Some of you know my story, but for those who don’t, here’s the short version. Until about 5 years ago, I had never played a sport or done anything athletic in my life. Then fate and good fortune took a hand. I ended up in one of Christian Roberts’ boxing classes. No one was more shocked than I was when I loved it. Up until that point it was the hardest thing I had ever done physically, (and to be honest, I was absolutely terrible at it,) but I was hooked. I took more classes. And I met a group of adventurous, awesome, tough people who talked me into joining them in training for a Spartan race.
One race led to another, and then another. Four of us decided to travel to Texas and do a Spartan Beast. And that is what led me to CrossFit 616. It was the perfect training for what I needed, but it also very quickly became home. There were a few problems, however. My lower body mobility had epic problems.
For starters, my years of avoiding all things PE meant that my mind-body connection was a bit… fuzzy. I simply didn’t know how to use my body. Even now occasionally a Coach will give me a cue and I have to admit I have no idea what they are talking about. (Never be embarrassed about asking - our Coaches are happy to explain!)
On top of that, I have always been a toe walker. I learned to walk on my tip toes. Today if a child did that they would likely get them to a physical therapist, but this was the wild 70s. Things were a little different back then. When I turned 13 and my mother bought me my first pair of heels, I never looked back. Ever hear the Southern expression, ‘the higher the hair, the closer to God’? That’s how I felt about my heels!
And finally, when I was a teenager I was in a really bad car accident. I ended up having back surgery for a ruptured disc. The back pain came back in my late 20s, and I spent a number of years figuring out how to deal with extreme sciatic pain. At one point I was so twisted up I wore a 1” lift in one shoe to try to straighten my back. Here’s a hint - my legs are the same length, it was my hips that were messed up. I finally figured out how to handle it without surgery, (and I still have a ruptured disc on L5,) but all those years of pain and contortion had taken their toll. My lower body was messed up.
How messed up?
I couldn’t squat. My squat looked more like a Good Morning. I had to do wall balls to 20” box. (Try that sometime, it's like doing them to a bar stool.) It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do, but my body was simply locked in place. Ity would not move. It was so bad that during my first CrossFit Open Brian had to cut me from a workout. Not only could I not meet standards by getting below parallel, but the even the scaled weight was pulling me so far forward that he was afraid I was going to hurt myself.
So, I became determined to get my squat back.
I gave myself 6 months to give it everything I had to get comfortable below parallel.
It took two years.
It took giving up my gorgeous shoe collection, getting dry needled, getting regular massages and seeing a physical therapist. It took two years of twice-a-week personal training sessions with Tom on my lunch hours. It took countless, countless hours of listening to podcasts while doing my mobility homework in my living room. And this is why mobility work is so important.
Look, I know it isn’t sexy. It’s the least sexy thing. Me, all I want to do is lift really heavy things. But to get the most strength, power, speed, what-have-you, you first need technique. And it order to get technique, you need your body to move well. It’s like brushing your teeth. You want to have fun and do the sexy things? Then you need to do the daily maintenance.
Mobility work can be boring (although I am happy to share my podcast list.) It’s tedious - do you know how many hours I have spent just trying to get 1 more degree of movement out of my right ankle? It hurts. (Cramps, so very many cramps.) But the important thing is - it pays off. It keeps you moving. It gives you the ability to do more. You don’t have to say, “I can’t do X” because your shoulder doesn’t move right or your hips won’t open. There are solutions. Talk to your 616 Coaches, take one of the mobility clinics. Learn what you can do to move better - and then do it, every single day. You won’t regret it.