For beginning CrossFit enthusiasts, entering into this strange, new world of high-intensity fitness can often require a completely different mental perspective. The workout routine made popular by Marines and first responders comes with a unique set of hardcore exercises that require fetes of strength and endurance. And perhaps even worse, the CrossFit community often seems to be speaking a completely different language. With terms like CrossFit mobility, flexibility, active stretching, passive stretching, and WOD, or “Workout of the Day,” many first-timers can be more than a little intimidated. However, those who remain dedicated tend to reap huge rewards in improved athletic performance.

Active vs. Passive Stretching

The term “stretching” takes on a whole new meaning in the world of CrossFit. Instead of warming up prior to a daily jog with a few simple hamstring stretches, CrossFit employs two different styles of stretching exercises performed at different points in the workout.

Active Stretching:

This technique involves slow and steady movement where we hold the end position for a significant amount of time to elongate the muscle, like the standard hamstring stretches before a morning jog. We usually perform active stretching Pre-WOD to improve CrossFit mobility for the heavy lifting that lies ahead.

Passive Stretching:

This technique involves the stretching of one muscle by contracting it against another muscle in direct opposition. Passive stretching usually involves another gym partner. An example might be when one partner pushes on the back of the other as a method of stretching the back and hamstrings. If another person isn’t available, another form of leverage can be substituted, perhaps an elastic workout strap or the leverage of holding onto another part of the body. CrossFit enthusiasts usually perform passive stretching Post-WOD to improve flexibility.

Many CrossFit trainers begin their workout routine by using a foam roller or LAX ball over areas of the body where the muscles are tight before launching into the active stretching. And some people like to mix up their Post-WOD stretching routines by including exercises from both active and passive groups. But most CrossFit experts agree that ballistic stretching, or stretches utilizing bouncy, rhythmic motions, should be avoided at all costs.

Mobility vs. Flexibility

These two terms have very different meanings. CrossFit mobility, also known as joint mobility, is the ability to move a joint through its full range of motion with maximum levels of physical control. Flexibility, on the other hand, refers to the ability to flex or extend a joint through its full range of motion. Mobility concerns muscle strength and movement. Flexibility deals with strictly muscle tissue length.

These differences in definitions are why CrossFit trainers have different stretches for different parts of the workout. The Pre-WOD active stretches focus on improving our mobility to boost strength and limber up for the full range of movement required to lift heavy weights safely and effectively. The Post-WOD passive stretches help us to improve and maintain our flexibility by helping us cool-down, restore muscle tissue, and prevent injury.

Importance of Mobility

Staying mobile and active is important for maintaining our physical, mental, and emotional fitness. For many Americans, we spend up to ten hours a day sitting at a desk and another eight to ten hours lying in bed. Meanwhile, current scientific research proves that this level of increased inactivity can easily lead to all sorts of medical disorders, including weight gain, chronic depression, heart disease, and chronic neck and back pain.

With improved CrossFit mobility and flexibility, we can substantially reduce the risks of possible injury that can be a direct result of this excessive inactivity. Everyday chores, such as lifting shopping bags from the car or moving a piece of furniture across the room, can lead to potential injury if we don’t keep physically, mentally, and emotionally fit. The high-intensity workout from CrossFit training helps boost the body, the mind, and the spirit. For more information on the many benefits of CrossFit mobility and flexibility training, contact Back Alley CrossFit today.