We all come into the gym with the expectation of leaving knowing that we have somehow improved ourselves. However, as we walk through the doors and go back into real life after destroying our bodies through a brutal workout, we set ourselves up for failure. What could we be doing wrong? Most people don’t work out nearly as intense as this! Look, I have bloody hands! That means I worked really hard and am now super healthy.
Wrong. We all too often forget/ignore mobilizing. This is something that we need to correct.
Most athletes come in for class, and maybe do a slight warm up on their own. Then, the class gets going and we start our group warm up. The goal of the warm up is to get the athlete’s body temperature raised, get the blood circulating, and prep the central nervous system for the upcoming activities; this is usually done with some drills or dynamic stretching. You want to do dynamic stretches prior to lifting in order to help get the blood flowing. It is often a bad idea to perform static stretches to cold muscles. Sometimes there is some short mobility included in the warm up, but then we go into the strength/power for 15 minutes and then right into the metabolic conditioning portion. Unfortunately, there is rarely enough time in the class for some good static stretching, and mobility work.
I understand that there are times when you have to rush out of class, whether it is to pick up the kids at school, work, or a doctor’s appointment. But, you should at least have a plan to do some mobility work later on in the day. How often does that get ignored? Believe me, I’ve heard the “I’ll stretch at home” more times than I can count. I’ve even said it myself. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that we never really stretch. Plus, by the time you get home, you have already cooled down so much and have been sitting in your car in traffic for so long that you’ve lost that time window in order to help improve your recovery.
So what can you do to correct this? Add in a day of mobility work, at a minimum.
Preferably, do static stretches right after your workouts. And, do GOOD stretches. The banded hamstring stretch, couch stretch, and downward dog are probably some of my favorites to perform. While it is good to utilize the foam roller, make sure you aren’t just using it as a cushion to sit on and are actively doing some focused compression work with it. That’s not really accomplishing much. If you don’t spend a good amount of time, at least 10 minutes, you are denying yourself a lot of benefits. This will help decrease soreness and fatigue, and you will also be warm enough to perform a deeper stretch with better range of motion. Not only that, but it will also allow your muscles to grow stronger. Not only will you feel better, but you will in fact BE better.
There is only 1 hour out of the day that you spend at CFWH. Some work a bit extra, but you can only work for so long until you begin to do your body more harm than good. So what about the other 23 hours? That is the time that is VITAL to your health and performance. Some experts say that you should spend 2x the amount that you spent exercising stretching in order to have the best recovery and performance. This can be difficult to accomplish, especially since most of us don’t live in a gym. So, what can you do to help solve this?
Add in a day of mobility work. There are all kinds of resources out there for you to check out and utilize for your mobility. Luckily, one of them happens to be here at CrossFit West Houston. There will be a yoga class Wednesdays and Saturdays to help you learn how to get your vinyasa flowing. You can’t outlift a bad diet, and you can’t outlift your mobility. Notice I said recovery, not rest (See one of my favorite articles about this from Whole9). Some people think that doing nothing will help their muscles repair. Instead, they should perform some form of mobility work.
If your programming doesn’t have some form of mobility work, you’re wrong. Sooner or later, you are going to plateau or become injured. Fix yourself, and stretch yourself before you wreck yourself.