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Does your low back hurt? Do you spend time foam rolling your spine and trying to upward dog the ache out of it? The other day, my low back was all kinds of fired up (return to real WOD’ing after 9 months of sitting will do that).  The very first thing I did before my workout was a whole bunch of hip mobility and stretching (hip flexors and hamstrings). Low and behold – pain/discomfort gone! Loose hips, happy back.

To put it most simply, when we sit for extended periods our hip flexor muscles shorten/tighten – they’re essentially in a stagnant state of flexion, without adequate extension to full ROM (standing). If we don’t stretch them back out properly, they can pull on other connected parts of our body (think groin, low back, hamstrings) and cause strains and injury.

A little more complex: the most major of the hip flexor muscles – the psoas – runs from your femur (top of your thigh bone), through your pelvis, and attaches around the back to vertebrae in your lumbar spine (L1-L5) and T12 in your low back. The iliopsoas is the combo of the psoas and the iliacus, a smaller muscle attached to the pelvis and groin. These two together are primarily responsible for your hip flexion. Along with a bunch of other muscles (think adductors), they are how we hinge at the hip, lift our legs walking, running and jumping, etc.

To recap: Sitting for a long time AND lots of exercising with minimal stretching (AHEM, we are looking at many many of you), can lead to locked up/tight psoas and pain in surrounding areas. Quick stretching or more sitting (GASP!) may give you temporary respite, but for long-term progress, pain relief and injury prevention, you gotta work.

What to do: Aside from sitting as little as possible (we know, not realistic)…

  • Pre-Warm-up: Foam rolling, though NOT your low back. Instead, roll the parts of the body that release tightness in the low back, like your hip flexors and glutes.
  • If you still feel tightness/low back pain after your warm up, let a coach know and run through some of the below stretches/yoga poses pre-WOD.
  • Post-WOD: We always recommend at LEAST 5 minutes of static stretching post-WOD. If you are out of time in the hour you’re at the gym, there’s always the living room floor in front of the TV…

Couch Stretch (Daily!) (Kelly Starrett; not just potential help for hip/low back, but also quads and runner’s knee AKA patella tendinitis). Try to get your back leg perpendicular to the wall. Front leg at 90 degrees to start; once in position, move around in the stretch. Squeeze your glutes and abs. Hold for 1 minute each side and repeat.

couch1

Couch2

Basic Hip Flexor Stretch (Breaking Muscle): Start with your legs at 90 degree angles with ruler or barbell lined up at your front shin. Lean into the front leg, sinking your hips down, pushing the front knee just beyond 90 degrees. Hold 1 minute, at least, each side.

Frog Pose (Daily Burn): Great for hips, groin, inside of thighs. Start in tabletop. Walk knees out to the side as wide as is comfortable; ankles should be in line with knees, feet turned out. Bring forearms and palms flat to the floor. Press hips back until you feel a deep stretch in your hips and inner thighs. Once your pelvis starts to reach toward the floor and you are able to sink deeper into the pose, feel free to bring your arms out in front of you. Until then, stay on your forearms for support. Also can be helpful to put an ab mat or two under your pelvis as a target. People often say this position is uncomfortable on the inside of their knees – mats can help there, too. Hold for 30 seconds, at least twice.

5 Mind-Blowing Hip Stretches to Relieve Tightness Now: Frog Pose

Seated Pigeon Pose (Daily Burn): Sit with knees bent, feet flat on floor in front of you. Place one ankle on top of the opposite thigh and flex your foot. Hands placed behind you, with fingertips facing away from your body. Press your hips toward your heels. You should feel a stretch through the outer hip of the lifted leg. Make sure your back is up straight, shoulders relaxed, chest open. Hold for 30 seconds x2, each side.

5 Mind-Blowing Hip Stretches to Relieve Tightness Now: Seated Pigeon

Pigeon Pose (CrossFit Stuttgart): From tabletop, slide your right knee forward and left leg back. Hips should be squared. Back leg straight behind you (foot lined up with hip), quad on the mat, toes pointed with top of the foot on the floor. Front shin does not have to be parallel with the front of the mat, but the more parallel it is, the more intense the hip opener. Front knee should be in line with the front hip. Sink your hips down toward the mat. If you notice a big gap between your hips and the mat, it is helpful to place a towel, yoga block, or ab mat under your hips/pelvis. Until you are able to sink your hip forward hip into the mat feeling support from the floor, keep your torso upright with your shoulders pulled back and down. Once your flexibility improves, feel free to lay forward and extend out your arms into a comfortable position. Hold for 30 seconds x2, each side.

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More resources, both for hip openers and low back tension:

http://breakingmuscle.com/video/an-effective-stretch-for-tight-hips-or-low-back-pain-videoKelly Starrett/Mobility WOD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8MypXBKQj8http://breakingmuscle.com/yoga/heal-your-lower-back-pain-with-these-5-yoga-posesHappy stretching!

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“I’m going to address something that has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s a hard subject for me since I struggle with body image issues but here goes nothing. My body does not look like all the other @crossfitgames female athletes with crazy ripped abs and zero body fat on their stomachs. I wish I could look like that, but I’ve come to the realization that this is my body. I work my ass off in training everyday. I eat clean for the most part, but am human and love to indulge in dessert every now and then. I’m in the best shape of my life and still don’t have a six pack. Not even close to a 4 lol. Some of it is genetics and the other part is I could eat less calories to try to look like everyone else. But the bottom line is I need to eat to perform. I can’t worry about trying to look like a Games athlete because having a six pack doesn’t always make for the best athlete. So for anyone who thinks they need to look a certain way to be a Regionals or Games competitor, you don’t. Stay on the grind and keep doing you! #GamesBound #CrossFitGames” – Jamie Hagiya, Southern California Region; Owner: Torrance CrossFit.

A photo posted by The CrossFit Games (@crossfitgames) on Jun 28, 2016 at 6:05am PDT.

For anyone who thinks s/he need to look a certain way to try CrossFit, to come to a specific class, to participate in a CRCF throwdown or the Opens, to be a CRCF athlete — you don’t. As Jamie says, “[s]tay on the grind and keep doing you.” Results will come. Summer bodies are just our bodies during one of the seasons of the year. In Massachusetts, every year, we have to strip away layers on layers of clothes from cold winters and damp springtimes. Not only do hibernation and holidays affect many of us in terms of weight gain, but also life chooses other random times to ruin our routines and cause unwanted losses or gains. We often think of it as a yearly struggle to “get that summer body back” — whether it means losing body fat or gaining muscle that you’ve lost — but we also can look at it as a cycle between periods when we relax our expectations of ourselves and how we “should look” and then times when we raise those expectations to do the things we want to do and feel the way we want to feel. That’s not a bad thing or an odd thing; that’s life. So, it’s summer…officially. Guess what? Your summer body is already here. “Stay on the grind and keep doing you.” Do your best to push hard in the gym, eat as healthy as you can, sleep, manage stress, and don’t forget to enjoy your outdoor time, family & friend time, barbecues, and vacations. Everyone’s body responds to diet and exercise differently and everyone’s highest performing body will look different. Do your best to be kind to yourself (remembering that everyone has insecurities, even CrossFit Games athletes) and be kind to the body that carries you through your workouts and your life, in the summer and every other season.

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Saturday’s 2016 Summer Classic went off with over 20 co-ed couples competing for club pride.  We had a mixture of husbands and wives, friends, and near strangers; all of which led to an extremely fun atmosphere and a lot of very open minds.  I feel you’ve done things right when everyone just wants to come in and try their hardest, regardless of who walks away with the victory and Saturday we saw just that.  I had joked about calling the tournament the “divorce open”, but often times these events do cause a little inter-team bickering.  This weekend that was NOT the case.  We had multiple husbands and wives going after it and actually working well together and smiling the whole time.  Big shout out to the Kaufmans, the Brooks’, Yankovskis, Ismans, Cantwells, Saratellas, and Reidl’s for going into the deep unknown with your significant other.  I will also mention Dave and Diane as well as Justin and Mary for also taking a chance with your boyfriend/girlfriend.  If that didn’t go well who knows what could have happened;)  The most amazing part was all of the first time competitors coming and throwing down with the vets.  It’s always awesome to see it because from our perspective, this is all for fun and there is no reason NOT to compete!  Here are the total results:

And apologies to Lou and Ian, we couldn’t count you as co-ed so we just stuck you at the top;)

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Thank you to everyone for participating and continuing to confirm why we are the best CrossFit community EVER.  You guys are the reason we continue to be here and we are proud to call you our family!

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SCHOOL IS OUT AND KIDS ARE HOME!

Summer is here everyone! We are all aware that kids are at home now. Luckily, we have found 2 babysitters to help us out. CRCF is currently offering sitting for children aged 3 months – 5 years on M,T,W, and F during the 9:30am classes. If you plan to use our sitter, you need to reserve a spot prior to arriving. The state law allows us to have 6 kids in the room ONLY. PLEASE SIGN UP AHEAD OF TIME. If you arrive with children and the room is full you will be told we are unable to watch them. Children who are over the age of 5 that are brought in are welcome to quietly sit on the outskirts of the gym floor or in the stock room. Any child under 5 cannot be in the gym UNSUPERVISED.  They are NOT allowed in the sitting room or personal training room. For everyone’s safety, we also forbid children to sit on the rowers, bikes, GHD, or flip around on the rings before, during or after class. Please realize the rules are set for safety and fairness for everyone. We understand it is sometimes difficult to get into the gym when kids are home; we are doing our best to help make it easier. Please respect the guidelines so we can continue to offer the sitting in the future. Thank you in advance for your cooperation!

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First off, this was by far the best challenge to date.  We had great participation, even if many didn’t find time for the retest.  We had close to 75% finish the challenge and stay on My Fitness Pal.  We had roughly 50% of challengers actually retest which is also a record.  I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but from experience this is fantastic.  Now for the breakdown:

  • We had a total of 44 participants sign up for the challenge
  • 24 challengers retested
  • 207.1 Pounds lost in 6 weeks.
  • 106.5″ in circumference from waist, hips, thighs, and arms
  • 397mm less in pinched body fat from our group

The results alone were profound seeing how this was the “loosest” challenge we’ve run to date.  No points, rules were laid out at the beginning, and everyone was given the opportunity to figure it out and many of you did!  Now for the winner (s):

  1. OVERALL WINNER:  Beth Santo – beth lost an amazing 18.5# of mass, 8.25″ of circumference and an astounding 34mm in body fat.  She was top 3 in every category.
  2. Weight Loss Winners – Beth (18.5), Gallo (18.5) and Bruce (18)
  3. Circumference Winners – Beth (8.5), Bruce (8.25), and Tom B (7.5)
  4. Fat Loss Winners – John F. (38mm), Beth (34mm), and Ricky! (33mm)

I wanted to make sure to acknowledge great efforts from SO MANY of our participants.  I hope everyone can see how easy we make this process and when you are ready, we are happy to show you the path!  Contact Coach E. with any weight loss or nutrition questions and set up a consult when you are ready for your summer body!