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How can ROM make you fitter?

Range of Motion (“ROM”) is the distance through which a particular joint can be moved. Having adequate ROM throughout your body is vitally important for your heath and fitness.  Limited ROM means limited physical capability and increased risk, as you’ll compensate elsewhere in your body to try to make up for the ROM you’re missing. Improving your ROM is one of the best, fastest, and easiest things you can do to improve your athletic performance, health, and safety in and out of the gym.

CrossFit Slipstream attacks limited ROM with a combination of tools: soft tissue work, stretching, and joint mobilization.

First, understand that too much ROM is not necessarily a good thing. We can think of mobility (ROM) and stability as opposite sides of the same coin. A few “double-jointed” types have excessive mobility, and need to strengthen the relevant muscles and connective tissue to increase their stability. The great majority of us are on the other side of the coin, however, and are so stable that we can’t actually perform movements we should be able to do. So our goal in improving ROM is not to do circus tricks, but to be able to hold objects overhead without overextending the spine, or squat low to pick up objects on the ground without overflexing our spine, for example.

Related:  Why Motor Control Makes You Stronger

CrossFit Slipstream attacks limited ROM with a combination of tools: soft tissue work, stretching, and joint mobilization. Soft tissue work includes massage, trigger point work, and –our favorite– “smashing” with lacrosse balls or other tools. Its target is muscle, fascia, and other connective tissue that is restricted when it should be mobile.

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Stretching is what most people think of when they think of mobility. There are different styles, the most common being passive stretching (get into a position and hold it). This works on muscles and connective tissue to gradually improve your body’s ability to relax.

Joint mobilization recently moved out of the Physical Therapist’s office and into common use. It involves using bands or other devices to create additional tension, “distraction”, or other effects. It targets connective tissue such as our joint capsules to loosen or adjust the relative alignment of our bony structures.

Related: Bracing Sequence

Taking 15 minutes a day to improve your ROM is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your athletic performance and overall well-being. It doesn’t make you suck wind or strain to lift a weight. True, it may not be 100% pleasant, but going to the point of discomfort is all you need, not diving into the hurt locker.  At CrossFit Slipstream, we always program mobility work at the end of every class, so you can restore your mobility after your workout.

–John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

john@crossfitslipstream.com