CrossFit has done many great things for the sport of weightlifting. One of the greater benefits that we have seen more recently is an emphasis on mobility for specific lifters with specific body types in order to allow them to accomplish lifts to the best of their ability. Most weightlifters are not specialists at mobility simply because the lifts themselves forced us to be mobile at an early age. What we see with CrossFit however, is that many athletes are coming into the sport at a later age with poor mobility. This forces them to focus on their mobility to be good at the lifts and to prevent injury.
However, one of my big soapboxes that I tend to overemphasize with my athletes is how big of an impact bar position can have on someone’s mobility. Often times we blame mobility for a problem that really should be correlated to bar position.
Specifically, I looked at two athletes in the last twenty minutes who are concerned about mobility issues impacting their lifts. More specifically, they are worried mobility issues in their ankles hips and shoulders. However, when I looked at the videos one of the best things I could do to help their mobility is simply put the bar the right spot. Poor position overhead and poor position during the pull can create the idea that an athlete is immobile when in reality the bar has just put them in a poor position.
This is just a simple blog with a simple disclaimer. Don’t immediately blame mobility for misses or poor performance in the lifts when you have not looked at your bar track or your bar position. It’s extremely hard to maintain stable, mobile positions overhead and during the squat if you have put the bar in a poor position before you got there. For instance, if the clean is out in front of you and you have to chase the clean forward but yet you always stand up with your upper back rounded over. That is not an upper back issue or a ankle or a hip issue, that is a bar position issue. Another good example is if every time you pull under a snatch you find yourself in your toes and you think it’s because your ankles are not flexible. The reality is that the bar may have just been forward every time you snatch and if you would fix that it might put you back in your heels despite less flexible ankles.
My point in saying this is to consider both. Don’t immediately blame mobility for misses if you have not looked at your bar track. Furthermore, if your bar track is perfect and you are finding yourself in poor positions then it might be an opportunity for you to look at some mobility issues and see if that can help fix the problem. Both work hand-in-hand. Weightlifters have always done a good job of looking first to bar position while CrossFitters are doing a job of looking at mobility issues first. I think there’s a happy marriage between the two. Don’t consider one before the other but consider them both together when looking at potential problems in your lifts.