body and posture as tight as possible with big lifts

For me, physical pain is one of the hardest human feelings to empathise with, because we always forget how it hurts to be injured or sick ourselves as soon as we recover from it. Think back to the last time you were unable to train due to injury or sickness, I bet it is difficult to recall exactly how you felt. Perhaps Disappointed? Or irritated? – At both yourself and the pain?


Injuries can happen. That’s life. There is an overly simplified concept of social Darwinism that claims injuries are the result of weakness, in the spirit of ‘survival of the fittest’ and all that. But this doesn’t really stand up to critical analysis when you look at some of the top Crossfit athletes that have also suffered unfortunate injuries such as:

  • Annie Thorisdottir (out for months because of a back injury)
  • Josh Bridges (taken out of the game for reconstructive knee surgery)
  • Julie Foucher (suffered a severe injury to her Achilles tendon).

Being dedicated about your Mobility work and putting in the time to develop your movements will yield positive results. It will help to shield you from unnecessary injuries and enable you to reach your full potential as an Athlete.

MOBILITY: THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

Another huge benefit of taking time to develop your mobility is that it will have a highly positive impact on your everyday life, when you are away from Crossfit. Increased mobility and time spent concentrating on movements that are intrinsic to Crossfit exercises will in turn cause you to think more about your general movements as well. Posture, health and movement are essential for your ENTIRE life. Just ask 100 year Old Crossfitter Kameichi Yawata, who still works on his hip flexors so that he can squat, but also because it helps him keep his walking brisk and pain free for example.

Mobility, along with strength, technique, mentality and nutrition, is a vital element of operating as a functional, talented Crossfit athlete. The sport weaves these components together, empowering and promoting a lifestyle of integrity, health and physical excellence. A philosophy that is shared by Rehband.


rich froning crossfit athlete mobility stair sprints © Rehband

phil hesketh crossfit athlete mobility work © Rehband Instagram

rich froning barbell mobility work © Rehband

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About The Author

Editor-In-Chief at BOXROX. I come from a background of rugby and weightlifting. Growing up in the English Lake District, I spent a great deal of time swimming in its stunning lakes and rivers. In 2015 my brothers and I became the first people to swim the 145km length of the River Eden, from source to mouth, in 9 days. We also swam the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the third largest in the world, and Crossfit is a huge part of my training for these events.

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