CrossFit Bold

Get Your CrossFit Shoes Ready

Progressing Mobility

The purpose of this blog is to help each member be more proactive with their own mobility requirements. Included are five simple ‘rule of thumb’ assessments for the joints commonly restricting movement and mobility drill suggestions for each.

In simple terms ‘good mobility’ allows us to move efficiently without compromise, in Crossfit this can translate to heavier lifts, less energy expenditure and a reduction in the likelihood of injury, as long as this is achieved with adequate stability.

Developing good mobility takes time and work, repetitive stretching and movement. We’re all different and require work in one or more of the following joints: hips, shoulders, ankles and thoracic. Wall slides for shoulder mobility is a great example, some people find it the hardest thing ever whilst others assume they’re doing the wrong thing as its so easy! It’s hard to identify and address these in the time allocated to stretching in class.

Athletes in sports with similar demands would go through a full movement screening prior to starting any strength and conditioning program. This would generally be completed along with other assessments such as body composition (as per Lifestyle Challenge) and sport specific performance tests (e.g. speed, power, endurance metrics).

Given the limited time and resources a compromise to full movement screening is needed if we’re to progress. We need to be more focused and proactive. As a starting point I have put together a set of simple self screening tests that can be used to identify which joints you need to work on. The tests are based on rules of thumb that flag common and major mobility issues, it is not intended to be a comprehensive screening.

I’ve included some mobility recommendations for each joint, these are drills that we regularly do at the end of each session so I haven’t gone into too much detail. Should you ‘fail’ any of the ‘rules of thumb’ then you now have the option to either work your own specific mobility or that programmed in the class.

There are five tests, one for ankles (calf), two for hips (hamstrings and glutes/quads), one for thoracic (upper torso), and one for shoulders (lats and pecs) listed below. Let me know if you have any questions.

Ankles – Calf Test

  • Face the wall in a lunge with toe and knee touching the wall with front foot heel on the ground
  • Gradually increase the distance of toe from wall keeping knee against the wall
  • Stop once heel unable to stay flat to floor.

Pass = greater than fist distance between toe and wall with heel down
Fail = distance less than fist width

Mobility drills:

  • Banded ankle stretch
  • Ball in calf
  • Squat with weight over knee

Hips – Hamstring Test

  • Lying on your back flat on the floor place a PVC pipe vertical from the floor at the side of your knee cap,
  • Raise each leg individually as far as possible towards your torso whilst keeping hips neutral on the floor (all movement from leg)
  • Stop at end range prior to any hip rotation.

Pass = heel passing PVC pipe
Fail = heel does not pass PVC pipe

Mobility drills:

  • Straddle stretch, left/right (hamstrings), forward (adductors)
  • Lying raised leg stretch, banded or supported (rig upright)

Hips – Hip Flexors and Quads Test

Lying on your back on a box, legs hanging off the end bum on the box.
Grab one leg to your chest relaxing the other, keeping lower back pressed onto box (no lumbar curve)
Observe straight leg

Hip Flexor
Pass hip = resting thigh flat or knee lower than box
Fail = thigh raised/knee above level of box

Pass = shin vertical from knee (<90 deg knee to hip angle) Fail = shin sub parallel to thigh (>90 deg)

Mobility drills:

  • Couch Stretch
  • Banded hip opener (especially if fail quad stretch)

Thoracic Test

  • Lie on a roller across lowest ribs, with bum and feet on the floor and knees bent
  • Raise arms perpendicular to chest
  • Keeping arms perpendicular to chest rotate them towards the floor with head following hands (do not simply bend at the neck)

Pass = head touches the floor without bum lifting and minimal neck bend
Fail = head does not reach the floor

Mobility drill:

Thoracic mobility drill (Test = looking at hands, without ball)
Thoracic mobility drill (Test = looking at hands, without ball)

Shoulder Test

  • Stand with back flat to wall (no lumber curve), knees slightly bent and shoulders against the wall
  • Hold PVC pipe above head in press position so that elbows at 90 degrees
  • Press pipe over head keeping hands, arms, and back (chest down) in contact with the ball

Pass = easily press above head
Fail = unable to or uncomfortable to keep arms, hands, or back (chest breaks) in contact with the wall

Mobility drills:

  • Roll lats & ball into chest
  • Banded Lat and Pec/delt stretches
  • Wall slides