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Strength and Flexibility
SWOLE AND FLEXY!! You’ve all heard that term from ROMWOD.com videos, but why is it significant today? “Swole and Flexy” refers to the next two general physical skills that we work on improving in CrossFit. Along with endurance and stamina, we strive daily to improve our strength and flexibility.
Strength is “the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force” (CrossFit.com). Strength training can and will improve your overall health. As we age, the human body’s muscle mass diminishes. This is usually caused from lack of muscle use. The phrase “use it or lose it” is real! Have you ever missed a week or two at the gym and felt really weak your first few days back? Or broke a bone, removed the cast and was in shock by the look of your skinny limb? Day in and day out we drive our cars, sit at our desks and maybe walk only a few steps per hour. Our bodies are not meant to be immobile. During the childhood years, we were always running, jumping, playing sports and climbing trees or monkey bars, thus keeping our strength up. When we become an adult that is often put on the back burner. Jobs, parenthood and stress take over our lives. We tend to sit majority of the day and move less. Strength training is important as we age to develop strong bones, manage our weight and often times improve chronic pain in the back, hips, neck. Do you have to be huge and bulky to be considered strong? No, of course not! Simply, build lean muscle mass in order to sustain your ability to walk, climb, lift and maintain your functional independence! Basic strength is of the utmost importance.
The second physical skill for this week is flexibility!!! CrossFit defines flexibility as “the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint”. (CrossFit.com) Much like strength, flexibility tends to decrease as we age. The less we move, the stiffer our joints get. Do yourself a favor, stand up, bend over and reach for your toes with your knees locked out. Can you reach them? If you can, great! If not, you have some work to do! Working on flexibility allows muscles and joints to remain mobile and reduces “stiffness” in the body. It will reduce soreness and improve posture over time. Joints that are flexible require less energy to move and are less prone to injury. Flexible hips, quads and hamstrings reduce stress on the lower back. Flexible calves reduce tension on the ankles and knees. There are multiple ways we work on flexibility. In our warm ups, we tend to use dynamic stretching and/or joint rotations with minimal external weight to get blood flowing and increase our body temperature. Joint rotations should be done daily. Even if you don’t come to the gym, doing simple things throughout the day like wrist and ankle rotations, arm circles and hip openers will improve your flexibility. Post-workout we lean more towards static stretching. Classic pigeon, couch stretch and seated pike are great examples of static stretches that will improve your flexibility over time. Stretching regularly is required to maintain flexibility. So next time you’re getting “swole” in the gym, don’t forget to squeeze in the “flexy” time!