CrossFit is known for its dynamic workouts and heavy lifts. However, in order to increase your effectiveness and abilities when performing CrossFit-type movements, you must increase your mobility.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to most CrossFitters — programs like mobilityWOD and RomWod are common jargon in most boxes and most dedicated athletes at some point or another have run into mobility issues. Flexibility is one of the 10 general principles of fitness.
We’ve got 21 of our favorite quick and easy mobility exercises and stretches to try the next time you’re getting ready to kick ass in your WOD or when you need some thorough recovery stretching.
Before Your WOD
1. Samson Stretch
The Samson stretch is a common stretch to open up your hips and get your hip flexors primed and ready for muscle contracting action. If you’re concerned about doing a static stretch before a workout, you can add a walking element to the Samson stretch or do deep lunges instead.
2. Pigeon Stretch
This stretch is great for hips and legs. For a video demonstration of how to complete a proper pigeon stretch, click here.
3. Back and Hip Extensions
Back and hip extensions are done using the GHD machine and are great for loosening up your back and core muscles. For videos on how to correctly perform a back and hip extension, click here.
4. Hip Hinges
Hip hinges are great to practice to warm up your core and hips, especially ahead of lifts. To do hip hinges, wrap a band around the bottom half of a rig pole and step inside it.
Once you have the band around you, stand on your knees and scoot forward enough that there is no slack in the band. If you want to make this mobility exercise more difficult, scoot forward so that the band is actually pulling against you.
Engage your core muscles and keeping your back flat and your shoulders back, bend slowly at the waist. Then, using your core muscles, particularly your glutes, pull yourself back into the upright position.
5. Pass Throughs
Pass throughs are a great way to warm up your shoulders before a workout. Grab a PVC pipe and grip it above your head using a snatch grip.
Once you’ve got it in the overhead position, slowly rotate the pipe down to your hips and then back up over your head and around to your bottom for one complete repetition. If you have issues getting the pipe over your head, try widening your grip. Do these at a slow or moderate pace to get your shoulders and lats ready to go.
Not only do these feel great, but they’re a great way to get your core muscles warmed up and ready to go ahead of a heavy lifting session. Want to add even more dimension to this movement? Perform it with a PVC pipe locked out overhead.
7. Pry Squat
This mobility exercise is a great way to open up your hips and get your posterior chain activated prior to lifting or doing anything that involves squats.
Sit into a squat and place your elbows on the inside of your knees. Use your arms to press your knees out as far as you can while still maintaining a tight core and proper squat form. Repeat several times to get your hips extra loosey-goosey.
8. Classic Calf Mobilization
This stretch is perfect to do ahead of pistols and squats.
To begin, take your foot and press it up against the wall or the rig or whatever you are using to brace yourself during this stretch. Your toes should be pointed upwards and your heel should still be on the ground.
Chances are you’re already feeling this stretch in your calves. To enhance the stretch and really get your ankles in on it as well, start slowly pushing your knee forward without moving the rest of your legs.
9. Double-Leg Plantarflexion
If you’ve done a lot of running or pistols and want a great way to feel the stretch through the fronts of your legs and your ankles, this stretch is perfect. Start in the seated position with your legs folded under your knees and lean back slowly, keeping your back flat and using your hands for support.
10. Dead Bug
This is another pose borrowed from yoga. It’s great for stimulating your ab muscles and getting your core warmed up and ready to go.
Although there are several variations, the most basic dead bug in CrossFit requires you to lay flat on your back on the floor. Engage your core muscles, point your rib cage down and take deep breaths from your diaphragm. Then, lift your feet off the floor and hold your legs in a bent position, with your knees at a 90 degree angle.
For more variations or to create a bigger challenge, check out this link.
After Your WOD
11. Child’s Pose
Mmmm, nothing feels better after almost dying in a WOD than collapsing on the floor into child’s pose. Sure, it’s supposed to be more glamorous than that, but most nights at 7:30 you can find me in this position trying to catch my breath while enjoying a massive endorphin rush.
Child’s pose is a great cool down position that will also stretch your shoulders and lats. For more of a stretch, try placing your arms to the left of the center of your body and holding and then moving them to the right.
12. Downward Dog
This classic yoga pose is great for stretching…well, just about everything. However, keep it in mind when you’re experiencing lower back pain or tightness in your hamstrings or quads.
Try to push your heels back into the ground , but keep your arch wide enough that you aren’t in significant pain. No one wants a muscle tear while stretching!
13. Spinal Flossing
During this movement, it’s important to keep your lower back on the ground with your core tight and completely engaged.
This movement is great for working our your lower back and lower hips after a brutal workout or some heavy lifting.
14. Banded Hip Opener Series
Tight hips? Not anymore. This banded hip opener series feels AMAZING after pretty much anything, but especially squats, wall balls, GHDs and lots of running.
In all positions, the goal is to keep your leg straight, meaning you may not be able to pull your leg as far back or as far over as some of your friends. Don’t worry about it. Instead, enjoy the ahhhhh of that tightness leaving your body.
15. Wall Sits
These are great because you can do them literally anywhere.
Keep your core engaged and your lower back flat on the ground while pressing the backs of your legs into the wall. Enjoy a lovely hamstring and calf stretch that doesn’t require a whole lot of work on your part!
16. Couch Stretch
This exercise can be performed using a weight bench or up against a wall depending on your level of flexibility. This mobility movement is super diverse — expect to stretch your hips, your calves, your hamstrings, your glutes and even your ankles.
Want to stretch your shoulders as well? Reach back and grab your foot and then face forward.
17. Shoulder Stretch w/ Kettle Bell and Foam Roller
Feeling a lot of tightness in your delts and around your scapulas? Grab a foam roller and a kettle bell.
When you’re setting up for this stretch, place the foam roller underneath your shoulder blades and perform a glute bridge while you’re reaching for your kettle bell.
When you’re ready to stretch, drop those hips and pull your head through and prepare to be amazed. Hold this position for five seconds and then return to your glute bridge position, repeating two or three times for maximum shoulder mobility.
18. Spiderman Pose
Do you want to open your hips while simultaneously saving New York City? Well, I can’t help you there, but we can pay tribute to our favorite NYC superhero while getting our hip flexion on with this awesome pose.
19. Wrist Extension
There are lots of CrossFit movements that can make our wrists and forearms tight — everything from farmer’s carries to kettle bells and snatches.
When your forearms feel like they’re filled with concrete, give this simple stretch a try to relieve some tension in those arms.
20. Bully Extension Bias
Grab a band and use the rig to stretch out those shoulders after your WOD.
Start by facing the rig and grasping the band in your hand. Then, turn the opposite direction of the arm you’re stretching — turn right if you’re stretching your left shoulder — around into the band.
21. Super Front Rack
These are great for when you’ve been doing a lot of kipping movements and you want to stretch that lower arm, armpit and chest area.