Flexibility and mobility are an essential part of your CrossFit training. Let’s take a closer look at why these two areas are vital to your fitness, what types of CrossFit Stretches there are, and a few examples of what you should do after a CrossFit class.
Flexibility and Mobility
When discussing CrossFit stretches for training, you must understand the difference between flexibility and mobility as it pertains to the range of motion. Per the CrossFit Workshop: Flexibility Training Guide, the terms mean:
- Flexibility means what you can do with your joint passively, which means when you are seated and stretching forward to touch your toes.
- Mobility is what you can do with your joint actively, like when you kick your leg up as high as you can in front of your body.
Both of these concepts are important to your overall fitness. However, flexibility tends to reveal the maximum range of motion you have while mobility does not. That is because when you are moving, the nervous system doesn’t want to allow your body to go to the edge of what is possible. In other words, when you are using slow movements in a static position, your brain lets you go to the edge, but when moving, it protects you by backing off from it.
CrossFit flexibility training uses many different kinds of stretching to improve these two areas. In particular, CrossFit stretches seek to reduce the amount of reserve that your nervous system allows when you are moving or have a heavy load to move. The increased range of motion helps your performance and safety during CrossFit training.
The Types of Stretching:
There are different types of stretching involved in CrossFit Flexibility training. Per the CrossFit Journal, they include:
- Static Stretching: Used as recovery, this type of stretching increases range of motion.
- Dynamic Stretching: Best for warms ups, dynamic stretching is moving a joint through its range of motion without much weight or deep stretching movement.
- Joint Rotations: These stretches are like dynamic stretches, meaning movement through the full range of motion, and you do them every day.
- Loaded Stretching: You work close to the maximum range of motion using an outside force like gravity or an object to amplify it. PNF is a type of loaded stretching.
- PNF: Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching uses a partner or object to move you to the maximum range of motion, and then has you resist for an interval before relaxing into a deeper stretch.
You use loaded stretching and PNF to improve your strength as you approach the end of your range of motion, which the CrossFit Journal says is imperative for your functional movements. [TL1] Having more power at the end of a functional movement makes it easier to get deeper in those positions and maximize the benefits of them.
After Class, You Need to Recover
The different types of stretching serve different purposes. However, after CrossFit training, you need to recover. To that end, PopSugar Fitness has three static stretches you should do after CrossFit class:
CrossFit Stretch #1: Seated Straddle
In a seated position, spread your feet apart as far as is comfortable. Sit up tall and draw your belly and ribs in. Fold forward with your hands, reaching out in front of you on the floor. Continue until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Hold for a minute or more.
CrossFit Stretch #2: Pigeon
Get on the floor with your right leg bent in front of you and your left leg straight out behind you. Pull the right heel toward your left side and lean over your right leg slowly, so your body is over your bent right leg, and your hands are reaching out in front of you. Hold for at least a minute on each side to give the hip time to open up. Then, switch sides.
CrossFit Stretch #3: Bridge
Lay down on the floor with your knees bent and your hands along your side. Putting your weight in your heels and keeping your knees around a fist-width apart, raise your hips toward the ceiling while keeping your upper back and shoulders resting on the ground. Hold for five seconds and lower your hips down to the floor. Repeat.
To see photo demonstrations of these exercises on PopSugar, please click here.
Biostrap.com recommends you do these two stretches every day, even on days you don’t have CrossFit class.
CrossFit Stretch # 4: Seated Spinal Twist
Start with your legs in front of you and then cross your right leg over your left and bend your right knee putting your foot on the floor. Then, hug your knee to your chest with your left arm, which moves the right heel closer to the left sit bone. Your right hand is behind you on the ground helping you to engage the right glute. Hold for at least 30 seconds and then switch to the other side.
CrossFit Stretch #5: Calf Raises
The simplest of the stretches, you stand on a flat surface and lift to your toes, repeating up to 20 times in three different sets.
Biostrap has other stretches identified, as well. To see them all, please click here.
Stretching is essential to your recovery, just as flexibility and mobility are vital to your fitness. Consider incorporating more stretching of all kinds, but especially loaded stretching exercises (with your coach, please) to increase your range of motion and strength near the maximum stretch. You might find the best way to meet your stretch goals in CrossFit training are to engage your CrossFit Stretches.
“CrossFit Workshop: Flexibility Training Guide.” Assets.crossfit.com. Web. 10 December 2019. <http://assets.crossfit.com/pdfs/seminars/Flexibility_Training_Guide.pdf>.
Beers, Emily. “You’re Probably Stretching Wrong.” Journal.crossfit.com. 18 August 2017. Web. 10 December 2019. <https://journal.crossfit.com/article/flexibility-beers-2>
Brown, Airanne. “6 Stretches You Should Do Every Day.” 26 February 2019. Web. 10 December 2019. <https://biostrap.com/blog/6-stretches-you-should-do-every-day/>.
Sugar, Jenny. “To Ease Tightness After a CrossFit Class, I Always Do These 3 Stretches.” 5 June 2018. Web. 10 December 2019. <https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Stretches-CrossFit-44735981?stream_view=1#photo-44735983>.