Top 5 Functional Movement List For Crossfit Workouts

June 4, 2010

Yes, Crossfit is a workout with many raving fans and yes it can kick your ass pretty good. And yes, you can get hurt doing it if you do not take the time to assess proper movement in 5 essential areas. Crossfit has some very cool and unique training programs that are rooted in some base foundational exercises which stress all the vectors of human movement. Theses 5 vectors are:

  1. Pushing
  2. Pulling
  3. Rotation
  4. Level Changes
  5. Locomotion

Now most people who begin an exercise program or want to step it up and train even harder, do not have adequate mobility (movement) in their joints and even less stability (controlling movement). We are a very sedentary culture sitting on our butts all day, so in essence our butt becomes our feet. This leads to tightness, restrictions and compensations. Because of this fact compensations and quality of movement suffer in order to reach a quantity of movement (reps/sets/tempo). This applies to all forms of intense exercise, not just Crossfit. I talk about Crossfit because I like the program and people really move during a workout and that’s a good thing. But I want to make sure they can keep working out without injury, and also increased performance. If you move smarter…then you move better…then you perform great.

Ok so what are the Top 5 Movements?

  1. Proper ankle Mobility — Now this is a big one. If the ankle is restricted in movement there will be massive compensations up the chain of joints and muscles. Try doing massive squat reps with a locked down ankle and your knee and back will pay the price. The knee should go 4 inches out over the toe if the ankle moves well when assessing movement. Click here to do my favorite Ankle Mobility Drill. Mobility Drill
  2. Hip Mobility — Locked down hips are a huge problem for most people. Locked down means stuck. Th hip is supposed to be very mobile. If it locks down the knee and back become less stable and get injured. But you never feel pain in the hip. Internal rotation is the vector that is lost the most. Every person who works out must have hip motion assessed. i see high end athletes who look awesome and they cannot move their hips. Can you say compensations. Click here to see my favorite hip mobility stretch: Hip Stretch
  3. Thoracic Spine Mobility — Lack of rotation and extension in the thoracic spine can kill a shoulder. It is actually one of the top reasons for chronic shoulder pain because of the lack of stability in the shoulder blade from faulty mechanics of the T-spine. One of the most powerful things you can do to help with upper body power and motion is the tennis ball technique which I will show you. Think about how many overhead presses, cleans, snatches and shoulder moves you to with a workout. If your T-spine is locked down….kiss that shoulder and neck goodbye soon. Tennis Ball Secret
  4. Upper Cervical Fascia — The soft tissue connective tissue in your body called fascia can cause many chronic pains if it is too tight or restricted. One very common place for this is at the back of the skull. Rub behind your neck right now and I bet it will be pretty tender. This tightness or pulling affects your line of site since it pulls the head back, this causes a compensation of rounded shoulders and mid-back humping. It is very important to have adequate movement in the neck. Ty this test. Keep your mouth closed and teeth together. Can you touch your chin to chest? Look up to the ceiling, is your face within 10 degrees of being parallel to the ceiling? Can you touch your chin to each collar bone without raising your shoulders? DO any of these moves hurt? If you have pain or cannot get full motion in these areas, you have dysfunctional movement. An injury may be headed your way.
  5. Plantar Fascia  — The bottom of your foot (plantar) is full of soft tissue fascia. If it is tight or restricted you will be tight all the way up the back of your leg into the back and even neck. This is one of the most powerful areas to look at for movement. The foot is the foundation of everything. Try this: Roll a golf ball on the bottom of both feet. Is it tender? You should roll a golf ball on your feet daily for several minutes regardless of tenderness. It only makes you better.

Ok, there ya have it. These are just a few of the things I teach in my upcoming book on Recovery, Regeneration and Performance Enhancement. Little things make a big difference. learn to move better and I guarantee you will look better too. Feel free to contact me anytime via my website or facebook Fanpage page. Both key worded as ‘Stop Chasing Pain.’ have fun moving!!! Now go Crossfit with proper movement.

Perry Nickelston, DC, SFMA