Coach Imtiaz

Flexibility is the ability to maximise the range of motion (ROM) at a given joint. Each joint has “normal” limits for ROM. If your range is lesser than those limits you have a lack of flexibility, whereas if your range is beyond those limits you are hyper-mobile. Both a lack of flexibility and hyper-mobility come with injury concerns, but I’m going to talk about the former.

Flexibility is one of the 10 recognised physical traits that fall under CrossFit’s first model of fitness. Inflexibility therefore means less fitness and that means diminished health. You don’t really notice a lack of flexibility when you’re sedentary, unless you remain sedentary until you’re older and basic daily tasks such as reaching for a cupboard or bending to pick something up become a challenge.

You also won’t notice inflexibility if you’re following an exercise program that uses anything other than functional movements. If you’re following a program like ours that employs multi-joint movements through the joints’ full ROM, a lack of flexibility is exposed immediately.

If inflexibility is the root, you aren’t quite able to achieve good positions despite your best efforts. Even though you understand and can visualise what you should be doing, and it feels like you are doing it, the movement is still dysfunctional.

We strive to improve flexibility in order to improve overall fitness. But while inflexibility may be the root of some movement dysfunction, the real problems arise when you add strength and capacity to that dysfunction. That is, you add load and keep performing reps in that abhorrent movement pattern.

That movement pattern is eventually registered in the brain as normal. Until something breaks.

So what should you do? The obvious answers would be: Don’t add load, speed or volume to dysfunctional movements, spend time on flexibility daily, and adapt workouts to meet your abilities. But nothing is obvious 😉

Here are some guidelines:

  • Start by checking in with a coach. We’re there to ensure you safely achieve the intended benefits of the overall program.

  • Practice flexibility daily, and spend most time stretching at the points of stickiness.

  • Substitute alternate movements in for those where reducing ROM is unsafe. For example, reducing ROM on an overhead press is unsafe, so swap it out for something else.

  • Practice flexibility daily. We program a weekly cool-down for you 😉

  • Strive for good ROM with good positions first.

  • GRADUALLY and PROGRESSIVELY add load to a movement pattern WHEN your mechanics are sound and ROM is optimal.

  • Be smart. A few weeks or months away from doing particular movements is a small amount of time when you look at the big picture and that trumps getting injured.

Darren Ellis