This blog post was written by White Tiger Qigong student Matt Perez, an avid Crossfit athlete who found Qigong increased his ability and agility in Crossfit by adding mobility exercises to his recovery routine. Here’s how.
When thinking about Qigong, slow graceful elderly people in parks might come to mind. When I think of Crossfit however, I think of strong athletes picking up heavy loaded barbells, thrusting them over their heads seemingly endlessly, before dropping them and running over to a pull-up bar to continue pumping muscle.
So it seems strange that the two exercises can complement each other so well — working in harmony to support the body in different areas. I train in Crossfit, but I attribute my ability and agility to Qigong.
Why choose Qigong when you already have Crossfit?
Bruce Lee, who was a regular practicer of Qigong, famously said: “you’d better train every part of your body.” For athletes, Qigong is brilliant because it’s so diverse that it provides training for almost every muscle and body part, pushing your mobility to new limits and enhancing your Crossfit performance.
Support for the whole body
I’ve found that Qigong is an exercise that keeps our bodies in a state of “readiness.” The movements activate several levels of our body positively, from developing our balance and strength to removing muscle stiffness, which keeps our joints healthy and mobile. The same cannot always be said for regular pushups, squats and sit-ups. Without proper mobility training in between, these repetitive exercises only have a small range of movement, and can cause us to become stiff or, in extreme cases, exhausted and irritable.
Less rest required
Qigong movements remedy these issues by helping athletes improve their endurance. Now, I can train longer than when I stuck high-intensity workouts exclusively. I can do CrossFit more, at a higher intensity, with even better results. As such, recovery time between training sessions, and the time lost warming up, can be cut down. This is because using Qigong as a form of active recovery between Crossfit workouts places the body in a sort of regenerative “standby mode,” where the body works while it’s recovering. If you were wondering how Qigong is effective without weights, it’s because the body can relax while training. It activates and builds micro muscles around the macro muscles, stabilising the joints at an even deeper level, and encouraging mobility.
Improves joint mobility
Honouring our joints is so important, especially for athletes. Our joints let us perform all our daily movements. Without joint mobility, we would sadly be stiff rigid boards unable to do much at all — let alone do a CrossFit workout. Qigong is one of the only exercises I’ve found that helps build up core strength and stabilise joints, which, as any CrossFitter knows, is key in high-intensity lifting.
Qigong exercises for CrossFitters
The human movement system includes Skeletal, Muscular and both nervous systems, which Qigong considers fundamental for all activity. Through Qigong, these seemingly separate structures are coordinated to allow for the efficient transfer of energy and power throughout the body, creating smooth movement from one segment to the next.
Tiger Climbs the Mountaintop
An ideal exercise from 5 Animal Qigong by Master Trainer Tevia Feng, to support overall muscle fascia. For this stance, ensure that almost all of your weight is on the back foot, which is turned outwards to a 45-degree angle. With your front knee straight and the front foot directly in front of you, keep the leg stretched. The knees should also be in alignment. Through simple steps, the exercise can greatly improve the flexibility of the spine through bending and extending. It effectively eases muscle stiffness along the spinal column, and maintains healthy function of the torso.
The slow twisting, sinking and circular movements of Qigong helps improve the smooth movement of our four main ball and socket joints. When practicing Qigong, we move slowly through a controlled exercise and our bodies become focused on the repetitive circular/helicoidal patterns. These exercises activate and improve the range of movement in our legs, hips, shoulders and arms at the same time.
Crane Takes Flight
For the Crane Takes Flight movement from the 5 Animal Qigong ebook, place your hands at your waist, turn your right foot out and step forward with your left foot. Extend the arms directly in front of you. Lean back as far as you can to put all the weight onto the back foot. As the arms move, you feel a deep stretch in the fascia around the shoulder, which develops you shoulder blade mobility and relieves the strain from CrossFit’s strenuous and intensive weight lifting.
In Tevia Feng’s e-courses, 5 Animal Qigong and 5 Element Qigong, CrossFitters can develop dynamic strength and functional flexibility to support their training and focus. Visit our blog, or browse our ebooks and online courses to learn how Qigong can help you achieve a lifetime of health and mobility.