“With great power comes great responsibility.” -Voltaire (also Uncle Ben in Spiderman)
“With great mobility comes a necessity for great motor control” -Matta
Who knew that I had so much in common with Voltaire and Spiderman’s uncle. I’m not referencing the ability to shoot spider webs out of your wrists, which would be awesome. I’m directly reaching out to you hyper-mobile people. That means you people that love yoga, are or used to be a dancer or that could take a nap in the pigeon pose position. Training can be hard when you have too much mobility so here’s a strategy that will help.
Watch the video below and try the self tests to see if you fit in the hyper-mobility category. I'm sorry in advance for the moderately awkward guys in the video. It's the best video I could find on this test series. Not everyone can be as entertaining as Kelly Starrett I guess.
Train like a powerlifter until you are strong enough to control your own body.
This seems a bit ironic because if you have ever spent any time around power lifters you know they are not flexible. They are usually massive, love listening to Mastodon or Slip Knot and do not like yoga.
Where the power lifting community typically lacks in mobility they make up for in an obsession with creating and keeping tension. If you are trying to pull 600-1000 lbs off the ground you had better have a well organized spine.
The video below is a great example of why you need a good organization strategy before pulling heavy weight. This animal is going to pull over 1000 pounds from the ground.
I treat my hyper mobile athletes like very weak power lifters. They should focus on the big 4 lifts. Those would be the strict press, bench press, squat(specifically box squat) and deadlift.
These movements should start in a position of high stability and maintain high amounts of control and connection throughout the entire range. If you cannot control your own body in a slow controlled movement, what makes you think you can control when speed is added?
Lastly, I know people hate to hear this but sometimes you have to back off the Metcons until you have developed some strength/control. Look, I’m not telling you not to run intervals or row until you puke. What I’m saying is that until you can box squat a decent amount of weight without losing spinal control, you should not be doing 150 wall balls for time. There is no way in hell that that athlete will be able to actually control their spine.
Here's another great video from Kelly explaining the use of the box squat.
Take a step back, try this simple programming for some strength/control development. You will be better off in the long run and will improve as a CrossFit athlete going forward.
Hyper-mobile Athlete Program Block
Strict Press 3 sets of 5 reps
Strict Dips(assistance as needed) 5 sets of 10 reps
Strict Chin Ups (assistance as needed) 5 sets of 10 reps
Box Squat 3 sets of 5 reps
Split Squat 5 sets of 10 reps each leg
Single Leg Kettle Bell Deadlift 5 sets of 5 reps each leg
Bench Press 3 sets of 5 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press 5 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Row 5 sets of 10 reps
Deadlift 3 sets of 5 reps
Good Morning 5 sets of 10 reps
Hanging Leg Raise Strict 5 sets of 10 reps
Work up to a weight that you can perform but is not easy for 3 sets of 5 reps. Try and add a small amount of weight each week to your big lifts(strict press, box squat, bench press and deadlift). This could be as small as 2-5 lbs per week but the it’s important to try and increase the weight slightly each week.
It's very important to try and maintain tension during the entire range of motion in these movements. The whole point of stepping back to work on this is to re-learn how to control all of your mobility.
Perform this strength block for 6-8 weeks. Add in interval training on the rower, air dyne or running to keep your metabolic capacity from completely disappearing.
After 6-8 weeks you should have much more control of your crazy mobile body! Get back into CrossFit WODs and start setting some new PRs.
Good luck and enjoy getting a little stronger!
-Dr. Danny, PT, DPT
Where is your butt and what is it doing? This is the question I posed to a client of mine who was having some difficulty getting and keeping his pelvis in a neutral position. This particular client is on an FBI SWAT team. That, in it’s own right, gives him credibility that he’s basically a badass. Even bad asses can make simple movement errors that turn into larger scale problems!
He, like most athletes that I work with and especially tactical athletes is constantly in an overextended lower back position. Add on to that wearing body armor and sitting in cars watching drug dealers all day. That’s a perfect storm for hip and lower back dysfunction. Weird, that’s the reason he was in my office.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body. It’s primarily a hip extensor and lateral rotator. It also can be used nicely to help put our pelvis into a neutral position. This is the easiest way I have found to help athletes get out of an overextended lower back. The spine connects to the pelvis. Put the pelvis in a good position and the lower back will also end up in a good position.
Here’s a simple test. Stand up with your feet under your hips. Now squeeze your butt as hard as you can. I mean as hard as you would if someone threatened to credit card swipe you! Here’s the link to the urban dictionary definition of what Credit Card Swiping is if you don’t know. If you feel a large change in the angle of your pelvis, you are most likely living in overextension. If you have no change in your pelvis, you most likely have a neutral pelvic position, congratulations on being normal!
You have to know if you have a neutral pelvis or not. This will effect you in almost all movements you do athletically. It sure as hell dictates what your back position looks like when you squat. If you have pain when you squat, do yourself a favor and squeeze your butt before you squat. It could be the difference between pain and a PR!
-Dr. Danny, PT, DPT
Dr. Danny and staff's views on performance improvement, injury prevention, and sometimes other random thoughts.