The Mobility Plan
Mobility is most peoples’ greatest issue. It can affect quality of life now and especially when we are older. It can decrease our potential in the gym and sport. It can make us ticking time-bombs just waiting to go off.
In the gym, I have seen people’s front squat max go up, dramatically, in just a few weeks primarily by the athlete attacking mobility issues they have. The more upright they are able to keep their torso and the better the athlete keeps the bar close to their center of gravity, the more weight they can move. I like using the front squat as an example as you can pick almost any tight muscle or restricted joint to work on and it will improve your squat, front rack position, or your ability to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. A tight muscle or restricted joint does not allow your body to work anywhere close to 100% capacity. Each little issue that improves improves the ability of your body to produce it maximum potential force.
Our goal should be to remain injury free and to challenge what our bodies are capable of. We need a plan to identify what our biggest issues are and to systematically work towards improving full range of motion through functional movements.
Personally I have been injured 3 times in my WOD career. Zero of them were in the gym. They were all from me putting myself into a bad position and my body not putting up with my lack of mobility in the area: Putting something up in my closet, bending down to pick-up trash in a parking lot, sleeping on my side. I know I have mobility issues in my shoulders, hips, and hamstrings. I knew this before the injuries I described and yet it took me getting hurt, in those exact three areas, to finally commit to attacking them hard instead of just going through the motions. If I tweak a muscle, I have only me to blame as I am a ticking time-bomb until I restore my muscle and joints to being capable of full range of motion. Use the gym to show you what you need to work-on and improve for life.
Now, you don’t need to follow my recommendations exactly to benefit from this article. My goal is for you to come up with a systematic plan to get your shit together…all of your shit. Sleeping, sitting, and poor movement put our bodies into positions of restriction from which we need to restore our movement capabilities. We also need to be sure we are attacking every part of our body without neglecting anything while allowing more time to focus on our biggest trouble spots. You will ALWAYS have things on which you can improve. Please note: just because the pain in in your knee (or where ever), that does not mean the primary issue is in your knee. The issue will be in the tissues and joints above and below the knee and likely, be a combination of things that need to be improved.
Your Mobility Tool-kit Should Include
- Foam Roller
- Lacrosse Ball
- 2 Lacrosse Balls taped together with duct tape
- Strength Band
- Voodoo Floss Bands
Waking Up (Post shower if you shower in the morning)
Total Time: 3 minutes
0:30 of Arm Circles
0:30 Ankle Movement
20 Air Squats
Getting out of Cars
Total Time: 30 seconds
10 Air Squats
Every 30 Minutes of Sitting
Total Time: 1-2 Minutes
0:30 Walk around
5 Air Squats
Daily Global Maintenance
Total Time: 12 Minutes a Day
Like brushing teeth you need to systematically hit every part of your body through-out the week. Generally, 2 minutes a side will suffice, but if you are continuing to make progress, don’t let 2 minutes stop you.
To make it easy, go in this order. You will want to be creative with how you go after the areas. You don’t want to do the same mobility exercise every single time. Just like WODs, keep you mobility constantly varied.
How to use this:
This is not ordered by importance. If you miss a day, don’t skip a day, just do the day you missed.
Each day is assigned Soft Tissue Muscle Work / Joint Capsule Work. Each day, you should pick various mobility exercise that will attack the day’s body areas. Use the test/re-test movements to actively see quick improvements made.
Day 1 – Hamstring, Adductor / Hip Capsule
Posterior Chain and Medial Chain
Test / Re-test: Air Squats
Day 2 – Triceps, Biceps, Forearm / Elbow Capsule, Wrist Capsule
Test / Re-test: Front Rack
Day 3 – Calf, Bottom of Foot / Ankle Capsule
Test / Re-test: Wall Squat or Overhead Squat
Day 4 – Upper Back, Neck, Scapula / Thoracic Rotation
Test / Re-test: Kettlebell Swing
Day 5 – Glutes / Hip Capsule
Posterior High Chain
Test / Re-test: Squat
Day 6 – Pect, Delt / Shoulder Capsule
Test / Re-test: Press, Jerk, or Overhead Squat
Day 7 – Quad, Hip Flexor / Knee
Anterior High Chain
Test / Re-test: Squat
WOD Specific Mobility
Total Time: 4-10 minutes
This is where we attack our biggest mobility weaknesses as they pertain to the WOD. Look at the WOD today and pick out what is going to help you the most. Don’t forget what you did for your global mobility, and choose something you have not yet hit today.
Here are some examples.
WOD Includes: Deadlifts
Global Mobility for the Day: Day 1 – Hamstring, Adductor / Hip Capsule
Specific WOD Mobility to Add Pre-WOD: Glutes
With the global mobility that day, we already opened up our hips and worked on the inside and back of our legs. Activating our glutes can help utilize our posterior chain more, making our deadlifts more efficient.
A proper cool-down is necessary for proper recovery and adaptation. Be creative with this. You can do something WOD specific, or save your daily global maintenance for post-WOD depending on what it is.
For more information and ideas about a proper cool-down, please see our Coach’s Corner Cool-down Article.