30 day thoracic mobility challenge debrief

12 Aug

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Last Wednesday was the final day of the challenge. Each coach finished guiding their band of merry men and women through a programme of 5 minutes per day dedicated to a skill or movement that they sucked at. Or simply wanted to improve. It was also a skill that was close to the coach’s heart too, something they also felt they needed to dedicate more time to.

For me, it was thoracic mobility.

There were a few late editions, a few drop-outs along the way which included the non-compliant (I asked that everyone report back to me at the end of the week, no report no programme – harsh but fair) and a few that stuck with me for the whole 30 days. Hopefully whichever you were I hope that you all took something away from the drills I gave you.

Here’s a quick highlights run down of the weeks:

Week One (days 1-7)

Kicked things off with getting familiar with the foam roller, simple thoracic extensions, trigger pointing around the shoulder blade, wall stretch and scapular wall slides.

Week Two (8-14)

The aim through the weeks was to give one new movement per weekday, use Saturday as a rehash of the best drills from the past 5 days, and Sunday was left to the group to choose their own exercises. Second week we covered thoracic iron cross, Mike Boyle’s thoracic extension drill on a peanut, similar drill but using an overhead position bias, some trigger point/release drills on the peanut, and finally trigger pointing the pectorals.

Week Three (15-21)

Began with more thoracic extensions but with a side-to-side smash,  keg drill with a twist by using the bottom of a sofa/radiator/similar, the butt groove pole squat, the pretzel stretch, and Friday’s was the lateral lat trigger pointing.

Week Four (22-28)

First up was the box stretch, thoracic rotations and lying (prone) straight arm raises, overhead squats with an emphasis on external rotation at the shoulder, thoracic towel stretch and some lying on the floor overhead drills.

Week Five (29-30)

We finished off the last two days with my aptly named sniff your crotch drill and then the sotts press with a broom.

The official thoracic warm-up

From the past 30 days I finished things off by giving the guys a 10 minute pre-workout thoracic preparation routine:

1 minute: thoracic spine extensions on the foam roller

2 minutes: box stretch

1 minute: scapular wall slides

2 minutes: thoracic extensions on the two tennis balls (the peanut) with side to side smash

2 minutes: lateral lat stretch

1 minute: butt groove pole squat

1 minute: sotts press

The Results

So that was our 30 days. So what? Did it make any difference? Well Magnus documented his journey pretty well via his blog.

Tim’s progress photos at the start, middle and at the end.

Chris Parkman’s progress at the startmiddle and end.

Cindy at the start and at the end.

And my own start and finish (above).

Bit of an inconsistency across the photos unfortunately. Question is: was there a difference? Ok so maybe we didn’t set the world on fire with our success. But then I always knew that the difference we made in 30 days was going to be minimal. What I hoped to achieve with this challenge was to build up a repertoire of drills at our disposal, and to initiate the start of a routine of mobilising that could be continued after.

That said, everyone noticed a different. The moment for me was doing Fran and for the first time in what feels like forever the thrusters did not feel horrendous overhead and hitting a personal best time of 6m8s. The same was true of Magnus, Tim and Chris Parkman, all suddenly found their overhead CrossFit workouts much easier. Cindy too reported that her back was feeling looser and more mobile. So whilst the photos might not suggest it, we all actually got a lot out of the past 30 days.

Great work to all of my team, thanks for keeping me company during the challenge. I hope you’re all able to keep up the work you started and keep seeing results. And for everyone who wasn’t on the challenge, need some good reasons to get some thoracic work yourself? Check out this post I did back in January 2011 for CrossFit London on the topic.

If you did the challenge with me, I’d be interested in you posting to comments your favourite or top three drills that you found to be most effective. For me my top drill was the extensions on the peanut with side to side smash. Runner ups would be butt groove pole squat, lateral lat trigger pointing and sotts press.

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