How to be a more useful human being

One of my biggest weaknesses as a coach is my tendency to explain the reasons behind certain performance cues. I don’t want to just tell you to ‘keep your heels on the ground,’ I want you to understand the reasons why I’m asking you to do this. That’s because I find the mechanics of the human body fascinating — how it coordinates signals from our brain into movement in our bodies, and how our tissues carry out these functions so naturally.

My interest in healthy movement is probably one of the reasons why I love CrossFit as a training paradigm.  In its purest form, CrossFit should be about developing great movement and layering in general physical preparedness.  A great CrossFitter should be more confident in a broader range of activities, or in other words, a more useful, functional human being.

I can’t help but nerd out when it comes to sharing what I know or have learned —  especially around the concept of mobility. The ability to move freely and easily is, in my opinion, the greatest predictor of a person’s ability to remain independent and active as they age. If you are able to move your neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, spine, hips, knees, ankles, and toes (among some other not-so-obvious joints) through a full expression of movement, it’s likely that’ll you require little to no assistance to move through your day-to-day tasks.  So treat your warm-up and cool down as seriously as you treat your strength and intensity components. It may just turn out that every Ostrich Walk and Bear Crawl you do may add some years of independence to your life!

It’s not just people over the age of 30 who have to think about their mobility. There are way too many people in their 20s who have limited mobility, too. That’s because we’re a largely sedentary culture and many of the movements we perform each day are repetitive: we sit, we type, we text, we stop running, jumping and playing like kids, and the consequence of all that is that slowly we lose our mobility.

But we don’t have to lose it. If you come to Alchemy with any regularity, you’ve been introduced to a number of stretches and dynamic movements that will improve your mobility, and most of you are familiar with how to use lacrosse balls or foam rollers for soft tissue work. (If you want to know my favourites, you can check out this blog I wrote on the topic a while back.)

But foam rolling and pigeon pose are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to increasing and maintaining mobility. In fact, there’s a whole wide world of techniques and philosophies to discover out there. Here are a few of my favourite fellow mobility-obsessed people to follow on Instagram to help broaden your horizons.

drandreospina:  Creator of Functional Anatomy Seminars and Function Range systems.

Dr. Andreo Spina’s thoughts on human movement just make so much sense. The systems he has developed to increase healthy, strong range of motion have been proven incredibly effective and adopted by many professional sports organizations.

woddoc: A source of super-practical mobility information.

The WOD doc will tell you all the reasons why texting is bad for your body and even answer questions like “what is a good calf mobilization?” It’s an excellent resource for a variety of concerns.

primalmovers: This one will be a little out there for some of you, but let your initial reaction pass and you’ll begin to see its benefits.

It may look like Tom Mounty is just frolicking in the  forests of Norway, but there’s so much more going on, including practical information on breathing, connectivity and spirit and how they apply to healthy human movement.


Have I got you interested in mobility, yet? Great!

Then don’t miss our upcoming seminar on Flexibility and Mobility with Rob Pretorious ( robtorius;

The seminar is on Dec. 2 and will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost: $100 (before Oct. 28 and $120 after that date).

Some of the topics covered will include:

Soft tissue preparation

Movement Nutrition

The Role of the Nervous system

Breath Work

Isometric, active, dynamic stretching protocols


I invite you to check it out. It promises to be an amazing experience!


Duncan McNeill is a coach and co-owner at Alchemy CrossFit.

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