I know, it sounds like a broken record hearing your coach yell, “Get lower!” or “Hips back and chest up!” Trust me, it is not because we love nagging, but it is because we care and want to see each and everyone one of our athletes be the best version of themselves. So why such a persistence on getting lower in a squat, or getting our chest to the ground in a push up with a straight back and tight core? Well, it is because of the importance of range of motion for each individual to continue to kick ass now and well into the future.
See, when we are born, we have a perfect range of motion. Don’t believe me? Search videos of a baby squatting, and I promise you their hips are down and chest is up. This is because, as a baby, our body still moves naturally and how it was intended too. Unfortunately, over time, from sitting at work, long drives in traffic, spells of little activity, and just years of improper movement from improper coaching and just plain lack of knowledge. Trust me it happens, I am a living, breathing model of this. I went years of high school and college sports, with never being taught the importance of mobility and range of motion. Yes, of course I could squat 300lbs, but it was only down a quarter of the way, without proper technique. That 300lb squat didn’t get me better success in sports, it got me knee, hip and back pain, and frankly chicken legs for the majority of my young life, and it didn’t need to be like that!
When people lose their natural range of motion; it is like a rusty or squeaky wheel. Have you ever had a bad bearing in your car? That grinding, cringe worthy sound it makes every time your tire rotates and turns? Well that is what our joints are like with out full range of motion. The reason we want to constantly work to get to that full depth, and be able to have our body move fully through a motion, is so that our joints do not seize up like a bad bearing in our car. We need to constantly keep our joints active and “greased,” if you will. The key to understanding this is not looking at the “now,” even though you can make the point, but its looking at the future.
Regardless of age and ability, everyone is capable of working towards the best version of themselves. For that younger person that is really loving CrossFit and getting better at all their lifts and movements. Well being able to get in a proper position is going to keep you safe as you get stronger, and that means big PRs! For the people later in life, you know the “my old body doesn’t move like it used to” people, well those aches and pains go away when you can move the right way, and you know what? It makes you a pretty kick ass person in your later years, and keeps you safe and healthy, and away from the “stereotypical norm” of old age. And to everybody, everyone who wants to short their squat for a faster time, or do a half push up because its easier, or doesn’t have time to stretch for 10 min. to improve their mobility and form; don’t you want to stay progressively strong and kick ass well into your 90s? Be at that point in your life and not need a damn person to help you get up, get dressed, and get on with your life? I know I do. That is kick ass!
So, next time you approach a workout, please, don’t look at how fast can I do this? But how can I approach this with 100% effort with perfect technique. If your time is slower, so what! I promise you the benefits will be greater. Like I have always said, you can’t build a strong structure on a weak foundation. You can’t increase intensity without proper technique. This will lead to injury and immobilization 10 times out of 10, and that leads to poor health.