Mobility means being pain free with full range of motion in all joints in all directions first thing in the morning. Are you mobile?
No fancy introductions are needed for this piece. Simply, I attended the very famous and highly sought after Mobility Wod Movement and Mobility Cert, founded by elite coach, physical therapist, and author Kelly Starrett, this past weekend. All I can say is this:
- No matter what kind of athlete you are, you need to attend this workshop.
- I can’t believe how much of EVERYTHING I, we, you, do is WRONG when in conjunction to proper body mechanics and movement.
- I have never been so emotionally drained that I had to stop myself from crying TWICE from the sheer volume of knowledge/experience/enlightenment being poured into my brain on top of the same realization that EVERY WAY I’VE EVER MOVED HAS BEEN WRONG!
- And no matter what kind of athlete you are, YOU NEED TO ATTEND THIS WORKSHOP. It will blow your mind, save your back, fix your shoulders, loosen your hamstrings, and teach you how to do 100 burpees without pain. No exaggerations on any of the above.
Look, in a nutshell, I learned more in one day from instructor Roop Sihota than I can spill out on a page here. No matter how much I write about this experience, it’s not going to do any justice to hands-on training, and it will only pale in comparison to working with the great coaches from Mobility Wod. But I will tell you one thing that I learned: some of my body mechanics just flat out SUCK. And no offense, but yours probably do too.
Fixing my problem–the Overhead Position Archetype
So there are seven basic movement archetypes directly related to our hips and shoulders. I found out that my overhead positioning archetype, SUCKS. Like, really bad. I mean, I always kind of knew this, but ever since I got released from physical therapy and my shoulders have been doing a little better, (I have a left labrum tear and right rotator cuff issues) I’ve been slowly adding back in overhead movements. But on Sunday, when I learned how to brace my spine and put my body in its correct position for these types of lifts, I could not get my arms into the proper overhead position without compromising my spine. I was probably at least 15-30 degrees off of where I should have been.
Meaning, when I do kettlebell swings, snatches, presses, handstands (which you know I love), jerks, anything overhead–I’m automatically compromising my form to get my arms where they need to be. (Don’t we all do this for the sake of the workout?) But since I can’t technically extend my arms to their fullest position needed for these movements, other muscles/joints end up picking up the slack. Do you know from where? Either the low back or shoulders, or both. Who has low back pain right now? Who has shoulder pain right now? I’m betting at least half of my readers, if not more. And what’s the result for overcompensation? Injuries. Now I have a torn shoulder, impinged shoulders, internally rotated shoulders, bicep tendinitis, and incredibly tight pecs, lats, and t-spine because of over compensating for a poor movement pattern. So now I’m injured because my mobility sucks and I never took enough time to get mobile enough to swing, press, snatch, or jerk. I did it anyway, forcing the movement and compromising my body.
Think about this for a second: that’s just ONE archetype out of SEVEN hip and shoulder archetypes in which we all need to be MOBILE before doing the exercises that may force us to compromise our bodies. Seriously, think about that. Can you do pistol squats? How’s your front rack? Maybe you’re like me and can’t put things over your head without a struggle? Tight ankles but you still squat? Pain in your hips but you go for that 1RM anyway? Crank your neck back as far as it goes but you damn well get your chin over that pull-up bar? YOU STILL DO IT ANYWAY!
I’m telling you…this weekend was a game changer for me. As depressing as this sounds–and it is–there is a silver lining. The class may have spent a long time this weekend realizing how utterly wrong we’ve been about movement, but we spent much more time focusing on how to fix ourselves, our athletes, our members, and our training partners. And as depressed about my mobility as I was, I feel like I walked out of New York on Sunday with this incredible arsenal of tools ready to fix myself and anyone else who needs a hand. I now know much more about squatting, foot position, knee position, rack positions, banded stretching, foam rolling, lacrosse ball rolling, t-spine mobility, proper breathing technique, myofascial release, partner smashing, flossing, you name it. I can even tell you how to make push-ups and ring-dips easier, make push-ups harder, and make burpees not suck all that much–all the while making form better and the movement more efficient. From a basic plank hold to a heavy overhead squat, we learned about EVERYTHING. I’m telling you, it really is overwhelming how much we learned in such a short amount of time. I am ready to start the fixing.
8 Fascinating–or funny–Lessons Learned
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Roop this weekend. Some bits of information were shocking to me when I first heard them, some were “light-bulb moments,” and some were/are just really cool facts. Regardless, you have to check this out. These are certainly my top picks of the whole cert.
1. “You should always leave a workout feeling better than when you started.”
I don’t know about you, but that usually doesn’t happen to me after many wods. How many times do you leave the gym feeling like you smashed the workout vs. the workout smashed you? Roop said that your last ten reps should look BETTER than your first ten. Form first, everything else second.
2. “Do NOT mess with your spine.”
Apparently the US spends $100-200 BILLION each year on back pain. Each year?! And here we are with the tools to fix most of those issues.
3. “If your butt’s off, all bets are off.”
Squeeze your freakin’ butt every single damn time you set up for any lift. Then tighten your belly. Oh and learn how to BREATHE…through your belly. This will help your lifts immensely.
4. “If you don’t have range of motion, you’ll compromise your spine every time. End point.”
There are seven lifting positions that we need to reach full range of motion within before even attempting the lift. If we can’t get our bodies in the right position, how are we supposed to bear a weight that way?! You can either do a pistol, or you can’t. You can either hit the bottom of your squat or you can’t. And if you can’t, that’s where YOUR mobility plan comes into play. This is uber cool to me because it’s an actual measuring tool. If you come to me and you can’t get into a couch stretch, I know how I can now help you. I know where your limitations are. All you need is to be able to move in seven different patterns. If not? Boom…we’ll start with what you can’t move! Simple as that!
5. “When competition trumps position, shit goes out the window.”
No one gets their scores/numbers/times up on the board at San Francisco CrossFit (SFCF, Kelly Starrett’s home gym) because the competitive side of most athletes will throw their form out the window in order to beat someone else’s time. At SFCF, you get your name up if you complete the entire workout with proper form. You know the crazy hero wod I did Saturday at Reebok CrossFit 5th Avenue? I went back and looked at those pictures of myself after the mobility cert. I was embarrassed at how bad my form was. I even knew better in the pull-ups. But I compromised in order to Rx and finish. Not smart…and I’m still sore from it. Again, it doesn’t matter what your sport is, you should know how your body needs to move for whatever position you play.
6. “Keep your brain turned on.”
If you’re rolling around on your foam roller, at least think about what you’re doing. Have a purpose, dig deeper, find something that needs work, contract, relax, and spend some brain energy doing what needs to be done. Have a freakin’ purpose for what you’re doing!
7. “Don’t pee yourself. And don’t let someone get all creepy on you.”
No one should be peeing themselves when jumping. Yes, that happens and yes, there’s a bracing technique to fix it. Also, It’s really easy and effective to use a partner to help mobilize. Use your imagination on what could get awkward. Or maybe you shouldn’t think about it. :/
8. “We don’t ice anymore.”
Oh. Great, because I hated icing anyway. Apparently the founder of RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) issued a release saying that he was wrong. Doctors are starting to think that ice does not actually help muscle recover the way they thought it did. That’s kind of hard for me to believe but I’m not a doctor so I suppose I would believe those who are. Either way, I hate icing, so I’m good with this.
Other interesting things that caught my attention:
- At San Francisco CrossFit, the athletes who did the best in the 2014 Open were NOT the best athletes at the box. The ones who ranked highest were the best MOVERS from the box. That in itself speaks volumes.
- Teaching forward rolling is critical for gyms and candlestick rolls have a direct correlation to muscle ups. I’m putting those into my plan for sure.
Here, Carl’s video talks about using the candlestick rolls for pistol progression but the same technique also helps develop the explosive center needed for muscle-ups.
- Unless you’re KStar, set up for your deadlift from the top down. If you can’t get to the bar without compromising your spine, don’t deadlift from the floor! Put your bar on plates or something. Or do rack pulls–they’re amazing! Just ask Erik–he does them all the time!
- We should be squatting through our whole foot–not our heels, not mid-foot, our whole foot. Put your damn big toe back on the ground, Steph!
This video doesn’t really talk about the toes but it is super cool in showing great foot position when squatting.
- You shouldn’t actually roll or smash before a workout. It makes you tired. Use bands. Lacrosse balls. Floss. Then smash, roll, smash, smash, and smash as much as possible post wod, before bed, or any other time of day!
- And for me, personally, I have a really tight left hip and ankle. In conjunction with two tight quads, tight calves, tight lats and traps, T-spine, and shitty shoulders. I have some God-awful serious work to do.
What you need to do now
If you can find a mobility course near you and you can afford a few hundred bucks to save your spine, loosen your joints, and learn how to fix yourself, become pain free, and save a crap ton of money from doctor visits, I don’t know why you wouldn’t sign up for this training now. This is not a paid review, I get nothing from telling you to do this, I just really REALLY believe in it. I’m serious when I say that all athletes would benefit. If you can’t sign up yet, at least check out mobilitywod.com. Sign up and start fixing yourself right away. There’s even a daily Rx mobility video to do to help with all our issues. Erik and I just started following the daily mobility videos so that we can get our bodies–or at least do all we can to get them–to their max potential. If being pain-free and 100% mobile is an option, why shouldn’t we take it?
I walked out of this training on Sunday with enough knowledge and tools to start fixing all my movement issues, and hopefully enough knowledge to start helping others fix themselves. I know I’m constantly experimenting–with everything from food to lifting plans, supplements and new gear–and this will be no different. I’m going to start taking my mobility much more seriously and work, work, WORK MY ASS OFF to fix some of my ailments. I use Strong Figure as a platform to help others, tell you what works, what to try, give you insight on things, and this will be no different. I’m really hoping that the more I can work on myself, the more I can help you guys out too.
I still can’t put into words all that I took in this past weekend, but I can promise you that I’m on a mission to reach that 100% mobile goal within the next year to two years. I hope you follow my progress and I’m really excited about seeing what happens and how I can use this to start helping others. From proper movement position in the swing to stretching the right way at night, there’s a lot of work out there to be done on a lot of people! Erik and I are even going to start making it a part of our nightly routine to help smash one another’s muscles the way I learned in the cert. I hope that you as well take the time to start investing in your mobile health, and if I can help, I will be more than willing.