At some point or another in our crossfit journeys, we have attempted mobility work with a foam roller or a lacrosse ball. And, far too often, we don’t do enough of the right things to really make a lasting positive change. Mychael of Elite Functional Fitness has a plan to fix this problem. His plan follows three simple steps – SMR (Self-Myofascial Release with a foam roller/lacrosse ball), Stretch, then Stabilize. (He covers this in his post from April 2015 – “How to structure mobility.“)
First, the SMR. This step focuses on releasing the tension in the area you are trying to affect. By relaxing the affected muscle area we can enable ourselves to get a better stretch and improve our range of motion with those muscles. SMR should positively change the restrictions that build up in the fascia.
What is fascia? Fascia is the connective tissues beneath the skin that separate different layers. These layers separate muscles and other internal organs from one another. Sometimes restrictions are formed in the fascia by trauma, inflammation, or surgery, which cause mobility or range of motion problems and even pain. By reducing these restrictions with SMR you can reduce soreness, improve range of motion, relax muscle groups, and more.
Once you’ve done some SMR to reduce those fascia restrictions, you can shift to the next step – stretching! Stretching helps elongate muscles and enable them to move in a wider range of motion. By stretching you continue the work done with SMR, improving tissue recovery and reducing soreness, range of motion, and so on.
And lastly, you want to stabilize those newly flexible muscles to use their new range of mobility and function. This is more about the movement and less about speed or strength at this point – you don’t want to damage these areas or push too hard, too fast.
Mychael offers a top to bottom example:
- SMR – relax the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, and upper trapezius
- Stretch – focus on stretching the chest and upper traps
- Stabilize – move through the Turkish get-up for movement, not weight
You could obviously apply this approach anywhere in the body, but it definitely gets you beyond the “it hurts here, I’ll foam roller/lacrosse ball the area and it’ll be better” approach many of us use regularly!
Check out the Elite Functional Fitness blog for the original post – How to structure mobility. He offers a few more specifics plus some links to explore for more information.
There are quite a few good resources on the web about mobilizing. MobilityWOD and ROMWOD have captured a lot of different movements and ideas for more general consumption. (Ridds’ recent article “ROMWOD vs. Yoga” offers another perspective and Mychael offered one recently with “Elite Functional Fitness is NOT ROMWOD.”) But definitely have an idea of what you’re trying to achieve before you just dive in.
I definitely recommend you chat with Mychael or a trainer about the best ways to improve mobility with SMR, Stretching, and Stabilizing. We may know where we think it hurts, but they can probably offer some good ideas on how to make it better in the short term and improve it for the long-term. Use your local resources!!