July 01, 2007
Stretching sucks. It does. There, it's been said. You can't brag about your best stretching time, you don't get to write your stretch PR on the wall, and there is no immediate "Fran"-like gratification that you are really tough. And despite the fact that flexibility is one of the ten CrossFit pillars of complete, well-balanced fitness, increasing flexibility potential remains the ungreased squeaky wheel of most athletes' training programming. According to the ten general physical skills list, flexibility is allegedly as important as power or strength. So why don't we take it more seriously? Because, typically, we simply fail to frame flexibility in terms that are important to us: increasing performance.
Stop kidding yourself. Lacking flexibility in crucial areas has a crushing impact on your athletic abilities; to say nothing of the host of pains and problems that inflexibility predisposes you to. If you know you have tight hips, calves, hamstrings, quads, thoracic spine, or shoulders and aren't actively, aggressively striving to fix them, then you must be afraid of having a bigger squat, faster rowing splits, or a more explosive second pull. Or, you must be very lazy. Because if you are tight and a CrossFitter, you are missing a huge opportunity to get better, stronger and faster. Simply put, not stretching is like not flossing, and the results are not pretty. There are many areas of restriction in the typical athlete, but it makes sense to begin a discussion about flexibility and performance at perhaps the most commonly neglected and profoundly underaddressed area of the body, the hamstrings. The goals of this article are to help you understand how hamstring restriction impedes performance and function, learn to identify tight hamstrings with a few simple assessment tools, and above all, know how to address the problem.