How to Mobilize – Part II
by Erik Castiglione
Greetings Relentless Family! It’s good to be stateside once again. In last week’s article, we talked about how to do some pre-WOD mobility to prep you for the day’s workout. Today’s article is “How to Mobilize – Part II.” Today, we’re going to talk about post WOD mobility and remedial mobility work. This will conclude our mobility series.
Post WOD Mobility
Post WOD mobility is a good way to help your body recover from a tough workout. After you’ve taxed your muscles, we want to promote blood flow to the area to help repair them and prevent soreness. Foam rolling is a good way to do this. After a workout, once you’ve caught your breath (and cleaned up your equipment!), grab a foam roller and do 6-8 passes over body parts that you used the most during the WOD. Once again, if you feel any tender spots, try to spend a little more time on them until they feel less tender. This quick, simple action can greatly reduce any soreness you might have the following day.
Static stretching is also a good post WOD tool. Stretching after a workout can help you relax your muscles and cool you down, again promoting recovery. That being said, static stretching is not helpful, and can in fact hurt you, if done when you are cold, before a workout. Stick to dynamic movements like we discussed last week before a WOD. In sum, roll out and stretch immediately after a workout to help your recovery.
Remedial mobility is targeted mobility work to help you overcome movement deficiencies that prevent you from correctly performing movements. For example, if you are unable to achieve a full front rack position, you are not going to be able to front squat, clean, thruster, push press, or jerk properly. To fix your position, you’ll need to first figure out what your limiting factor is. An easy way to do that is to see a coach for help. Once you and your coach have a plan, follow these three steps:
- Work upstream and downstream from the affected area
- Mobilize at the point of restriction
- Test and retest to assess improvement.
We’ll illustrate these steps using once again using the front rack position as an example. Most people who have a hard time with the front rack position feel pain in their wrists. Logically, they assume that it must be their wrist flexibility that is preventing them from achieving a full front rack. In actuality, it is often the triceps and posterior shoulder muscles that are the limiting factor. These muscles are upstream from the wrist. Simply focusing on the wrist will not solve the problem even though that is the affected area.
Let’s assume that your coach has assessed that you have tight triceps, and has assigned the triceps barbell smash (see below video) to loosen them up. Rolling your arm while it’s bent will not allow you to target the deep tissue of the triceps, and therefore is an ineffective way to perform the drill. Instead, you must extend your arm on the bar to get in there. It is only by working at this end range of motion of the triceps, which is the point of restriction, that you can improve your arm’s mobility.
Side Note: Discomfort is normal – you are helping your body regain ranges of motion. Excessive pain is bad – only you can tell the difference between pain and discomfort. Navigate this line carefully.
Finally, you need to retest your front rack position to see if there is any improvement. If it feels more comfortable, you’ve improved! In general, the MINIMUM THERAPEUTIC DOSE for any long-term results is 2 minutes per mobility drill. This means that if a coach assigns you 3 drills to improve your front rack, you need to spend at least 2 minutes per drill, per arm, which is at least 12 minutes of work. As you can see, the minutes can add up quickly. Because it is very targeted and intense, remedial work can cause some muscle fatigue which can interfere with your workout. For this reason, remedial mobility work should not be done immediately before a workout. Do it a couple hours before a workout, or any time after. Make sure you’re warm, and follow the 3 rules.
That concludes our mobility series, and we hope you found it helpful. Questions, comments, concerns? Sound off in comments!