By Dr. Jake Oergel, Break Parallel Contributor,
Why Focus on Mobility?
Mobility has always been the number one treatment hierarchy throughout my career as a doctor. I never bought into the idea of treating patients based on pain levels. Pain is such a subjective feeling and typically the site of pain rarely correlates to the site of dysfunction present in the musculoskeletal system. I have been known to actually tell patients “Don’t take this the wrong way but I don’t care about your pain…what I care about is your mobility…when your mobility decreases the body will always sense danger thus kicking in the nociceptors in tissue which lead to pain sensation.”
The problem with one’s mobility practice is the process is less than glamorous. We all love the WOD, the strength and the education from extremely smart coaches at our boxes. Few truly likes to invest the time every single day to work on mobility when we have a thousand other tasks to perform? Well I can tell you from practice experience that if you neglect the mobility work you will be visiting doctors like myself sooner than later.
Your mobility practice should match your work practice. Meaning if you put in an hour of work in the box then you should put in an hour of work increasing and maintaining mobility. We live in a world that unfortunately doesn’t cater to efficient biomechanics. The ever increasing need to sit for long periods at your job wreaks havoc on your body. Whether it’s your deep pecs or essential hip flexors, tissues are constantly being put in a position detrimental to your success in the box. This in turn leads to injury and people blaming CrossFit. In the end it truly doesn’t matter the sport but matters the individual who shows up to compete with faulty mechanics. How long would you drive your car around knowing the alignment was off? Pretty sure you would fix that immediately so why don’t you invest time for mobility?
In the end you have two alternatives that directly relate to mobility. As an athlete you can put emphasis on the importance and make the time or you can ignore mobility which leads to burnout, injuries, blaming, decreased performance and finding a new sport that hopefully caters to faulty mechanics.
My three recommendations for areas to start are Ankle, Pelvic and Shoulder. These tips will improve your practice and get your on the path to improvement mobility and performance.
Common flaws are decreased dorsiflexion inhibiting ROM with squat mechanics Ex: Soft tissue mashing of posterior calf structures (soleus, posterior tib). You can use foam roller, barbell or lacrosse ball. Banded distraction of subtalar (ankle) joint will help open up structures surrounding this important ankle joint.
Pelvic Complex (includes femoral/acetabular function, hip flexors and hip stabilization)
Butt winking, shortened hips flexors, lack of neutral bracing, inability to screw in the hips, and medial knee caving. Ex: With increase is seated postures the anterior hip flexors (rectus femoris, psoas) will be shorted due to positional demand. Couch stretch, banded hip distraction working all corners and mashing of those hip soft tissue structures will help free up the low back, pelvis and femoral attachments. Incorporating hip abduction exercises to help stabilize the pelvis will help aid in your mobility practice.
Common flaws included anterior/internally rotated shoulder, deep pec minor shut off, scapular motion inefficiency and inability to get into full extension
Lacrosse ball roll into the pec minor with abduction of the humerus. Banded distraction to the rig working all corners of the shoulder joint/capsule. Foam roll mid to upper thoracic paraspinals as they are typically fibrotic from seated postures.
Remember also that sometimes mobility can be limited because of something mechanically inhibited, nervous system disorder or previous injury that needs professional assistance. If your progress is not coming along according to the amount of work being put in then please consult your coach or a professional in your area.
About the Author
Dr. Jake Oergel is a Chiropractor at Howard County Chiropractic. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise and Sport Science and a Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker College of Chiropractic.
Dr. Jake has been a competitive triathlete completing over 100 multisport events with six Ironman triathlons and two ultramarathons to his credit.
Besides racing Dr. Jake has coached athletes of all levels, from their first 5k all the way to the Hawaii Ironman. Dr. Jake is also very involved in the local Cross Fit scene, engulfing himself not on a competitive level, but on developing a deeper understanding on how to improve performance via efficient biomechanics.