Range Of Motion(ROM)
If you know me well in the CrossFit World, you have probably heard me say, " If I ever opened a public CrossFit box, my two most important goals for the movement parts would be having a strong coaching line up for Mobility and Olympic lifting. Since then, I would also insist on a nutrition coach. Nutrition is for a different article. I want to engage on why flexibility, range of motion, stretching, physical therapy, or mobility is so important to remain healthy and obtain your fitness goals.
What is range of motion and why is it so important? It is the percentage of movement you have at each joint. Flexibility is the range of motion around the joint and can include muscle, tendon, ligament, bone and joint. It is important because if you have limited range of motion, you may have trouble from the simple standpoint of not being able to lift your hands over your head. Just putting groceries away overhead can be difficult or even impossible. Exercising will be limited if your range of motion is limited. Sporting activities such as weight lifting will not be performed at peak performance and chances of injury will increase when you range of motion is limited. Injuries definitely cause limited range of motion and sometimes it can be permanent.
Have you ever thought about the many different reasons a person may have limited range of motion besides an injury? I would guess lifestyle is by far the number one reason for lack of a full range of motion. If you have a sedentary life style or you have repetitive tasks such as slumping over a computer or even a cell phone, more than likely your own personal range of motion is limited. Arthritis can also limit range of motion, however please take note that diet is playing a huge role with arthritis. Merely cleaning up a diet has reversed many forms of arthritis. Many people are overweight and body size does effect range of motion in a negative way. Excessive skin and fat impede movement. Inflammation can also diminish range of motion. Inflammation can be brought on by many factors including diet, alcohol, exercise, drugs and lack of circulation. By reducing your inflammation markers, you can increase range of motion. Joint structures, genetics, gender and age are other factors that can decrease ones range of motion.
Now that we understand what range of motion is, why it can be limited, lets discuss how we can improve range of motion. You can improve your range of motion by stretching and also strengthening exercises. Many of the CrossFit Boxes have mobility classes which work to collectively improve range of motion, aide in the healing of injuries, prevent injuries and make gains in strength training programs such as Olympic lifting through a group of stretches for each joint. Special tools have been created to aide us even more while going through these stretching routines. Pilate and yoga classes are another great way to improve your flexibility as well as other benefits such as relaxing the brain and letting go of a stressful day. It is important to make sure you find a GOOD physical therapist when healing from a serious injury from both a passive and active range of motion. You may even come out of PT with a higher degree of range of motion than prior to your injury especially if you pay attention and keep up with your stretching throughout your life. Performing a small amount of stretches pertaining to the movements performed during a workout before and after the workout really make a difference for me. It is always very apparent to me and how my body feels when I am not taking some time each day to stretch out. I also love going to a yoga class once or twice a week. It makes a huge difference in my CrossFit work outs.
In regards to CrossFit, I have witnessed so many athletes who were stuck on a certain weight especially in Olympic lifting, meaning they could not get a new personal best. After a coach suggested a few mobility exercises over a good period of time, they bring down a new PR(personal record) and many times they are big PR'S! They suddenly realize how important mobility is and promote it to others! I love it, what ever it takes. A good coach can assess you on your range of motion and then prescribe a stretching routine for you personally. Everyone is different and it would be most efficient if you could work on what you need! You can also get a assessment on your range of motion from a GOOD physical therapist.
I also think a good massage therapist and a good chiropractor can help us achieve better range of motion. I have used both to stay in optimal training condition for the games and I just can not say enough about how helpful those two treatments are in aiding of opening up range of motion in our joints, muscles, ligaments, etc. I understand not everyone can afford all these treatments. What I will say is everyone can spend time on stretching to benefit themselves. I once had a mobility CrossFit coach tell me that people don't like to do mobility and will not stick with it. He felt the reasons were the pain involved to hold the stretches and the boredom of performing them. Well, what I say, is where there is a will, there is a way. When I first started spending a large amount of time stretching I was in pain and sore for several weeks, I am glad to say that is behind me for the most part and because I continue to stretch, I can miss a few weeks or months of yoga and still walk back in and complete a gentle yoga class. Stretch my friends, stretch! Please take a moment and subscribe to my website. I would be most grateful!
Love and Peace,