This March, programming at Alchemy is going to be centred on mobility. I have had this idea of programming a “Movement” March or “Mobility” March for a while. The thinking behind it being that you improve strength, speed and endurance at a faster rate when you train efficient movement first rather than the other way around. I have always likened the significance of mobility training to cars (a subject which I admittedly know nothing about) saying things like, “my Hyundai Sante Fe will outperform a Ferrari with four flat tires.”
March is a great time to focus on mobility work. For one, we are in the middle of the CrossFit Open, which provides a serious dose of intensity each week. The days around the Open should be focused on recovery and reloading so that you can peak again the following week. Secondly, I’ve just completed a Functional Range Conditioning course. Implementing the principles of FRC is something I have played with over the last couple of years and now I feel confident in my ability to teach these techniques to our coaching staff, and thus to you!
The contest of the month for March will be a little different too. It will consist of a before and after movement screen, which is based loosely on the Functional Movement Screen system (come to class and you’ll hear all about it). In addition, nearly every day of the month there will be designated mobility work as well as some prerequisite tests.
Now you may hear “mobility work” and assume it’s puzzle-mat-and-relax-and-chill time; you couldn’t be more wrong. We are going to be challenging end ranges and looking to develop new control in those ranges of motion. Our lifting orientation is going to shift too. Instead of working to 1RM, lifting will lighter and at a higher volume. We’re going to focus on quality of movement and not percentages. My goal for the month is to help the greatest number of people identify where they need to improve joint health and range of motion, and then give them the tools to do that work on their own.
Think of March as a way to get back to first principles. Our bodies were designed to run, jump, hunt, fight, squat, and climb but most current lifestyles involve more walking and sitting than all other activities. Most of us can’t quit the rat race of everyday life and go live in the woods to pursue our prehistoric roots so we will have to settle for what we can do. Here is a list of things you can do on your own that will help things along a little faster:
Perform the CARs Morning Routine
This is the base of the Functional Range Conditioning pyramid and you will be going through all of these movements in class this month. This is the starting point for getting your joints moving and takes about 10 minutes each day. Do it first thing when you wake up! Here’s a video that takes you through it.
Avoid repetitive stresses
For most of us, the greatest repetitive stress on the body is the number of hours we must remain sitting. Combat this stress by standing up and moving in your job as often as you can. If you’re not a big sitter then address other repetitive movement patterns in your life.
Don’t wear shoes or socks at home
Your feet should be as sensitive and alive to your surroundings as your hands — give them the opportunity to interact with your environment and you’ll find your balance, control and strength increase as well as your awareness of those features. Here’s an exercise you can do while you brush your teeth: While standing, spread your toes as far apart as possible. Once they’re spread, use them to grip the ground as hard as you can.
Movement March is all about moving wisely and well and awakening awareness of movement patterns that contribute to healthy function. Think of it as the springtime base for a strong summer.
Duncan McNeill is a coach and co-owner of Alchemy CrossFit.