If you’ve tried Olympic Weightlifting you’ll know that it requires unparalleled mobility in and complete functional strength in order to execute just two main lifts – the snatch, and the clean and jerk – successfully.
To access your full range of motion and control these complex movements whilst preventing the likelihood of injuries, I recommend incorporating the following three movements into your warmup and active recovery. They’ll also help to alleviate issues brought about by our modern lifestyles that centre on sitting down at a desk at work or watching TV or generally. What are you waiting for? Give them a go!
Thoracic spine mobility test
Why it matters – A mobile thoracic spine is crucial in areas such as the receive position in the snatch and the jerk. A lack of thoracic mobility may cause athletes to have excessive shoulder flexion, abduction and internal rotation at the shoulder joint, which would result in lifters being placed in less than optimal positions as well as decreasing overhead stability, both of which make you more prone to injury.
How to assess your thoracic spine mobility – Start on all fours and place one arm behind your back, with the other arm resting on the floor. Whilst keeping your hips square and not dropping them, rotate as far as you can. If you are unable to reach greater than 50 degrees you may have mobility limitation and/or a lack of stability and strength within your thoracic spine.
Shoulder mobility test
Why it matters – Full shoulder mobility, especially overhead, is another important prerequisite for the receive position in the snatch and the jerk. Many Olympic weightlifters find the sport form other areas of training such as CrossFit or bodybuilding which tighten up the lats and heavily reduce the range of shoulder motion, meaning your overhead position won’t be as secure as it should be.
How to assess your overhead shoulder mobility – Lie on the floor on your back. Take your arms overhead, shoulder width apart, and touch the floor with your thumbs. Next, bring both knees up to your chest and take notice of your thumbs – if they lift off the floor it’s most likely that you have tight lats or some other kind of restriction impeding your range of motion.
Ankle mobility test
Why it matters – A reduced range of ankle mobility – or dorsiflexion – is extremely common and prevents you being able to physically position yourself into the optimal squat-receive position because your knees don’t track over your toes. Compensation then occurs which results in knee pain (Valgus knees), pelvic reversal (butt wink) and upper body instability in the shoulders.
How to assess your dorsiflexion – Take your shoes off and kneel down, placing one of your feet a fist-width away from the wall. Keep your heel down and push your knee forward to touch the wall. Your knee should track over your second or third toe; if it doesn’t you’ll feel your mid-foot collapse inwards. If you’re unable to touch the wall without your heel rising, this would indicate a limited degree of dorsiflexion.
5 mobility flows to enhance weightlifting performance
When incorporated into your warmup prior to every Olympic weightlifting session, the following six mobility flows will ready your body for the rigours of weightlifting and help prevent injury and improve performance.
I recommend three sets of six reps of each mobility flow: