Stretching, flexibility, and mobility are all vital aspects of gymnastics training and can help any CrossFit athlete excel in all of the CrossFit routines. Here are the two gymnastics stretches that you should incorporate into every warm-up before your CrossFit workouts.
1. THE BRIDGE
The Bridge is used mainly to stretch the shoulders and core (i.e. abs, groin, and back). This stretch can be used in the warm-up to loosen up the tight spots, or after a CrossFit workout to stretch out the kinks. It’s also a great exercise to start getting yourself comfortable being upside down! The Bridge stretch works wonders on shoulder mobility and can improve an athlete’s shoulder flexibility for CrossFit exercises like the front rack position, kipping swings, tumbling, and overhead work.
To start, the athlete will lie on the ground with their knees up and feet tucked underneath their bottom. Then, they will place their arms in the front rack position. Maintaining that hand position, simply move the arms back until the hands are outside both of the ears with elbows pointing to the ceiling. From this position, the athlete is going to use a hip thrust, press from the arms, and drive through the heels to push up into the bridge position. The stretch helps the athlete understand the feeling of placing all of their weight on the four limbs.
If the athlete is having flexibility issues in the Bridge position, they may stack plates (or another safe raised surface) and place their feet on that. This will add extra height for the feet, so as to take some pressure off of the shoulders and wrists. There is nothing wrong with rolling in and out of the stretch, as long as the pace is controlled and the form is properly maintained. As the athlete becomes more comfortable, they can hold this stretch for as long as they like.
2. THE SPLITS
The Middle Split
The Splits are great stretches to add to your CrossFit routines for your groin, legs, abdominals, and hip flexors. There are two different splits that an athlete can use. One is the Front Split and the other is the Middle Split. We are going to focus on the Middle Split for our CrossFit workouts. The Middle Split can be useful for an athlete who keeps hearing “Drive your knees out!” or “Open your hips!” from their coach. The Straddle Stretch, shown above, is the best progression to the Middle Split. Sitting down on the ground, spread the legs as far as possible and reach out until the fingertips will not go any further.
The Frog Stretch, pictured below, is an amazing transition into the Middle Split. The main point of this stretch is to try to make a straight line through the knees and hips. The athlete should feel the stretch all through their hip flexors and hamstrings. The calves/shins should be perpendicular with the thighs. Rock backwards until a good stretch is felt. Then, you can release tension little by little and slide into a relaxing Frog Stretch. Now, you should be able to begin rocking into a full Middle Split by spreading the feet all the way to the sides and sending the hips back. Roll in and out, and eventually the hold will come.
The Frog Stretch
The Splits and Bridge are great to use before and after any CrossFit workout. Practice these stretches and progressions and they will help limber you up for your next CrossFit workout in no time, good luck!