Starting CrossFit? Stability and Mobility are your Friend
So you’re looking to start CrossFit? If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you couldn’t have made a wiser decision. Crossfit or the sport of fitness as it is widely referred to today has gained immense traction in gyms and health clubs worldwide as an efficient and dynamic method of exercising and training the body. In fact, so much so that even top level athletes across various sports incorporate elements from CrossFit to increase their speed, strength, and power.
One of the biggest appeals of CrossFit is that it is for everyone and anyone regardless of their age or sex can participate and benefit from it. However, owing to the high impact nature of certain CrossFit exercises and movements, as a beginner, it is best to take things slow and work on increasing mobility and stability before attempting to bite off more than you can chew.
Mobility, Stability, and Flexibility
Mobility exercises help to increase the range of motion in a joint, whereas stability drills work to strengthen certain joints.
Mobility is defined as the ability to produce a desired movement, while;
Stability on the other is defined as the ability to resist an undesired movement.
Often, mobility gets confused with flexibility. Although the two are closely related, they aren’t the same thing. Flexibility may be an important component of mobility, but being flexible alone is not sufficient for performing certain key functional movements that are central to several CrossFit exercises and movements.
Joints in the body are classified largely as needing either more mobility or stability. For example. The shoulder joint is one of the most mobile joints in the body. Leaving aside flexion and extension, they can rotate both internally and externally, as well as abduct and adduct. The elbows and knees on another hand, are limited mostly flexion and extension movements.
One of the most prominent causes of injuries during the performance of certain functional movements arises when a person tries to compensate for their lack of mobility in a particular joint with other joints that largely lend only stability, not mobility.
Joints that need more mobility: Ankle, hip, thoracic spine and the shoulder.
Joints that need more stability: Foot, knee, lumbar spine, scapula, and the elbow.
However, in considering the above information regarding the so-called “job” that each joint is assigned, it is important to remember that mobility and stability often go hand-in-hand and that they both need to be worked at. For instance, just because the hip provides mobility, doesn’t rule out the fact that it might need some stability to reinforce it.
The Front Squat
The reason for taking the front squat as an example is because of the major role it plays as a foundational platform for a large majority of CrossFit movements and lifts.
The front squat is the basis for major power lifting movements such as the power clean and the clean and Jerk as well as for the barbell thruster which has become a key CrossFit movement at the Crossfit Games.
Here, we will be looking at a few key mobility and stability exercises for improving your front squat and strengthening the areas that are most prone to poor mobility and stability.
1. Thoracic Spine Mobility and Extension
Thoracic spine mobility regarding extension is crucial to establishing the proper front squat form and maximizing your lower body’s ability to produce force. Good mobility in the thoracic spine allows you to keep the bar of over the midline throughout the movement and decreases the work that your upper back and neck need to do to during the lift, thus also preventing any injuries or strains in that region.
One of the most effective mobilization exercises involves getting on fours on the floor. Next, while keeping one hand on the ground, you take the other and place on the back of your neck and rotate your spine bring your elbow vertically above you and then down and inwards next to your stomach.
Watch the video here.
2. Shoulder and Elbow Mobility
Apart from good thoracic mobility, the front squat demands good shoulder, elbow and wrist mobility to keep the elbows high, chin in, the bar against the throat and your spine upright.
So, again first get on all fours.
Keep your hands on the mat with your fingers spread and pointing forward and with your thumbs close to touching. Next, rotate your shoulders outward and inwards.
- Now with your finger pointing in opposite directions and your palms touching, rotate your from your shoulders in the same manner.
- Finger pointing backward, rock from left to right gently.
- Perform shoulder dislocations using a lightweight stick.
- Refer to this video for more instructions.
Good luck with your Crossfit guys and remember to include mobility and stability drills for all major functional movements on your rest days and off days so you can lift better without pain and injury.
About the Author:
Andrew is the founder and CEO at Aim Workout. As a passionate fitness professional and triathlete, there is no adventure he won’t embark on. From mountain biking, deep sea diving, rock climbing and cycling to boxing and mixed martial arts, Andrew has a penchant for the wild and extreme.