Coach's Corner: Mobility

Lats and the Serratus Anterior

You’re hitting your CrossFit WODs almost every day but you’re not making the progress you want. You put in more and more effort, but you’re not hitting your goals. What’s going on? There’s a very good chance that mobility restrictions are the biggest factor keeping you from your goals. And fixing those restrictions will unblock your power and keep you from getting hurt. Most people can’t use their joints’ full range of motion, and don’t have very good joint stability. But if you want to be great in a high-performance sport like CrossFit, you need to fix your mobility restrictions. When you do you’ll see serious improvements in your training, including better PRs, easier reps, and fuller recovery.

This months' mobility we are focusing on the Lats and the serratus anterior. These muscles get tight any time your arms stay relaxed at your sides and are not stretched up overhead.  This means everyday they are getting gradually tighter and tighter. These muscles are needed for maintaining a proper front rack position, when elbows begin to drop we end up having a poor front rack position this means we will increase our chances of hurting ourselves. The stretch we are going to focus on now is going to help stretch both muscles simultaneously.  


The first thing we want to do is get a band and an upright to connect the band to.  From here we will stick our arm in all until the band is above our elbow. From this position we reach for the small of our back and use our other hand to connect hands behind our back.  After the hand connection has been made we step away from the upright and begin to rotate our connected elbow away from the rig.  This will create tension in the band and begin the stretch of the anterior deltoid, lats, and serratus anterior.  Keep up with this stretch a few times a month and should see overall improvement in the front rack position as well as less wrist pain when holding that position.  Keep up the good work Bears!!

Mobility: The Pigeon Stretch

Hey Bears! The new year is coming so what better way to kick off the new year by taking care of your body through stretching and mobility!  This month we have a slight twist on everyone’s favorite, a variation on pigeon stretch, and probably my favorite one.  This stretch allows the deepest stretch without any limitations or ways of cheating the overall position.  It’s very easy and all you need is a stationary object to complete the stretch.  


-First you will find a spot next to an upright on the rig. 

From here you will want to lay on you back with the upright close to your hip.  Whichever hip is furthest from the upright will be the hip we are stretching.  -

-We will want to fold at the hip and bend the knee, placing our outside foot on the upright in a supine position.  


-Once the foot is in place begin to slide down against the stretch, this will deepen the stretch.  


Go until you feel comfortable and try to keep the small of you back as flat as possible on the floor.  This will help to maintain the deepest stretch possible, if you are looking to change the stretch into other muscle groups closer to the hip- all you have to do is push down on the knee making your leg as perpendicular to your torso as possible, this will help get different muscles.  Keep up the good work and head into the new year learning from the mistakes you made this past year. Growth is a part of life and good news is that we can all continue to grow and become the best versions of ourselves.  Happy New Year Bears!

Mid and Lower Lumbar Mobility

Hey bears! For mobility this month, we want to focus on ways to open up the mid, and lower back. The stretch we are using helps with rotation in the thoracic as well as the lumbar region. This is where most of the pain happens after an extensive deadlift, clean, or snatch workout. By doing this stretch we are hoping to alleviate some of the pressure put on our lower back, as well as maintaining rotation. This stretch can be done alone or with a partner to help give you a slightly deeper stretch.  

*To start you will be laying on your back, pull the desired knee to the chest and bring it across the body at a 90-degree angle.  The higher the knee the lower the stretch will occur in your back.  From this position you will bring the palms of your hands together, trace your bottom arm with your top arm, go across the chest and bring the back of the hand to the floor.  


You will then follow the same pathway to the back to the starting position.  With the use of the partner they will make sure your legs hold in place by pinning your knee to the floor and gently trying to flatten the shoulder when full rotation has occurred.  

This is a great stretch pre- or post-workout but it will not completely alleviate any pain in your lower back.  This is more of a maintenance stretch to prevent future back pain.  Keep up the good work, and take care of your body! 

September Mobiliy: Reducing Elbow Pain

This month’s mobility we will focus on a joint that seems to causing members some issue lately.  I am talking the about the elbow.  Members have been coming up to me the past month asking what they can do to alleviate elbow pain. Tennis elbow is common within the CrossFit community, this occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm.  We need to address the maintenance of this joint to prevent these types of injuries from occurring. All you will need is a foam roller, and an elevated surface to lay the roller on.  

For this you will place the foam roller on the elevated surface and sit facing it.  We will want to work on the distal part of the humerus this is where your tricep ends above your elbow.  This is the point that will be resting on the foam roller.  You will want to work side to side, as well as the extension and flexion of each elbow.  When you are in the extended position try to get pronation and supination. This will help with inflammation that is occurring in that area which will hopefully prevent future injuries.   


If the tennis or golfer elbow is still causing issues rest might be the only way to recover.  I hope that we don’t get to that point though.  Always try to get mobility in, class is only one hour long, and we might not have time to address mobility after each class.  That does not mean it is not important to do, if you want to be a better athlete you have to take care of yourself outside the gym or on your own after a workout.  Good luck bears if you have any questions feel free to ask anytime!

Front Rack Position

This week’s mobility focuses on the front rack position.  It does so by addressing a major problem in the chain which is the lats.  When your lats are tight it becomes very hard to maintain the proper front rack position.  With this stretch you will help your lats relax which will make it much easier to keep your elbows high and a full grip on the bar.  

For this mobility all you need is a band and a pull-up bar to place the band on, you will have your back to the rig, and start with the band just above the point of your elbow.  The elbow will go overhead or to 12 o’clock.  You will want to focus on your core being tight and the palm of the hand facing the ceiling.  Hold this position to let the shoulders open up by stretching the lat. If you need any help come, ask a coach this is one of the best lat stretches you can do!



DomWOD: Rope Climb Position and Movement

For this knowledge bomb, we are working on a skill that doesn’t get practiced very often, but is still an important movement during CrossFit regionals and the CrossFit Games.  Rope climbs are a complicated movement that require a lot of strength, core stability, and a high cardio capacity.  There are few ways to climb the ropes and we are going to discuss the most popular methods. 

The first method is the S-wrap; it is slower of the two but it has better foot security.  This is usually the method taught for those just starting on the rope. In this method the climber would wrap their leg around the rope a full 360 degrees so that the rope is cork screwed around the climber’s lower leg and draped over the shoelaces of the base leg.  The climber would then step the free foot on top of the base foot clamping the rope between the feet. To ascend you raise your legs up pushing your heels away from the body and stand to re-wrap in the proper posture. Unfortunately, with this type of rope climb has the worst decent because of the rope security when descending it creates a ton of friction on the inside of the thigh.  


The second method is the J-wrap; it is the faster of the two methods but with the speed you sacrifice the foot security.  This is definitely created for those that have more experience with CrossFit.  This method utilizes the bend in the rope to create a J shape and somewhat of a stirrup that the foot rests on while the other foot provides a side clamp to hold the rope in place. The only downside to this method is that the grip strength goes pretty quickly due to lack of contact with the rope and the leverage you use.  To ascend the rope, you do a knees-to-elbow then lock the feet back into place, from there you stand bringing your hands up with it. 



This is a brief summary of how to do two complicated movements the best way to learn is through practice, ask a coach on what method would be best for you and start climbing!!


DomWod: Ring Dips

For this month we want to focus on a movement that is a fairly common gymnastics movement, the ring dip.  The full range of motion starts with arms fully extended and ends when the shoulders dips below the top of the elbow, the elbow needs to be at least a 90-degree angle.  The instability of the rings makes this much more challenging than a standard dip on a fixed object.  This means all stabilizers in shoulders and core must be strong in order maintain good posture and technique.  One important side note is to make sure you are not treating the ring dip as a crunch, this means your hips need to be moving with the arms to ensure you are getting the strength benefit the movement provides.  

Time to move on to the key points of the movement, in 2017 there was a total of 36 pec tears during the regional event or days leading up to the workout submission date.  We want to make sure we do this movement properly to ensure shoulder and chest safety so here are a few tips to get you going in the right direction. 

  • Ring height is set so your feet do not make contact with the floor when you are at the bottom of the dip. 
  • Make sure you always start in the extended position, with shoulders externally rotated (palms forward) this will start you off in the strongest and safest position.  
  • Focus on your posture! You aren’t a turtle so try to separate your neck from your shoulders allowing a big chest, as well as a solid hollow body position.  
  • As you begin your descent, keep the core tight and the positions stated above in place.  Your shoulders will begin to fall forward which is inevitable to KEEP THE CORE TIGHT!
  • The movement ends when your shoulder breaks parallel which should be right when your shoulders descend below your elbows.  Keep the hollow body position!                              
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  • As you begin your press focus on leading with your head up to keep your spine and posture elongated, with your core still tight in the hollow body position.  You should be externally rotating the arms as you make your way up to help ensure your finishing position is the same as your starting position.


Keeping your shoulders and chest healthy is everything in this movement, posture means everything! With that being said, the ring dip is a very hard movement and progression is the safest way to approach them if you are not able to do them without assistance! Ask any of the coaches for the best approach to develop strength as well as the technique! Good luck bears!!

DomWOD: Rowing

With the open over, we now go back to the basics.  This knowledge bomb we ear going to focus on rowing.  Rowing is one of our most fundamental movements and used multiple times a week, either during the warm-up, WOD, or cool down.  When done correctly you can shave off valuable seconds from your workout time.  

As a coach, this is the movement I see done incorrectly the most, not because of improper technique but because when athletes get on the rower they become very lazy and forget that rigidity is key in CrossFit.  In this article I will cover main points of rowing and hope they are followed in the future.  

First tip, is foot placement, or to be more exact, where to place the strap across your foot. The strap should be placed across the ball of your foot, if you have trouble figuring out where that is at you can place the strap near your toes where your shoelaces end. 

Second tip and the most frustrating thing to see as a coach is when people immediately set the damper setting to the wrong number (10).  The dial on the right of the fan is called the damper, the damper allows airflow into the flywheel and adjusts your resistance.  The hardest concept for CrossFitters to understand is just because it’s the most challenging DOES NOT make it correct.  Each Concept 2 rower comes with a setting that I am sure has never been used which is the drag factor.  The drag factor is something that is extremely beneficial.  The more drag you create in rowing the worse off you are in efficiency.  All that needs to be done is you select the drag factor under the “more options” tab row for 10-15 seconds and view your drag.  Any more than 130 on the display means you are ruining your own workout by losing efficiency.  You should then lower the damper until you fall into the 100-120 drag range.  This is the most efficient pace to row at, being that it allows you to cover a lot of distance as well as maintain a steady pace.  

Third tip is focusing on what your body should be doing when you pull.  Your back should remain straight in an upright position when grabbing the handle.  In a bent knee position, you want to focus on keeping the shoulders slightly in front of the hips with a tight core and back.  As legs extend you maintain this position until you have fully extended your legs, from here you will focus on a slight lean back about 5-10 degrees.  Leaning back any further, again, will greatly affect your efficiency.  Always remember that rowing should be done in a straight line, this means does not drop your hands at any given time.  The chain should always be in a straight line going in and out of the erg.  


Fourth tip is remembering to relax your grip, keeping a death grip on the rower will again slow down your overall movement, and also burn out your grip for the longer workouts.  The fatigue isn’t worth it, keep a loose grip and allow the movement to be fluid.



Keep these four simple tips in mind when you get on the rower and I promise you will find the efficiency needed to become a better CrossFitter.  If you have any questions, please ask a coach that’s what we are here for! 

DomWod: IT Band/Glutes/Achilles Stretch

Mobility as a daily routine is just as important as clean eating and a regular sleep schedule. Mobility should be done by all athletes at all skill level.  Basic body maintenance is a fundamental building block for long term success.  With this year’s open just wrapping up now is the time to fall into those good habits to prepare for next year’s open and become the best athlete you can.  For this month’s mobility we are focusing on two very important muscles that often cause problems for athletes. The first is the iliotibial band, also called the IT band. 


 The IT band arises at its proximal end from the tendons of the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) and gluteus maximus muscles. From its origin, the iliotibial tract travels along the lateral side of the thigh and across the knee joint, inserting on the lateral epicondyle of the tibia.  When the IT band is inflamed the pain can be felt on the outside part of the knee and can extend into the hips, glutes and sometimes the pelvis!
This can be caused from existing knee injury but for most CrossFitters it is most likely from resulting from poor mobility.  Additionally, athletes not executing the proper range of motion when performing lifts and body weight movements will often make the IT pain worse! For today’s mobility of the IT band we will be doing a simple stretch.  All you need is two bands and an anchor point.  One band will be wrapped around the anchor point and you will then put your leg in through the bottom, and place the band as deep into the groin as comfortably possible.  The second band gets placed around the midfoot in a fully extended position.  From here the foot is moved to the opposite side of the anchor, while keeping both hips placed firmly on the floor.  The straighter the legs the deep the stretch on the IT band.  



The main focus of the second stretch is the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is also called the calcaneal tendon.


The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf muscles) unite into one band of tissue, which becomes the Achilles tendon at the low end of the calf. The Achilles tendon then inserts into the calcaneus.  Poor ankle mobility can inhibit all the squatting movement CrossFit has to offer, the more complicated lifts become much harder because your poor mobility will make it harder to get to the bottom of your squat in an upright position.  For the ankle mobility we will be using the same anchor band and we can use a weight plate or anything else that will cause dorsiflexion.  The band will be wrapped around the ankle and from here our toes will go on the top of the weight or ledge.  We use the band to force our ankle back to the rig giving us a much deeper stretch.  Drop down into a lunge position and try your best to force your knee past your toes while keeping your heels on the ground.  


Mobility is extremely important on becoming the athlete you want to be.  Practicing it daily will make all the difference in the way your body feels, recovers, and performs day after day.  If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!

March Mobility: Flexors

This month we will be working on some of the most important flexors in CrossFit.  For the upper body we will focus on finger and wrist flexors to continue to improve our front rack position that we use almost every day.  For the lower body we will be working on opening up our hip flexors because with all the squatting volume we do its imperative we do routine maintenance. 

Let’s begin with the upper body, in the forearm and hand we have a whole network of muscles that both flex and extend each finger as well as the wrist as a whole.  There are multiple layers on each side of the forearm, and depending on what side of the forearm you are looking at will help you determine what muscle group you will be working on.  For us, we want the palm side of the forearm or the anterior side in the anatomical position



 



This is all just in the forearm and doesn’t include the muscles within the hand! Looking at the pictures above we can see why mobility within the wrist and front rack can be extremely limited due to the amount of muscles that can be tight! Good news we can try our best to loosen some of them up with the following mobility drill.  What you will need is a lacrosse ball and a high pain tolerance!

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    We will first start on the pointer finger; our starting position will be on our knees sitting on our ankles. From here we place the lacrosse ball under our index finger pad, right where are fingerprint is located, we want to try our best not to have it go past that first knuckle.  With the ball on the floor and fingers spread apart facing away from the body we will then lean our shoulder as far as we can forward past the ball really focusing on that muscle keeping our finger tight.  This will not feel very pleasant for the first 30 seconds or so, but we will try to maintain each position for 2 minutes.  After the two minutes is up we move to the middle finger, ring finger and finally the pinky.  Repeat this 2 times, on each hand and watch your front rack get better instantly.  Routine maintenance is key in keeping these muscles loose and helping us achieve optimal wrist mobility!

     

Next, we will open up the lower body, specifically the hip flexors on both, legs as well as, upper quadriceps.  Hip flexors can be extremely tight and can often cause pain.  For those of us that sit hours on end whether from driving or office job this problem becomes much worse.  Since we are constantly contracting the muscles get used to this and stay nice and tight, however, this is the last thing we want.  This can chance our posture, inhibit our range of motion, and really affect our daily lives.  What is the cure you ask? A nice deep stretch that requires minimal to no equipment and can be done from home!  All we will be doing is getting in a lunge position close to a wall or right in front of a couch.  From here our back leg will be placed up on the wall, bench, or couch and from there we stand as upright as possible.  There are a few major focus points, number one is to always take deep breaths while stretching this will help the muscles relax and make the stretch far less painful.  The second focus point is keeping your core tight, by arching your back you are taking away from the overall stretch and will lessen its effectiveness.  Finally, we want to be sure we ease into the stretch, as stated before these muscles can be very tight and the last thing we want to do is pull a muscle from stretching because we jumped in it too fast.  This stretch should be done daily prior to class to make sure our hip flexors are ready for what is to come for each WOD.  

 

DOMWOD: Triceps and Hip Flexors

This month’s mobility we again will focus upper body and lower body.  For the upper body our main focus will be triceps.  Many crossfiters often have shoulder problems, whenever shoulder problems are present we can’t rule out the tricep being the actual issue site.  The double lacrosse ball will be needed for this mobility exercise.  We will want to focus on the insertion point of the tricep, this is located right below the posterior deltoid.  From here we will lay on our arm similar to how we would take a nap using our arm as a pillow, as pain starts to subside we will begin to make our way down towards the elbow. By mashing the tricep we should see good results for any shoulder pain that could be occurring.  

 


For the lower body mobility, we will focus on the hip flexors, for this we again need a lacrosse ball as well as a wall or bench.  We will first be lying face down on the floor with our knee bent, this will allow us to really dig into the upper thigh as well as the flexors themselves.  We want to focus on keeping all of our weight on the ball while moving in a side to side motion.  After we roll out on the lacrosse ball we will then go into a lung position pushing our hips forward to allow our flexors a maximal stretch and recovery from all that we do on a daily basis.  

 

If you need any help, ask a coach! Keeping up with daily maintenance is extremely important, it will prepare you for the upcoming open and keep you healthy! Good luck bears!

Mobility Practice: DomWOD

With the holidays coming people try to get in and out of the gym as quick as they can, because of this they neglect the most important aspect of being active and involved in strength training, mobility. Mobility is a keystone strength training it can help with recovery, decrease stress, and help with life in general.  Bear Canyon CrossFit hopes to help with this by releasing different mobility exercises you can do to help optimize your fitness level and keep you happy and healthy.

 

  1. First we will focus on the upper body specifically the serratus anterior muscles, serratus posterior inferior muscles, external abdominal obliques, the longissimus muscles, and finally the latissimus dorsi muscles.  All these muscles comprise from the armpit to the hip. Start by setting up the band on a pull-up bar, next we bring our hand up through the bottom and grab the band.  The step away far enough where there is tension in the band and slight stretch down the side when hand is lifted to 12 o’clock.  From here we cross the foot furthest from the rig behind our closer leg and lean directly into the stretch. Try to focus on having the bicep behind the head which will allow for the best stretch.  20-30 seconds is optimal then switch arms and repeat for two sets on each arm.  This is perfect after workouts with lots of pull-ups or muscle

  2. Next we focus on the adductor muscles. There are more than one so we have to make sure we cover them all.  These muscles are the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, and adductor magnus.  First lay on your side, knee and hip flat on the floor. The barbell angle is the same angle as shin, this means the bar will be perpendicular to our thigh and the muscles we plan to mash.  Roll these muscles out and if you find a specific spot continue to roll over it until it loosens up.  This is perfect for the end of the week after numerous lunges squats and sumo deadlifts. 

Coach's Corner: Hamstring Mobility

It’s that time again, with the new year rolling in, it is the perfect time to set up new habits to help us maintain great mobility and help us with recovery.  This month’s mobility we want to focus on the hamstrings, as well as shoulders to help improve the front rack position.

First we will start with the hamstrings, the hamstrings are comprised of 3 muscles: the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus each of these muscles help with flexion in the knee, as well as help with hip extension. By doing the following hamstring mobility (mashing) you will feel immediate results which will help with optimal hamstring range of motion. 

What you will need is a hard surface to sit on tall enough for your legs to hang freely, a resistance band, as well as lacrosse ball. Sitting on the box with your starting leg you will wrap the band around your midfoot allowing you to have complete control of your leg in your hands.  We then place the lacrosse ball on the origin of the muscle group which is circled in red and begin extending our leg as well as flexing, after 10 to 15 reps we then adducting and abducting our leg (side to side) this will help break up any tight fascia tissue as well as loosen any knots.  When you no longer feel pain in that area work the ball down an inch at a time until you get to the insertion point (circled in blue slightly above the back of the knee)

Next we will work on the upper body, specifically the external rotators of the shoulder.  The muscles that comprise this movement are the rotator cuff as well as the posterior deltoid.  We will lay on our side placing the ball right under our shoulder with our arm perpendicular to our body.  With our elbow flexed we then try to bring our palm flat to the floor, then the back of our hand to the floor this is 1 repetition, try to get as far as you can in a slow and controlled manner giving yourself a slight pause at the end of range, continue to breath normally throughout the movement this will help those muscles relax increase range of motion.  Get 50 reps then switch arms.

If you have any questions about either of these movements, ask a coach they will be more than happy to help! Good luck and Happy New Year!