Keep pushing to gain flexibility and range

Keep pushing to gain flexibility and range

by Janet Barry

I’ve been a runner all of my life, and my muscles have always been extremely  tight.  

If you’re a runner too, I’m sure you can identify. 

However, it’s important not to accept the excuse of simply being a runner because tight muscles can lead to injury. In addition, a lack of flexibility limits you in races such as obstacle courses. So I’m always working to improve my flexibility.   

Obstacles in Spartan races, such as the rings, spear throw and monkey bars, require not only grip strength but also great range of motion in your shoulders. Without that range of motion, you can’t swing properly or at all from ring to ring or bar to bar. In fact, you could even tear or pull your shoulder out.  

Squatting is also important. Obstacles, such as the tire flip which is 200lbs, require low positions in a squat with a straight back to lift the obstacle off the ground. If you can’t squat to get that leverage, it could result in injury from an improper form. Squatting is also important for obstacles such as the Olympus where you must squat up high on the slanted board and rock climb.   

I work on my shoulder flexibility by foam rolling over my muscles, rolling lacrosse balls along my pectoral muscles and my upper back as self-massage, and using a tool called a Thera Cane to apply pressure to points along my chest, shoulder and back. I also do various shoulder and back stretches to loosen things up.

To improve my squat flexibility, I work on hunkering into a deep squat whenever possible for about a 15 -30 second hold. I stretch the hip flexors and gluteus muscles. I also work on flexibility through my entire legs because all of those muscles are needed when squatting. Range of flexibility is important in everything from your calves all the way up through your hips and lower back. 

Flexibility and range of motion will not only prevent injuries but will also enhance your performance!