The next stop on our journey of exploring the 10 general skills of physical preparedness is flexibility. There are so many ways to bend this topic (get it…eh,eh), that I am SO excited to get into the details!
a. capable of being flexed
b. yielding to influence
c. characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements
Adaptable, adjustable, changeable, fluid, pliable
In the realm of CrossFit and fitness, we would generally consider flexibility to mean your ability to stretch. Can you touch your toes? Are you able you get into an overhead squat position without flinching, etc.? This is an incredibly valuable tool that we work on inside the gym to help us perform better both inside and outside the gym. By doing a full depth squat for example, which most Americans do not do past toddlerhood, we stretch out our hamstrings, adductors, calves, and backs. We reveal an ability to sit in a position that people from many other countries can eat dinner in. However, most of us can hardly get there when we first start. And that’s OK, it’s just not functional.
But surely, over time, we practice and get better and better at attaining that range of motion. And when we do, all sorts of good things start happening. We can now pick up that toddler without bending at the waist and herniating a disc. We can increase our 1 rep max snatch because we can physically get into squat snatch position. Overall, both inside and outside the gym, we are better than we were before because we do not have to worry if our bodies are “capable” of getting into that position. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrase..”my body doesn’t bend like that.” Well it can and it should be able to. Just watch my 2 year old son do it perfectly without even thinking.
We were all born with the ability to utilize our full range of motion, and unfortunately over time, our desk job or a previous injury (most likely caused from a lack of mobility/flexibility) has limited us tremendously. Ultimately, improving this type of flexibility requires daily attention and effort to fix it. It took you 10,20,30, or 50 years to get this way, you won’t be able to undo it overnight. At least CrossFit movements and mobility sessions will take you one step further.
NOW, let’s talk about another type of flexibility. Mental flexibility or adaptability to change. This is another realm that we, as CrossFitters, improve each and every day. Is your mind flexible enough to try a full depth squat after you haven’t done that in 20 years? Can you wrap your mind around trying to do a pull-up in a new way to get different results? If you WOD strategy falls apart completely, are you flexible enough to change your game plan mid workout or will you just remain rigid and stubborn, resulting in less than maximum performance?
The answer to all of these should be “YES, I am adaptable. I am flexible. I am willing to change my old habits and ways in order to reach new heights of success.” When you are a CrossFitter this simple type of mental pliability will certainly transfer over into your normal life too. You will start to figure out new solutions to old problems, you will change your bad habits and start with new, better ones. You can become like water and just “go with the flow” of your life instead of resisting all change that enters your world. Ultimately, you move from life stage to life stage with ease and your life becomes a happier and less stressful place.
So, let’s put our flexibility, mobility, and adaptability to the test both in body and mind. Set your goals, both inside and outside the gym. Try one path to success. If it doesn’t work, be flexible and try a new path, even if it looks harder and scarier. Keep walking, keep trying, keep adapting, and ultimately, you will achieve that goal.