Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull, Carry.
These are all fundamental movement patterns. They all test the body in various positions and planes of movement. All of these movements require some amount of mobility in order to perform them.
The same can be said about the squat.
The squat, or variations thereof, have certain mobility requirements at the shoulders, thoracic spine, hips, and ankles in order to perform the movement safely and effectively.
Here are 3 Quick and Easy Mobility Drills to Prepare You for the Squat!
1. Quadruped Rockback w/ Thoracic Rotation
This movement helps to target mobility at the thoracic spine as well as at the adductors. Maintaining a neutral spine, sit your hips back until you feel a good stretch throughout the adductors. Then maintain the end position and rotate through your thoracic spine.
Thoracic spine extension as well as adductor mobility is necessary for proper depth during the squat.
Perform for 8-10 reps per side.
2. 90/90 Hip ER/IR
Hip internal and external rotation range of motion is important in the squat. For external rotation, we want the hips to be able to exhibit external range of motion to avoid any excessive knee valgus position as well as be in the most powerful position to move the weight.
The reason we want to see adequate hip internal rotation range of motion is because if normal hip internal rotation is not present and it is restricted, then you can be pulled out of a stable position as you descend into the bottom of the squat.
Also, if you don't have the pre-requisite amount of hip internal rotation mobility, then your body will not know how to avoid going into a deleterious position such as hip internal rotation.
This movement can be performed with or without the kettlebell as shown in the video. Place yourself into a 90/90 position and rock forward into ER and backwards into IR.
Hold for 2-3 seconds for 5-8 reps per side then switch.
3. World’s Greatest Stretch
This movement encompasses many aspects of the body. From thoracic spine all the way down to hip and knee, the World’s Greatest Stretch is a solid movement to address multiple areas. It is is by far the most bang for your buck mobility drill out there.
Perform a forward lunge at a 45 degree angle. Bring your hands towards your forward foot and then reach up into thoracic extension/rotation.
Any areas of limitation in thoracic spine extension/rotation, hip extension, adductor mobility, etc. can be addressed with the World’s Greatest Stretch.
Perform for 5 reps per side alternating.
There you have it. 3 movements that will save you time as well as get you moving better at the shoulders, thoracic spine, hips, and ankles. Make sure to give these a try before your next squat session.
You walk into any Crossfit Box in the world and you are going to see a multitude of equipment ranging from barbells to rigs to boxes and med balls. At some, you may feel like a kid walking into a candy store with the amount of equipment to use.
Photo credit: rogueeurope.eu
There is one piece of equipment that may be missing though!
I got the idea for this post after listening to The Movement Fix Podcast with Dr. Ryan DeBell and Tony Gentilcore. During the interview, it was mentioned that more Crossfit Boxes needed…
They are also know as “Hex Bars due to their hexagonal shape.
What are Trap Bars?
Trap Bars or Hex Bars are a type of bar that is used for deadlifting. It can also be used for squat or carry variations, but it is mostly used to deadlift. There are no as common as a typical straight bar found in most boxes or fitness facilities.
Who should use a Trap Bar?
The trap bar is a great tool for anyone to use. Now, this sounds too good to be true, but the trap bar is a great teaching tool for someone just learning how to deadlift. The advantage of a trap bar is that the weight is in line with the body as opposed to a Sumo or Conventional deadlift where the weight is out in front of the body.
It is a great teaching tool for someone just learning how to deadlift. There are fewer steps and parts of the movement to remember when attempting the lift.
Now, if you’ve ever performed a trap bar deadlift, you will notice that you will be able to lift substantially more weight than with a Conventional or Sumo variation.
That is true. You will also be able to lift more weight since the weight is closer to the lifter’s center of mass. In addition, the handles of the bar are higher off the ground so the lifter doesn’t have to get as low and close to the floor.
The reason behind having beginners or people who are new to deadlifting start with the Trap Bar is that there is less room for error and it is a great tool.
Now, if they can display proper technique, mobility, stability, etc., then by all means, start using a straight bar for other deadlifting variations.
But, some people may never get to the performing those other variations.
Well, for the brevity of this post, be sure to check out my guest post on Dr. John Rusin’s site, Why People Need to Deadlift Differently.
A basic summary of that post is that not everyone is made to deadlift from the floor. Whether it be due to pain, soft tissue, joint, or structural limitations at the ankle, hip, lumbar or thoracic spines, some people just not made to deadlift from the floor safely.
It can also be used as a way to allow the body to rest from pulling Conventional or Sumo and change up your training cycle as well. It is a little more forgiving on the lumbar spine since the hip and lumbar spine demands are less.
Instead of forcing a square peg through a round hole and increasing your risk for injury and zapping your performance, try performing a Trap Bar deadlift.
Do you find yourself using the foam roller or doing some type of self-myofascial release work to improve your overhead shoulder mobility?
Do you do this religiously, day in and day out, it improves, but then every time you go to train again it reverts back to what it used to be?
Well, one of the reasons you may not be maintaining the improvements you make each session is because you aren’t giving your body a stimulus to maintain this new mobility.
Here is a quick and easy test to determine if you have full shoulder mobility:
-Lie on your back.
-Bend your knees.
-Let your arms go overhead.
-You should have no pain or pinching in this position.
If your arms go straight overhead and can touch the table or ground, then you have full overhead shoulder mobility. If you don’t, then performing your shoulder or thoracic spine self-myofascial release work may help.
But now that you have improved it, we want to make sure it can be maintained.
First off, we want to see if you can access this mobility ACTIVELY!
Standing, with your feet together, take your arm and reach up, behind your head and try to touch your opposite scapula (shoulder blade).
Perform on the opposite side. You should be able to perform this without compensation. Compensations include:
-Leaning backwards with your entire body.
-Shrugging your opposite shoulder to decrease the distance to your scapula.
-Sidebending to shorten the distance.
The list can go on.
If you have full mobility passively on the table/ground, but can’t access it actively, then there is a motor control issue occurring.
Motor control is not strength. Motor control is muscular timing and sequencing that occurs during movement. It is more about precision and control than it is pure strength.
For example, think of a slingshot.
photo credit: http://keywordsuggest.org/gallery/585597.html
When using a slingshot, both arms are involved. One arm is holding the slingshot while the other pulls the elastic backwards.
The arm that pulls the elastic backwards, think of that as muscular strength. It takes muscular force, usually quite a bit, to pull that backwards.
The arm that is holding the slingshot stable, think of that as motor control. It takes more control and “stability” to hold it still. It usually doesn’t require as much force as pulling the elastic backwards, but more precision.
With that being said, if you can’t perform something actively, but you have full mobility, the timing of your neuromuscular system may be altered.
To work on improving your active mobility or maintaining newly acquired mobility, we need to train the nervous system on how to control it.
If we don’t, it will revert back to what it knows and to the pre-SMR mobility.
Drills to work on new “mobility” can include:
Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion
-Maintain a flat lumbar spine against the wall.
-Start with your feet 6-8 inches away from the wall.
-Gently reach like something is 1-inch in front of your finger tips once your arms go above shoulder height.
-Continue reaching as you bring your arms overhead.
Forearm Wall Slides
-Maintain a neutral spine.
-Once your elbows pass shoulder height, firmly press your hands into the wall and maintain that pressure as you slide up the wall.
-Think of pushing your trunk away from the wall as you slide up.
Quadruped Assisted Reach, Roll, and Lift
-Perform slow and controlled.
Yoga Push-Up Sans Push-Up
-Think of "pushing the ground away from you" with your hands.
We can perform self-myofascial release aka foam rolling, lacrosse ball work, etc. all we want, but if we don't give the brain and the nervous system a stimulus to maintain any "new" mobility, then the body will revert back to what it knows with feeling tight.
Give some of these drills a try after you perform your SMR work to help maintain the improvements you make!
Here I will be writing and posting about topics ranging from physical therapy, injury prevention/reduction, and strength and conditioning.