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Archive for the ‘Mobility’ Category

WOD Recovery Yoga for Ring Dips

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

For any functional fitness athlete looking to improve performance, bringing themselves closer to the level of competitors, one must have a solid ring dip. Not only is this movement important for improving shoulder, lat and core strength, it is a huge part of a muscle up, a movement that separates amateur and elite athletes. Strength in the initial stages of learning the movement can be a big limiting factor, but once the strength is gained, the ability to get the shoulders below plane of the elbows can become the difference between a good or bad ring dip rep or a successful muscle up. Most people catch the muscle up at the very bottom of their ring dip, unless you come from a gymnastics background, that is how functional fitness athletes are taught. So, improving your shoulder mobility for the bottom of your ring dip will not only improve the dip as well as overall shoulder strength, but it carries over to your muscle up, which, let’s face it, is one of the highly coveted functional fitness movements.

The poses laid out below are a combination of recovery and mobility. These poses stretch all the muscles engaged during the entire ring dip movement, to encourage recovery and reduce soreness post WOD. In addition to recovery, poses like Reverse Table Top and Clasp Hand Forward Fold specifically target the anterior deltoids, opening up the front of the shoulders to begin to allow for full depth ring dips. Increasing mobility in this region will take time, so be patient. Understanding that mobility and flexibility are just as much a part of functional fitness as being able to lift heavy weight, will in the long run, improve your form which leads to improved performance.

Tips and Tricks

* As this is WOD Recover Yoga, it is always best to do these postures after working out. When the muscles are warm, stretching is easier.

* Stay in the pose, breathing in and out through the nose for up to 2 minutes depending on how you feel. Allow the body some time to relax in the posture so that as the muscles relax, you deepen the stretch.

* Props are always encouraged, so use whatever you have:  bands, PVC pipe or towels.

1. Reverse table top


Start seated with your feet on the ground hips distance, toes pointing forward and your hands behind you fingers pointing toward the heels. Slightly turn the hands out so the first fingers point forward. Extend the hips up, grounding through the heels.  Squeeze the shoulder blades together. Lift the front of the chest (sternum) up and feel the collar bones widen. Keep head neutral and gaze up.  To deepen the stretch, shift the hips forward opening the front of the chest and shoulders.

2. Criss Cross arms


Start by lying on your belly. Then, sit up onto your forearms. Thread the right arm through, under the left arm and to the left. Then walk your left arm out to the right until you’ve reached your limit. Move the body forward so you are laying more on top of the triceps.  Allow the chin to fall toward the triceps as you relax the head down. Slowly breathe in and out through the nose, relaxing the shoulders, neck and chest. Switch sides after a minute or so.

3. Gate Pose


Start in a kneeling position. Extend the left leg out to the left with the left toes pointing forward.  Keep the right hip stacked over the right knee. On your inhale, lift your right arm up, palm facing down. Lengthen your tailbone toward the ground. On your exhale, extend through the side body and lean over to the left. Turn the right side of the chest up, resisting the urge to lean forward. Place your left hand either below the left knee or above it for a light support.

4. Clasp Hand Forward Fold


Start with the feet hips distance. Clasp the hands by the low back.  Squeeze the shoulder blades together, keeping a slight bend in the elbow. On your exhale fold forward. Bring the hands up and over the head focusing on the stretch in the shoulders. Breathe in this stretch for up to a minute, allowing gravity to slowly open shoulders, modify if needed.

WOD Recovery

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

s_rAfter a grueling two days it is time for rest and a little WOD Recovery Yoga.

Yesterday’s spicy MetCon was 4 Rounds for Time, 15 GHD Sit ups and 50 Double-Unders. This workout is great if you want to feel sore the next day. So my suggestion it to follow up the workout with these 3 stretches and then repeat them the next day. There are lots of other stretches you could do but these three touch on the core, the hip flexors and the calves which take a beating during this short but sweet metcon. As always breath easy, move slowly and take your time in each stretch. Allow the body to slowly open up to prevent over stretching, especially if you are sore!

1. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or Up Dog (Top Photo)
The hands should be underneath the shoulders. Press down through the palms and tops of the feet to allow the hips to slowly lift of the ground. Feel the chest move forward and up
through the gateway of the shoulders as you lengthen your tailbone towards your heels. Breathing here for 15 seconds and then relax and repeat.

2. Anjaneyasana Variation or Forward Low Lunge (Bottom Left)
Starting in a low lunge with the right foot forward, the front heel directly under the front knee, begin to draw the knee forward of your ankle while grabbing the front of the toes. Continue to draw the heel down. You should feel a big stretch through the achilles and the lowest part of your calf. Hold and breathe here for 30 seconds, then switch.

3. Anjaneyasana with Side Stretch or Low Lunge Side Stretch (Bottom Right)
Starting in a low lunge with the right foot forward, the front heel directly under the front knee and the back toes un-tucked, allow the hips to relax towards the ground as you feel the hips hug together. The frontal hip points should be parallel to the front of the mat. Place your right forearm on your right thigh for stability, lift the left arm up and over to the right feeling a side stretch along the left side. Hold and breathe here for 30 seconds. If you have the space in the side body, you can gently turn the chest up towards the ceiling to feel the stretch through the hip flexor and front of the belly.

Mobility WOD

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

I’m a bit of a mobility junkie, especially when it comes to K-Star. I highly recommend watching his videos, and applying it to your training. I just watched this one and immediately tried after class this morning, all I can say is WOW! This was HUGE amount for my shoulder.

From now on, if you see me wearing the rings strap as a sash with a Kettlebell hooked on to it you’ll know why.

Maximizing Power– Maintaining and Increasing Flexibility in the Hip Flexors

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

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When we talk about the role of the hip flexors in squatting technique and running power, we can begin the conversation in terms of flexibility. Tightness in the hip flexors can prevent full extension as you come out of the squat, can pull on the pelvis as you lower down to prevent your back from staying upright, or decrease your full power potential during your run stride if you can’t fully extend the hips as the striking foot leaves the ground behind you.

Without getting too anatomical, the hip flexors consist of 3 main muscles:  Illacus, Psoas Major and Rectus Femoris. The Iliopsoas, (more commonly referred to as the hip flexors) flex the hip joint as well as stabilize the low back. The Rectus Femoris (top most quad muscle) — along with some other muscles we won’t get into today– assist with that hip flexion. Try standing up straight, lifting your knee up so that it is parallel with your hip. Now, find the hip crease, press down, and you should feel a tense muscle which is most likely the Illacus. Now from here, straighten your leg, keeping it as high as you can. Feel for the muscle on the very top of your thigh, that is the Rectus Femoris.

If you found it difficult to find these muscles on your own body, here we get a little more precise with the anatomy, so that you can see where exactly these muscles are in relation to your hip joint.

Illacus –The muscle that inserts into the inner side of hipbone, joins with the psoas major and originates in the inner flat surface of the hipbone.

Psoas Major — This muscle originates in the lumbar spine, specifically T12-L5 and joins with the Illacus and inserts into the inner side of the hipbone.
Rectus Femoris — One of the quadriceps muscles, the Rectus Femoris originates at the wing of the ilium (i.e. the upper lateral parts of the pelvis) and attaches to the patella tendon (knee cap). Profile BW

If you are squatting heavy, semi-heavy at high reps, or running consistently each week, then keeping the hip flexors relaxed and flexible must be part of your training program. Even if you are starting from a place of great flexibility, remember that every squat and every stride is a concentric contraction of this group of muscles, meaning they shorten each time they are used. And if you don’t stretch the muscles to regain the length you started with, they will continue to shorten which may cause issues with your squat form or power output during your runs over time. This is precisely why we stretch.

The sequences of stretches below increase gradually in their intensity and should be approached in this order to minimize over-stretching and maximize flexibility. Now that you know where the target muscles are located, be focused and deliberate in your stretching to increase efficacy of each stretch.

  1. Make sure to keep the hips square as you come into the stretch, the front heel grounding and the hips stable, but relaxed, so that the body can ease into the stretch and the hip flexors can release.

  2. It is recommended that you stay in each stretch for about a minute, making sure to switch sides before moving on to the next stretch.

  3. As these stretches increase in intensity, only go as far as your body is willing to go. Meaning, once you feel a good stretch, stay where you are and breathe.

  4. Before you move on to the next one in the series, switch sides.

Pictured below is CrossFit NorCal Regionals Athlete Amanda Norton out of CrossFit Marin. After the 2014 Regionals, Amanda had tightness in both hip flexors which translated into pain and tightness during squats. She has been working diligently to keep the hip flexors open and uses these stretches regularly, especially after heavy squat days.

A. Foam Roller: This works to relieve the tension in the region of the hip flexors to prime them for stretching. Make sure to place the foam roller in the hip crease and slowly roll back and forth to massage the hip flexors and top of the quads.

B. Low Lunge: Keeping the torso upright while the hips relax toward the ground, target the Illacus.

C. Low Lunge Side Stretch: Keep the torso upright while the hips relax toward the ground. As you lift your arm up, find the side stretch, then turn that side of the upper chest toward the ceiling and lift, finding a slight backbend. This will not only stretch the Illacus, but also the Psoas Major as well.

D. High Lunge: The focus for the high lunge stretch should be on lengthening the tailbone down toward the ground as you extend through your back heel to target the Illacus.

E. High Lunge Side Stretch: The focus for this stretch is the same as low lunge but now you are adding the side stretch. Find lift in the upper chest as you turn that side of the chest up for a slight back bend.

F. Low Lunge On Block or Plate: This is the same position as low lunge but now we are  elevating the front foot to deepen the stretch in the Illacus.

G. Foam Roller with Bent Knee: At this point in the sequence your hip flexors have opened up. These next three stretches will help you access the inner most parts of the hip flexors and quads. For this foam roller stretch, we are using the same principles as when the leg was straight, but here you are able to access the muscles more thoroughly.

H. Low Lunge with Quad Stretch: The set up of this stretch starts with low lunge. Walk the front foot a couple of inches out to the side and then bend the back knee and grab for the foot with the opposite hand. If that is not possible, use a strap and wrap it around the foot.

I. “Couch” Stretch: The name of this stretch doesn’t give it the justice it deserves. Shout out to the coaches at CrossFit Marin for coming up with such an innocuous name. This is a deeper version of the previous stretch and all the same rules apply. The bottom knee should be as close to the wall as you can get. The bent leg’s foot should be pointing up. Send your hips back to a point where you feel the stretch along the top of the quad and up into the hip flexor. Every few breaths, shift the hips back toward the wall to deepen the stretch.

Yoga is coming to the Cave!

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

steph_ring-591.jpgThe Cave is excited to announce 2 new Yoga classes expertly instructed by Stephanie Ring.

Wednesday 12-1pm Athletic Vinyasa Flow:

Athletic Vinyasa Flow is a fast paced yoga class designed to challenge athletes and yogis physically and mentally. Each class will focus on strength, core stability, flexibility and postures to help improve overall athletic performance.

Monday and Thursday 10am-11amWOD Recovery Yoga (Post CrossFit Yoga):

WOD Recovery Yoga (Post CrossFit Yoga)introduces athletes to another form of movement designed to improve their WOD performance and overall fitness. Each class will include poses and transitions to improve performance in 5 of the 10 general physical skills crucial to overall fitness: Flexibility, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy. Classes will be sequenced to improve mobility in foundational movements like squats and designed to help unwind the body from previous workouts.

Private and Semi Privates

Available for private instruction Monday through Saturday. Email to set up appointment for private or semi private yoga classes.

Stephanie Ring, creator of Endure Yoga, is an athlete who absolutely loves yoga.

She created Endure Yoga to help athletes improve their athletic performance. This is a specialized yoga system in which yoga classes are specifically designed around the athlete and their specific goals and the type of physical activity that they are pursuing. Classes help to maintain flexibility and fitness and mirror the builds, recovery and taper periods in a training season.

This week in The Cave

Monday, July 28th, 2014

A fantastic group of guys

A fantastic group of guys

Congratulations to Coach Bill!

Bill Berry made a HUGE statement at the CrossFit Games last week!  He came in 14th in the Master division, and showed the true spirit of a champion!  Great job Bill!  We loved cheering you on and watching you get after it.  We are all so  proud of you!!  Roger’s series of recaps of Bill’s events begins here:

It is with deep sadness that coach Bill is leaving us to be closer to his family on the east coast.    We’ll be having a goodbye party for him at The Cave on Saturday, August 2nd starting at 5:30pm.  Please join us in celebrating Bill and showing our love for him.  Also, please take a moment to read his farewell letter here:
wod_recovery_yoga2-1Yoga is coming to The Cave
Starting the first week in August, we’ll be adding 3 new classes to our schedule:

WOD Recovery Yoga (Post CrossFit Yoga)      Monday and Thursday 10-11am

Athletic Vinyasa Flow Yoga      Wednesday 12:00-1:00pm

More information can be found on our website:

Fall Class Registrationgroup_photo
Yes, it is only mid-summer, but it’s already that time to begin planning for the Fall!  Classes fill up super fast in the Fall, so now is the time to organize your children’s schedules and sign them up!  Our Fall Schedule can be seen here on-line and you can sign up by calling The Cave at (415) 927-1630.
muscleup-goodCrossFit Trainer’s Gymnastics Seminar
You don’t want to miss this! Spend 3 hours with Roger Harrell - founder of the CrossFit Gymnastics Certification program - learning how to properly teach gymnastics fundamentals in a CrossFit program. Detailed progressions will be covered. Key safety concerns will be addressed specifically geared toward teaching gymnastics movements to adults. Click here to register.
This seminar is coupled with the Athlete’s Gymnastics Seminar. Member’s cost for both Trainer’s and Athlete’s seminars is $90, non-member cost is $100. Call (415) 250-9710 to sign up for BOTH seminars and receive the special pricing.
CrossFit Athlete’s Gymnastics Seminar
Spend 3 hours with Roger Harrell - founder of the CrossFit Gymnastics Certification program - learning gymnastics movements. This seminar is focused on proper and efficient execution of key gymnastics elements. Get started or improve your technique on a variety of movements. Learn how these skills truly break down to work toward mastery. Floor, rings and parallettes will be covered in detail with an introduction to other gymnastics apparatus. Learn some key techniques to dramatically improve your efficiency and enable performance of skills you thought unattainable. Click here to register.
This seminar is coupled with the Trainer’s Gymnastics Seminar. Member’s cost for both Athlete’s and Trainer’s seminars is $90, non-member cost is $100. Call (415) 250-9710 to sign up for BOTH seminars and receive the special pricing.

WOD Recovery Yoga for High Rep Wall Balls

Friday, July 25th, 2014

How many Wall Ball shots does it take to make sitting down impossible for a few days post WOD? I am going to say roughly 150.

So there you are walking into your Box ready to workout, and there it is on the whiteboard, Karen, for time. Cancel all your plans for the next few days because functioning like a normal human being will inevitably be quiet challenging. Most athletes, regardless of fitness, will find 150 repetitions of any movement taxing on the body.  Post WOD soreness isn’t immediate, which means the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) strikes hard around 24-48 hours. Knowing this, and knowing that this type of movement works almost all of the major muscle groups, it is important to take the necessary steps to keep the muscles limber and mobile before the peak of the soreness hits.

Think of Wall Balls as low weight Thrusters with an added rest. In both movements, there is a low squat, the drive for explosive power and a press, but unlike Thrusters, we have a second or two to rest our arms as the ball leaves our hands and prepare for the catch. Now one thing about High Rep Wall Balls is that at some point when fatigue overrides form, strange things can occur. Maybe you begin looking up, straining the back of your neck or your torso dips down when you catch the ball causing unnecessary load on the low back. In the days following the WOD take note of that for form corrections. For the purpose of this article, we will focus more on the main target muscles when Wall Balls are done correctly.

These 6 WOD Recovery Yoga Poses will focus on stretching the following; low back, quads, glutes, neck, outer hips, hamstrings, inner groin, deltoids and triceps. Run through this sequence 2-3 times in the days following the High Rep Wall Ball WOD.  Use the breath to release the tension in the body as you stretch by focusing on slowly breathing in and out through the nose.

**Since intense soreness and limited range of motion can play a huge roll in mobility post WOD, go slow, and only do what you can. It is best to do these poses once you are a little warm. Stay in each pose up to 2 minutes.

  1. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose)

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Starting in a table top position, hands under the shoulders, knees under the hips, bring your right knee towards your right wrist and begin to extend the left leg back. Then, roll towards the front of your left thigh so your hips are square to the ground. Walk the hands away from the front shin and fold forward. You will feel a targeted stretch in the right glute.

**Pigeon pose can create a lot of tension in the knee if you hip is very tight, so if you are feeling any pain, switch to, Sucirandhrasana  “Eye of the Kneedle.” See below.

Profile BW

Start by lying on the floor. Bend your left knee and place the foot on the ground. Right foot will go over and above your left knee and while keeping the right foot flexed, draw your left knee into your chest. You can choose to grab the back of the left thigh or front of the shin. Continue to press the right knee away from your chest as you draw your left knee in.

2. Ardha Malasana (Half One-Legged Squat)

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Start by lowering into the bottom of your air squat. Extend the right leg out to the right, flexing the foot and pressing firmly through the right heel. Keeping your left heel down, let the hips sink down to the ground, slowly deepening the stretch in the right hamstring. Fingertips can stay on the ground for balance.

3. Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose)

Profile BW

Begin by kneeling on the ground. Bring the top of the head to the ground near the knees. As you begin to slowly roll towards the back of the head bringing the chin closer to the chest, widen the upper back, the hips will lift and the hands will reach towards the heels for leverage. The back of the neck and upper back is the target of this stretch.

4.Gomukhasana Arms (Cow Facing Pose-Arms)

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Start by sitting on the heels feet and shins together. Bend the right elbow and grab it with the left hand. Draw the right elbow in towards the midline, making sure that the right tricep is rolling forward. From here, reach the left arm around the back, palm facing out. Walk the left fingertips towards the right and claps them together if possible. If not, use a strap or band to modify.

5. Extended Baddha Konasana (Extended Bound Angle Pose)

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Start in a seated position with the soles of the feet together and knees wide. Extend the feet forward so that you make a diamond shape with the legs. On your exhale, bring the hands around the outside of the feet (for leverage), round the back and reach the forehead to the heels

6. Supta Matsyendrasana  (Supine Twist with Quad Stretch)

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Start by lying on your back and draw one knee into the chest keeping the other leg extended on the ground. Gently draw your knee across the body. Let the shoulders drop down to the ground.  From there, bend the bottom knee and grab the foot with the opposite hand.

Lower Back Mobility

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Another good video from MobilityWOD.

For those of you who refuse to watch videos, he’s putting his feet on a box to stretch the lower back muscles, then smashing them with a lacrosse ball by rolling laterally, just above the ilium.

Workout for May 23, 2013:

A) 5 Minutes shoulder mobility

B) For time: 20 right-arm dumbbell snatches (60/40lb) / run 400m / 30 pull-ups / run 400m / 20 left-arm dumbbell snatches (60/40lbs).  10 minute cut-off.

C) 12-12-12 standing barbell twists / good mornings / bent arm dumbbell flyes

D) Tabata sit-ups

E) 5-minutes hip mobility


A) 15 minute clock: run 800m, then AMRAP with remaining time: 5 deadlifts (50/35kg) / 15 sit-ups.

B) 6-min EMOM: run 50m / 3 burpees

CrossFit is a Sport…

Monday, May 20th, 2013

…and sports are dangerous.

This looks worse than it is.  But it looks pretty bad!

This looks worse than it is. But it looks pretty bad!

There’s an injury risk for any sport that you play.  And while it’s been said that sitting on the couch is way more dangerous than doing CrossFit, the fact remains that people get hurt doing CrossFit.  This is one of the biggest points that CrossFit’s detractors make on a regular basis.  ”Exercise isn’t supposed to hurt people, but CrossFit does.”

It’s a valid point that exercise shouldn’t cause injury, but the problem is that CrossFit isn’t just exercise.  Sure, we do movements that you see in other exercise routines, such as push-ups and running.  But we also do movements that are entire sports, such as weight lifting, and we do them in a competitive setting, constantly trying to beat our last time, or to win against other people in the class.

Just like many people play other sports, like softball, to get exercise and stay in shape, us CrossFitters “play” the sport of CrossFit to stay in shape.  It has the advantage of including a combination of functional movements from many other sports, so it gets us in good shape to play many other sports, but, like all other sports, it has a risk of injury.

So, my answer to people when they ask about whether or not CrossFit is dangerous is, yes, it’s a dangerous sport.  But so is soccer, cycling, track, and wrestling.  The key here is to remember that when you’re doing CrossFit, you’re participating in a sport, you’re not just working out.  This is one of the reasons that we’re including so much ancillary and mobility work: those things help keep you mobile and strengthen the parts that are most likely to get injured during the WOD.

Pay attention to your mobility and other work.  Avoid injury by training and playing smart.

Shoulder Mobility Trick from Amanda

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Here’s a really good shoulder warm up that Amanda learned a few weeks ago at the Olympic lifting seminar with Dianne Fu.  Check it out:

Workout for 5/16/13:

A) 5-5-5 Burgener Warm-up with a bar.

B) 5 minutes shoulder mobility

C) 12-12-12 bent arm dumbbell flyes / hip extensions

D) 10-minutes of ring work: supports, L-sits, inverted hangs, levers, ice cream makers, etc.  Tailor to athelete’s needs.

E) Tabata push-ups


3 Rounds of max reps in 1-min of the following: Jump rope / Ab mat sit-ups / 60′ shuttle sprints / burpees / rest. (Takes 15 minutes)