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Bobby MD back at it again!

Wrist Mobility: Why It’s Important + 8 Exercises to Improve It

Box Life Magazine

How’s your front rack position? Do you wince with pain in your wrists when the barbell forces them back, swing a kettlebell overhead, or even try to complete several push-ups in a row? I’m sure you are not alone. In fact, I’d wager that almost every CrossFitter has experienced some sort of wrist pain in their training career. There’s a reason why CrossFitters and Olympic Weightlifters alike invest in wrist wraps and straps. The amount of stress and tension being placed on the wrists from heavy weight can create a lot of pain, and when combined with a lack of attention to the flexibility of the joint (not to mention working at an office where you are required to use the computer all day) this can quickly lead to poor wrist mobility, an inability to get into the front rack position—thereby limiting one’s capability to execute a lift—and the risk of creating further damage and injury.

The wrist sounds pretty important now doesn’t it? Let’s negate this crucial joint no longer and focus on how we can keep our wrists healthy so as not to affect our performance at the box—not to mention our quality of life outside it.

The Wrist Joint
The wrists are a complex joint full of bone, ligaments, connective tissue, muscles and nerves. It also has multiple ranges of movement—flexion and extension (moving the palm backward or forward relative to the forearm), adduction and abduction (moving the hand from side to side). Compare this to the movement of, for example, the knee joint, which only has flexion and extension. It also marks the area of transition between the forearm and the hand—so the health of the wrist can directly impact your grip strength (more on that later). 

Another thing to consider is that if we lack motion at the wrist, we’ll try to make the motion up at the shoulder and elbow. Conversely, if we lack shoulder mobility, we’ll try to make it up at the elbow and wrists. It is therefore just as important to focus on scapular and shoulder mobility as it is on the wrist, as the two are interconnected and focusing on one may not alleviate the problem for the other. As an example, in the catch phase of a clean, we need to have adequate wrist extension, forearm pronation and external rotation of the shoulder to allow us to receive the bar on the front of the shoulders and fingertips. Ideally, one would have enough mobility to keep a closed grip on the bar with the elbows high and the bar resting on the shoulders. However, when attempting a heavy clean (and jerk) this is pretty hard to do, which is why you usually see Olympic lifters bounce the bar of their shoulders and re-grip the bar when they come out of the hole before attempting the jerk. If the wrists are stiff or weak, this will place additional stress on the structures of the joint and down the front of your forearm. As such, we need to address these two elements (wrist mobility and strength) through proper exercises and stretching.

Wrist mobility/strength exercises
It should be noted that a major factor in keeping the wrists healthy and executing a lift properly is utilizing proper technique. This includes employing the right grip, aligning the body correctly and having a good bar path. Staying on top of your lifting form can go a long way in alleviating some of the work placed on the poor ol’ wrists. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend a good amount of time working on the mobility of your wrists every day. We use these suckers more than we realize, and it’s really no wonder that people can develop arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome (a condition in which there is excessive pressure on the median nerve, which allows feeling and movement to parts of the hand) if they don’t take care of them. As I hope I have emphasized, they are crucially important in CrossFit, so start incorporating them into your mobility warm-up. Here are a few exercises/stretches to get you started:

1. Wrist Rotations. This is very basic. Wrap your fingers together and move your wrists around in every possible direction. Hold any position that feels a little tender/limited for a few seconds. Repeat often throughout the day.

2. Prayers. Stand up and place your hands together in front of you, as if in prayer. Maintaining contact between your hands, lower them. Go as far as you can. The longer you can keep your hands together, the better you’ll stretch the wrists. At the bottom, reverse things so that your fingers point downward and your hands remain together. Come back up.

3. Static Holds. Pull your wrist back into extension and/or flexion and hold for at least 20-30 seconds.

4. Planche pushup position. Get into a plank position (elbows fully extended at the top of the push up). Turn your hands inward so your fingertips are pointing toward your toes. Keeping a rigid torso, shift your body forward so you have an angle from your shoulders to wrists. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds (or as long as you can bear) and repeat. If this is too intense, drop down to your knees and complete.

5. Wrist walks. Place your palms on a wall, with your arms straight and fingers pointing to the ceiling. Keeping contact with the wall, walk your hands down the wall. Go as far down as possible without letting your palms come off the wall. Once you reach the point where you can’t walk your hands down any farther, turn your hands around so your fingers are now pointing to the floor. Walk your wrists back up the wall as far upward as possible. Repeat.

6.Front squat rack position. If you have pain when trying to hold a front rack position, or can’t even get into it in the first place, you need to get your wrists working through the range of motion required for the front squat. Even though it’s your shoulders holding the bar in place rather than your wrists, you still need good wrist mobility to get the bar sitting correctly on top of your shoulders in the first place. Load a bar on a desired rack setting. Set up in a rack position, with your elbows pointing as far forward as possible and weight sitting on your shoulders. Pick up the bar and rotate your elbows forward, then re rack the bar. Repeat this process until you see a change in your rack position.

7. Ring push-ups. A great exercise to work on wrist stability, as well as stability through the elbow, shoulder and core. Adjust the height of the rings appropriate for your fitness level (the lower the rings the more difficult the exercise). Grip the rings, keep your body straight and your legs fully extended behind you. Slowly lower yourself down towards the floor. Pause at the bottom then push yourself back up to the starting position. Do not lock out your elbows to maintain tension throughout the muscles during the exercise. Repeat.

8. Double kettlebell rack walk. Take a kettlebell in each hand. Lift the kettlebells up under your chin so that your palms and your wrists are facing each other. The kettlebells should be resting on your shoulders and upper arms. Begin walking forward and hold the kettlebells at the same position the whole time. Continue for the desired amount of time or distance.

These are just a few exercises to get you started, but I hope you now understand how vital the wrists are in CrossFit and how underappreciated they are. It doesn’t take much effort to work on them—you could do them at work if needs be. Which reminds me, make sure that if you do work on the computer a lot that your wrists are in a neutral position when typing. Just another helpful adjustment that can do wonders for the health of the joint. So, no more ignoring the wrists! They should now be the first thing you target for every mobility session.

barbells

In recognition and support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this Friday, October 20th, Crossfit Factory Square will be hosting our annual Barbells For Boobs fundraiser!

For those who don’t know, Barbells for Boobs® is a 501(c)3 nonprofit breast cancer organization dedicated to the early detection of breast cancer, with an emphasis on women under the age of 40 and men. They believe that everyone has a RIGHT to know if they are living with breast cancer.  All funds collected from Barbells for Boobs events will contribute to support their nationwide grant program. Although not all of their work can be measured, the Impact from their Grant Program can. To date, they have provided 38,517 procedures, served 20,530 individuals and detected 271 cases of breast cancer.

Together as a community we have already raised over $2,000 towards this years fundraising event! Donations can be made directly online here or in person on Friday. Space is still available if you are interested in registering – you may do so online here. All ages and abilities are welcome to participate. The event starts with the Kids Heat at 6:15 PM with adult heats directly following. Don’t forget to wear pink! Spectators are welcome to come as well!

After the event our very own Box Bistro will be serving up two types of chili to keep everyone warn and fueled! Paleo beef chili over butternut squash and green tortilla chicken chili over basmati rice. Kid portions will be available as well! Box Bistro will be serving at 8:00 once everyone is finished working out. You can preorder online here or purchase the night of. As an added bonus this year Athleta will be at our event from 6-9 PM with items available for order/purchase and giving out prizes to the best dressed teams! Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

REMINDER – This Saturday morning from 10-11 Paul Poutouves will be hosting an additional mobility class at Factory Square.

 

Common Snatch Mistakes & How to Correct Them

By Daniel Camargo

 As complicated as Olympic weightlifting movements may seem, they really are simple. Some athletes might disagree when I say that the snatch is easier to learn than the clean and jerk. Why? Because they don’t feel a sense of control with their center of gravity.

 

Remember, an object’s center of gravity isn’t the ‘center’ of the object, but rather the point where the object can be balanced. As it relates to your body and the barbell during a lift, your center of gravity (or weight distribution) will always shift towards whichever is heavier. So when the bar is light, the center of gravity shifts towards your body. However, when the bar has heavy load, it will move towards the barbell. This is why it takes strength, coupled with speed, to keep us from leaning forward during these lifts. The overhead movement in the snatch challenges our sense of balance.

Let’s break down some common mistakes, to help you find the joy in the snatch.

Mistake #1: Jumping forward
The most common mistake athletes make.
When performing the snatch your feet can do one of two things: stay in one spot or hop back a little—and I mean a little; given that we receive the bar just behind our heads, moving back may be natural. What you should never do is jump forward, breaking the frontal plane. Doing so makes the bar feel heavier—and much harder to chase.

3 times you might make the mistake of jumping forward:

1. During liftoff, because you are: a) distributing your weight onto your toes in your initial pull as a result of bending your elbows early, your knees being too far forward, or no core activation; or b) not completely active— allowing your hips to rise prior to the bar leaving the ground, which may cause you to lean forward. Whether it’s weight distribution to the toes or fast hips shooting up, any forward movement at this stage of the lift throws you off course– making you jump forward even if the rest of your technique is spot on.

Corrections & Cues

  • Drive your heels into the floor when picking up the bar. Though you can set up on mid-foot, once you start lifting do not lean back—keep your weight on your heels.
  • Remember to move your hips at the same time as you move the bar. Your hips shooting up faster will cause you to lean forward.
  • Keep your chest up as you lift and focus on a spot right in front or slightly above your line of sight, to ensure you stay on your heels.

2. During the transition, because you are: shifting your hips too far into the bar; or simply shifting your weight to your toes too early during the transition, therefore having to jump forward to catch the bar. Remember, the bar must come back into your body, not your body into the bar.

Corrections & Cues

  • Practice hang snatches—specifically mid-hang (above knee) and high-hang (mid quadriceps). Starting from the hang will force you to use proper mechanics.
  • Practice romanian deadlifts to work the posterior chain and focus on proper heel distribution at a slower pace than that of the snatch.
  • Have a coach cue you to delay your jump (triple extension aka 2nd pull) and to be patient during your transition. Don’t rush. Trust the movement.

3. During the 2nd pull, because you are: not keeping the bar close to your body. You keep control of the bar the closer to you it is. If the bar hits your hips the contact should be up not out.

Corrections & Cues

  • Practice the power position snatch—it’s fastest way to fix this mistake. You’ll find it nearly impossible to do this lift right if you are letting the bar out too far.
  • You can also try dip snatches and high pulls.
  • Have a coach cue to you to remain vertical, to aim for your chin and to use more leg drive rather than hips. Less hips, more legs.

Mistake #2: Bending your arms
During the snatch, bending your arms too soon can result in a loss of power. Some tension and slight bending of the arm is okay if you keep that bend all the way into the receiving position. The wrong type of ‘arm bending’ is when you straighten your arms during the jump, and bend them a second time. This bend, straighten, then re-bend is what causes a loss of velocity. Either the bar will slow down or you will develop a hitch at the hips and stop.

Corrections & Cues

  • Don’t worry about your arms. Focus on the power position and using your legs. Athletes sometimes bend their arms to generate velocity and explosion but that’s exactly what the power position will do for you.
  • Practice power position snatches to get the feel of proper leg explosion without using your arm. Focus on your legs.
  • Use blocks. Starting high without any preloading of the legs, as in a hang, will help you focus on the lower body doing more work.

Mistake #3: Not getting under the bar
For those learning the snatch, getting under the bar is crucial. For many it’s a matter of fear, but for others it’s a matter of mobility. Once you overcome your hurdle, the goal is to get comfortable down there. You don’t have to hit the bottom, but the further you get the better. Newer athletes tend to focus on getting the bar overhead whereas the experienced athletes focus on dropping under. It does you no good to have a massive pull of the bar if it’s not coupled with the ability to get under it. It’s a two part equation. Having one without the other will limit you. Lastly, when you get into that overhead squat position you must stay tight. As USA Weightlifting says: “all body levers must be tight.” It’s a wasted effort to have perfect technique yet lose an attempt because you loosen up at the bottom.

Corrections & Cues

  • Practice the simplest drill there is: overhead squats.
  • Try snatch balances to help you drop under further and drop snatches to teach you how to receive the bar in the most advanced way.
  • Have a coach cue you to turnover hard; to remind you there is nothing to fear. You have to commit, not hesitate and believe. You will get it.
  • Remember to stay tight and fight while under the bar. Don’t get lazy at the bottom. The lift isn’t over until you stand back up.
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Don’t forget to register for Barbells For Boobs!! Register by October 11th to get a shirt! Register HERE.

 

 “Rest-Day Recommendations” by Abi Reiland – The Box Magazine

For those addicted to the rigorous activity a CrossFit workout offers, a sense of boredom can become a rest-day damper. That feeling in the back of your head that you just can’t shake, like you’re missing out on something that will make you a better athlete and potentially improve your speed or strength or stamina. It’s enough to send some people into a panic. But truth be told, rest days are an imperative part of fitness. An athlete can only go so long before his body rebels in a dire attempt to recover. Varying the way in which you rest gives your body some time to recuperate while keeping your mind at ease. Here are my rest-day recommendations.

– Consequences of not taking rest days. –
Unless you’re an alien life form (or Rich Froning), your body needs a break. CrossFit’s structured beatings actually break down muscle in an attempt to build it back up, but if that rest period isn’t put into place, the breakdown begins to hinder development. Fatigue, strength losses and injury are all major concerns when an athlete is too active at an intense and demanding level. And overtraining will not only hinder your physical abilities but also have a detrimental effect on your mental state. Digressing is never an experience athletes embrace. When your body won’t operate up to your standards, the mind takes a toll as well. Frustration, irritability and lack of concentration rear their ugly heads in cases of physical and mental exhaustion. So do everybody a favor and take a day off.

– When to take rest days. –
Many trainers will suggest rest days be scheduled every 4th day. 3 days on, 1 day off, repeat. For folks with a little flexibility in their schedule, this is a fantastic option and ensures your body is allowed some relaxation. However, for those who have a set schedule that binds them to particular days and availability, 2 days rest per week is a respectable regimen. For personalities that prefer predictable structure, those days can be set. Perhaps every Thursday and Sunday you take a day off. Personally, I listen to my body. If I feel great, I’m going to workout. And if I’m feeling run down or extra sore, I might lay low for that day. Develop a rest strategy that works for you and your fitness goals, and as your athleticism progresses, adjust accordingly. Just be sure you recognize the messages your body sends you to avoid overdoing it.

– How to spend rest days. –
There is no right way to spend a rest day. If the couch is calling your name, pop in a couple movies, eat a bag of M&Ms and enjoy the lethargy. But to ease your tight muscles and maximize your recovery results, take a lightly active approach. I like to treat my rest days as a form of therapy for any aches, so I try to incorporate stretching, light cardio, or maybe yoga. And to spice things up, it’s always fun to throw in some adventurous activities like hiking, swimming or a day of retail therapy with some speed-walking and light lifting at the mall. Get your heart rate up, work on some mobility and break a small sweat. Seems only fitting given the fact that CrossFit embraces constant variation. And after some rehab, back to business.

The addiction to your newfound fitness is inevitable. But exhibit some common sense and caution to maintain the health you so desire. Going overboard will do you more harm than good and will sabotage your mission for a stronger, faster, fitter you. Your body gives you everything it’s got in a workout, so return the favor and learn to embrace your rest days, regardless of when and how you spend them.

barbells

Registration for Barbells For Boobs is now open! Register Here. Save the Date: Friday, October 20th

There comes a point in our training where one day you could be post workout rolling out on the floor, still somehow out of breath, wondering what in the heck you are doing and how you got there. It’s very easy to get in to a routine. Before we know it days, weeks, months start to pass us by. We get wrapped up in the lifts, the wods, going through lifting and conditioning cycles. . . so many little things to make up the big picture.Then suddenly you’re back on the floor rolling out again wondering what’s next? Sometimes all we need is a little fire in us.

This is something as easy as the first time you even had the thought to start crossfit. . . it’s to do something out of your comfort zone. Something to challenge you to the point where you are astonished in yourself once you succeed. It’s the fire in your eyes to continue your search to better yourself. If you find yourself getting frustrated or angry in your performance lately, believe it or not, that can be a good thing! Means you still care and that Crossfit/lifting is just as important to you as it was when you first started.

Now let us take that fire within us and use it. For the month of October, I challenge each and every one of you to do something out of your comfort zone. Take the plunge and sign up for that competition. Go hike that mountain that has been calling your name for a few years now, that you just haven’t had the time to go hike. Pick a movement that you need to work on and dedicate 5 minutes before or after class, 3 times a week, to do some accessory work for said movement. Do something to challenge yourself and watch everything around you grow. Over time, even the smallest amount of effort will prove to be beneficial. We can never expect ourselves to grow if we don’t do anything to help promote it in the first place.

 

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