Mobility WOD Programming 4 Life

For most of us, it’s time for a reality check.  You are not moving at your absolute peak potential.  Your tissues are glued down, laminated, and stuck together.  You do not have perfect posture.  Not at your job, not when you sleep, nor while you plays sports and exercise.  You can hope to attain perfect movement patterns, but you will never attain them at the rate you are going.  What is ideal movement/posture anyway? If you’re like most people I encounter, you need to radically change how you prepare your body for life-long functional movement, otherwise aging will be a not-so-fun process for you.

Highlighted in Becoming a Supple Leopard, Dr. Kelly Starrett estimates that 98% of the dysfunctions that lead to injuries or symptoms including pain, tightness, stiffness, soreness, numbness, tingling, and so on are due to mobility limitations!  Ninety-eight percent – that’s a sh*t-ton, like almost all of the problems that exist in the world of movement training!  The solution is simple – MOB ALL THE MUSCLES! (mob = mobe = mobilize).  Please don’t form a mob and riot against the muscles…

Dentists Got it Right

Do you wait until your teeth hurt before you start to brush them?  No, you don’t. Don’t get mad at the rhetorical question.  Get mad at the culture of medicine and doctors that didn’t teach you preventative care for the musculoskeletal system like dentists did for oral hygiene.

You see, everyone I ask that question to just rolls their eyes and nods along.  They get it, but they don’t have a solution for the human body’s movement systems like brushing their teeth and flossing.

So why is it then that we wait until our back hurts before we seek medical attention?  Why do we wait to mobilize our neck until it’s so tight we cannot turn to check our blind spot while driving?  Waiting for pain symptoms to occur and then getting treatment is like waiting until you get a cavity, get it treated, then realizing brushing/flossing might have been a good idea all along.  It’s about time we all learn how to prevent these chronic movement dysfunctions from happening

So when you do get injured, it’s obviously a great idea to seek care from a medical professional.  Have a Sports Chiro, DPT, Sports Med Ortho, or whoever you have in your ‘recovery team’ network actually provide care for your injury so that it heals faster and your symptoms go away more quickly.  These professionals are often underutilized and will like be better than doing nothing and over-the-counter or at-home remedies.  But what about after your acute injury has fully recovered and your symptoms subside?  What does your daily routine need involve in order to prevent the likelihood that you re-injure yourself or create an entirely new injury?

MobilityWOD is Actually a Workout, Stretching is Not

I have beef with the term ‘stretching’ mainly because of the assumption that most people have when they hear that word.  Most assume that stretching is done to loosen up tight muscles and that it is a passive, slow, perhaps boring activity that involves holding intense burning positions for an extended period of time.  Stretching has so many variations that the general concept outlined above misses broadside of a barn.  There’s static, dynamic, some with muscle contraction, some while getting myofasical release treatment, and some that are eccentric loading exercises!  A mobility drill is a different animal altogether.  You will be sore after doing it.  You will challenge strength and stability while simultaneously creating oscillations in stuck tissues that will unlock their chains, freeing them to enjoy a world of unrestricted movement.

Certain mobility drills are more important for some people than others. In order to solve the puzzle that is your body you want to have a blueprint for movement to figure out what it needs before starting a Mobility program.  I recommend that everyone gets a functional movement evaluation to learn what your body can do –  figure out it’s strength’s, weaknesses, where the immobile tissues are and which ones are unstable.

The place where much movement learning happens

I’ve been following for years from the advice of my friend and colleague Dr. Karo Isajan.  Recently I have been learning how he implements mWODs into the fitness routine for all of the athletes over at NorCal CrossFit.  I’ve learned a lot and have brought that experience to Silver Creek CrossFit, which is where Premiere Spine & Sport recently opened up its new satellite office.

The following is how I organize Mobility classes at Silver Creek CrossFit on a once per week time interval.  I teach them right after the 9:30am class on Saturdays.  I invite all of my patients and all of the CrossFit crew to come out and get moving!

While the class is only once per week, the purpose is to discover the mWOD drills that help you out the most so you can learn them and take them home with you to perform everyday like you brush your teeth!

Week 1:  Ankle/Lower Leg

Week 2:  Lumbo-Pelvic Hip-Complex (LPHC)

Week 3: Thoraco-Scapular Shoulder-Complex (TSSC)

Week 4:  Wrist/Forearm

After week 4 start back at week 1 and continue repeat the cycle.  Notice the symmetry between the upper and lower body – it’s a magical mirror.

Components of a Mobility Class

1)  Movement Screen (Pre-Test)

Why perform a Mobility Screen? – Because we want objective criteria to measure whether all the brutal torture we are about to subject ourselves to actually makes a difference.

Ankle/Lower Leg:  In-Line Lunge, Deep Squat, Pistol Squat

LPHC:  Deep Squat

TSSC:  Shoulder Flexion

Wrist/Forearm:  Wrist Pronation + Flexion and Wrist Supination + Extension; Rack Position

2) Self-Myofascial Release

Foam Roll

Lax Ball

Partner Mashing with Feet


Perform for at least 2 minutes per region for a therapeutic dose.  Scan all fascial chains involved with the region of the body being targeted that week.

3) Question of the Day

What’s your favorite…?  mWODs should connect groups of people – learning little details make it easier to start conversations with people you don’t know much about!  Start with fruit, sports teams, summer-time hobby, restaurants, vacation spots, pet peeves etc.  The more comfortable people are with each other the more interesting the questions get!

4) Dynamic Movement – full range of motion through targeted joints

Hold for 2 seconds max per rep.  Create full range of motion in all 3 planes of movement when possible.  For example, instead of the typical mountain climber calf stretch against the wall, add a “windshield wiper” movement of rotation to mobilize all of the medial and lateral fibers instead of just the midline fibers.  Perform for 30 seconds – 2 minutes (minimal requirement – therapeutic dose).  Each region will have 3-5 different drills performed each week.

5) Mobility Bands (Rogue Fitness Monster Bands)

Create a shearing force by wrapping  around a joint like the Tibial-Talar or Femoral-Acetabular to open up sticky bits real deep, like the joint capsule level.  Step away from an anchor point where the band is stationed further to intensify the experience.  Each region will have 2-3 different drills performed each week.

6)  Movement Screen (Post-Test)

Check out the same movements and be objective.  What do you feel?  Better, worse, or the same?  If you did things right you should feel less resistance in your movement, as if the emergency brake was on before but got taken off.  Until you open up your mobility restrictions, your perception of tension in the body is so acclimated to that elevated level of tension that it’s as if you didn’t know what the emergency brake was on in the first place!  If there’s one thing I learned from Tokyo Drift – it was how to pop that E-brake.

Goals/Purpose of Mobility WODs

1) Obtain optimal starting and finishing shapes/forms for foundational exercises and movements

2)  Teach philosophy and strategy of daily maintenance to prevent injury and optimize performance

3) Prime the nervous system as a warm-up for exercise and improve range of motion to overactive, hyper-contracted tissues.

4) Hang out with cool people – not one likes to mobilize alone (some do, it’s just not as fun and that is a scientific fact!)

Sample Photos From Thoraco-Scapular Shoulder-Complex (TSSC) Day


Lax Ball that Lat + Rotator Cuff


IMG_1375IMG_1373IMG_1374 Super-friend assisted Foam Roll T/S Extension + Monster Band Shoulder Flexion

If you want to learn more details on how to feel free from the tension that plagues everyone that fails to mobilize then get in contact with me and drop in on a mWOD class over at Silver Creek Cross Fit @1030am on Saturdays or schedule an appointment to get a functional movement screen.  I’m always happy to see new, smiling faces change to pain faces mid-mWOD 😀

dat pain face doe

Is that smile indicative of laughter or is he in utter agony?  Only the pain face knows.

Dr. Chris Baker, D.C. | Sports Chiropractor
ART/Graston/PTR Certified
RockTape Tennis Director

Premiere Spine & Sport
4982 Cherry Ave. San Jose, CA 95118
(408) 448-4445 (office) | (408) 448-4447 (fax)


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