Death Stretch

Mobility Tip of the Week: Death Stretch

Got tight hips and quads?  Sit a lot?  The Death Stretch is hands down one of my favorites to recommend.  This mobility exercise gets its name from the pain (often associated with death) it has caused others in the past.  Kelly Starrett of MobilityWod calls it the Couch Stretch.

(this is not the couch stretch fyi…)

I was first exposed to this mobility drill in 2009 when I first joined Robb Wolf‘s gym, Crossfit NorCal (if you are into history of Crossfit, this might be an article of interest).

I was green when it came to the term “mobility” then as most folks in 2009 were.  Crossfit and mobility weren’t a household name yet, but they definitely were a growing trend.  I was taking NorCal coach Nicki Violetti’s Olympic Weightlifting classes then, and we had to do this drill a few times during the class session.  I dreaded it!  I was as tight as Scrooge with his money (still a work in progress) and my hips and quads felt like they were going to rip off each time…but she stressed consistency.

Well…I drank the Kool-Aid (no sugar added as the gym was Paleo and the owners had a code to follow…) and kept working on it.

I finally started seeing some progress.  Gosh darn it.  They were right.  I could pull a leg up in a few months in and the stretch actually started to feel good instead of down right painful.  Eventually I was able to sit up tall and get my glutes engaged which allowed me to get my hips forward (this allows you to maximize the stretch in the hips and quads).

Here is a great video of my On Ramp coach Cindy Oji (The O.G.) demonstrating The Death Stretch from NorCal Strength and Conditioning’s extensive library on YouTube:

I first started off with this stretch doing 2 minutes per leg.  Not sure if that is the best strategy if you are tighter than a 2 dollar bill like me.  I would suggest for newbies to hit 1 minute per leg and alternate for a second minute per leg (still hitting 2 minutes a leg, just breaking it up into 2 rounds).

Death Stretch
A great way to start the Death Stretch for Beginners!

That way you aren’t overloading your nervous system too quickly and you can start building up the stimulus and exposure over time to excel with this mobility drill.  In my opinion 2 minutes should be the maximum hold for this stretch, but some will argue to hold for 4 minutes.  If you have the time, then go for it.  I find using this drill and adding a variety of other mobility drills will maximize your time and effectiveness.

Now…go give it a shot and let me know how it goes for you by posting a video or photo on Instagram or Facebook tagging @norcal__spartan and using #norcalspartan so I can see how you are doing.  Got any questions, DM me on Instagram or comment on this post.  Get out there and win people!

Kneeling Hip Extension

#4: Mobility Tip of the Week

Hello NorCalSpartan.  This is Week 4 of “Mobility Tip of the Week.”  This week we are going to focus on the Quadriceps.  Having mobile and flexible Quadriceps allow the hips and hamstrings to function normally.

A great drill we like to perform weekly is called the “Kneeling Hip Extension” or “Natural Leg Extension.”  We love to pair this drill with deadlifts or any other hamstring developing movement.  This drill is a two-fer, mobilizes the quads and strengthens at the same time.  Watch the video (from our friends at NorCal Strength and Conditioning) and read the tips below to learn how to perform this movement correctly:

  • Start in a kneeling position with hips over knees and top of the feet down flat
  • Keep stomach tight and glutes squeezed to create slight extension at the hip
  • Hinge back at the knee going as far back as you can keep hips in slight extension and come back up without breaking at the hip or overextending the back
  • For a slightly easier variation- turn the toes under

We recommend doing this movement for 3 rounds for 6-8 Repetitions weekly.  A well trained individual could do this movement 2-3 times a week mixed in with current training load and it will still be effective.

Head on over to our Products page to see what we recommend for obstacle course training and racing.

#3: Mobility Tip of the Week

Hello NorCalSpartan.  This is Week 3 of “Mobility Tip of the Week.”  This week we are continuing to build off our Achilles and Calf segment, but adding in the ankles.  The lower portion of the leg is super important to take care of mobility and flexibility wise to stay injury free.  Adding in all of these drills weekly will give your body a great fighting chance to stay away from injuries.  Here is a short video clip on our new drill:  Ankling

Head on over to our Products page to see what we recommend for obstacle course training and racing.


Mobility Drill for the Calves

Got Tight Calves? I’m not talking Cool Baby Cows…

If you are a trail runner, Spartan Racer, track star, or just out there logging some miles for the pure joy of running this is a mobility drill you should be doing.  If you are putting in any sort of mileage, your calves and achilles start to take a beating especially when you are hitting over the 20+ mile range a week.  A runner should never have their Calves/Achilles become their “Achilles Heel” during a race!!  Check out this short video clip that I put together on how to keep your calves and achilles in running order…

P.S.  You can get the PVC at Lowes or Home Depot for just a few dollars.  If you are willing to spend the money for it, my favorite device to use is the Theragun!