Mobility in CrossFit

Sarah Hughes PT, DPT, OCS, CF - L2 has been practicing PT since 2007 and opened her private practice, Arrow Physical Therapy in 2016. She now owns and operates Arrow remotely while residing in the Chicago area and practicing at Outlier Physical Therapy. Her specialties include dance medicine, the CrossFit and weightlifting athlete and conditions of the hip and pelvis such as femoroacetabular impingement and labral tears. Dr. Hughes earned a BS in exercise science from Gonzaga University and a DPT from the University of Washington, she wrote and instructs Weightlifting and Functional Fitness Athletes.


Mobility. What is it and how can we get more of it?? In the CrossFit world, athletes can be really fixated on mobility.

  • This feels tight.
  • That feels restricted.
  • I can’t squat below parallel because my ankles are tight.
  • I can’t press fully overhead because my lats are locked up.
  • I know I just need to foam roll more.
  • I’ve been doing this mobility program but I still can’t make progress
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Don’t let these athletes fool you. They may be strong and look capable in their functional fitness, but often there is a REASON they feel tight, and it’s not because they need more passive motion. Many CrossFit athletes spend their warm-up time lying on foam rollers, stretching with heavy resistance bands, static stretching, and using percussion guns and other mobility tools.

But, what IS mobility? Mobility is defined as the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion. Mobility is about controlling your body through a full range of active movement; much different than passively stretching into a position. And, mobility can only be achieved with strength training, neuromotor retraining, appropriate exercise prescription and PRACTICE. Keep these athletes in your sights as they perform the exercises. Don’t get caught giving them too much freedom to only see you for manual work and then do a home program alone. No online program that they can purchase will ever replace your education and ability to help them with mobility drills.

Are your patients stretching and stretching without the increased mobility they are looking for? Are you doing manual work that is targeted and effective but only getting you so far with them? Try some stability drills and strength training exercises! In the Weightlifting and Functional Fitness Athletes - Remote Course we will look at different CrossFit requirements and what these athletes need. HINT: it's not more foam rolling!!

Weightlifting and Functional Fitness Athletes

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Course Dates: March 4, May 13, and October 14

Price: $295
Experience Level: Beginner
Contact Hours: 9

Description: When it comes to Crossfit and Weightlifting, opinions are divided among Physical Therapists and other clinicians. Why is it that these sports cause such strong differences among rehab professionals? In this half-day, remote continuing education course, instructor Sarah Haran PT, DPT, OCS, CF-L2 looks at the realities and myths related to Crossfit and high-level weight-lifting with the goal of answering “how can we meet these athletes where they are in order to keep them healthy, happy and performing in the sport they love?" 

This course will review the history and style of Crossfit exercise and Weightlifting, as well as examine the role that therapists must play for these athletes. Common orthopedic issues presented to the clinic will be examined. Labs will introduce and practice the movements of Crossfit and Weightlifting, discussing the points of performance for each movement. The practitioner will not only learn how to speak the language of the athlete but will experience what the movement feels like so that they may help their client to break it down into its components for a sport-specific rehab progression. The goal of this course is to provide a realistic breakdown of what these athletes are doing on a daily basis and to help remove the stigma that this type of exercise is bad for our patients. It will be important to examine the holes in training for these athletes as well as where we are lacking as therapists in our ability to help these individuals. We will also discuss mindset and culture issues such as the use of exercise gear (i.e. straps or a weightlifting belt), body image, and the concept of "lifestyle fitness". Finally, we will discuss marketing our practices to these patients.

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