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!