Workout of the Day

When Flexibility Goes Wrong

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We talk often about the importance of having normal, functional range of motion (and by normal, we mean being able to do things like squat your hips down below your knees without caving over, reaching down to grab something from the ground without completely rounding your spine, or reaching your arms overhead -- nothing crazy here, folks). We hold it up as a key element of being fit, and even spend time in class working on our mobility and encourage it outside of class. It’s so important, in fact, that it’s become something of a buzzword these days.

But with all this talk of mobility, range of motion, flexibility, whatever, it’s important to note that it’s not just a matter of being able to pull your leg back to a certain angle or externally rotate to this degree. Yes, we use some definitive metrics such as this to assess range of motion, but we have to recognize that this is only half of the issue. See, being able to crank on your hamstring until your knee is right in front of your face does no good if you have no strength or control through that range of motion. If you have the flexibility for a full, ass-to-grass squat, but only have the strength to control any amount of weight through the range of motion of a half squat, I’d say your flexibility isn’t doing much for you.

Consider your range of motion like a container. The more range of motion you have, the larger the container. Consider strength and control like stuff to fill the container. If your stuff (strength, control) only fills half of the container (range of motion), you’re wasting a lot of space and missing the point (and here’s where the analogy kind of falls apart). What’s worse, having range of motion with no accompanying strength and control (we’ll call this stability) is actually a risk factor for injury. Stiffness is often a body’s protective measure against injury. It knows it’s not safe in that range of motion, so it tells you to stay the hell away from it. When we put hours into yanking and pulling on our muscles and joints to capture an extra few inches of range of motion but don’t do anything to create stability in these ranges of motion, we put our body in situations where it’s capable of getting into positions that it doesn’t have the requisite strength to stabilize or generate force.

The trick here isn’t to stop any flexibility efforts. Because of our lifestyles (deskbound, carbound, couchbound, and hunched over a cellphone 24/7), we are much in need of additional efforts to recapture normal ranges of motion that we’ve given up over the years. But pulling on your hamstrings for 10 minutes a day isn’t enough. You need to capture that additional range of motion, and then you need to create stability and strength in that range of motion.

- Preston Sprimont


2/15/17

  • Overhead squat - 5,5,5

  • 2 rds

    • 60s max SB to shoulder (AHAP)

    • 1 min rest

    • 60s max toes to bar

    • 1 min rest

    • 60s max cal row

    • 1 min rest