CrossFit Stretches: The Ultimate Guide To Stretching

Improve One of CrossFit’s Physical Competence With These CrossFit Stretches.

According to CrossFit’s first fitness standard, there are 10 recognized general physical skills.

Flexibility is one of them.

It’s defined as “the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint”.

So how do you work on flexibility? By stretching.

Stretching is an important part of any exercise program or routine. If your box does not make everyone take the time to stretch after a WOD, you should it do your own. It will help you create a good habit.

What Is Stretching

The definition from Stretching Anatomy is “any movement that requires moving a body part to the point at which there is an increase in the movement of a joint”.

Stretching can be active or passive.

Active stretching is when you hold your body part that you’re stretching.

Passive stretching is when someone else moves you to a stretched position and holds you there for a specific amount of time.

There are also different types of stretching. Some are listed below.

Related: Foam Rolling vs Stretching – Know when to use each method

Types Of Stretching


Static stretching


This type of stretch is done by moving the body part being stretched into position and holding it there for 15 to 30 seconds.


Dynamic stretching is done by performing sport-specific movements. The movements are always controlled and smooth through a full or comfortable range of motion.


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A ballistic stretch is done by forcing muscles to elongate through bobbing or bouncing movements.

Since the bouncing movements trigger what’s called “stretch reflex”, they may increase your risk of an injury.

So it’s recommended you stay away from these unless you’re working with a skilled athletic trainer who knows what he’s doing.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)

The PNF stretch is an active-assisted one. That means someone else is helping you hold a stretch while you actively resist. Once the stretch is done, the joint is moved to a greater range of motion and held there. This is performed three times.

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

This stretch was developed by Aaron Mattes in treating certain conditions.

According to his website, “The Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) method of muscle lengthening and fascial release is a type of Athletic Stretching Technique that provides effective, dynamic, facilitated stretching of major muscle groups, but more importantly, AIS provides functional and physiological restoration of superficial and deep fascial planes.”

These stretches are done for no more than two seconds and for a specific amount of sets and reps.

Myofascial Release

This is when tension is relieved in the fascia and underlying muscle by using a foam roller or lacrosse ball.

It’s usually performed in small movements for 30 to 60 seconds.

Benefits of stretching

Stretching has many benefits such as:

  • Helping your joints move through their full range of motion
  • Decrease in risk of injury
  • Enabling muscles to work effectively
  • Improving circulation
  • Improving muscle coordination
  • Improving physical performance
  • Decrease in muscle tension and soreness

When and what type of stretch is done, matters.

In general, there are stretches best done before a workout and others after.

A few examples are given below.

Stretches Before A WOD

A total body movement should be done before stretching. That could be a light jog, rowing, or a full warm-up.

After dynamic stretches work best because you’re preparing for a workout.

The dynamic stretches should be specific to the exercises that are going to be done in the workout.

Some examples are:


1. Flexion/extension: moving your head forward (chin to chest) and then back.
2. Lateral flexion: moving your head to one side then the other.


Arm circles: swinging arms forward then backward.


Hand circles: at the wrist, rotate the hands inward a few times then outward.


Pass-throughs: holding onto a PVC with hands wide apart, start with the PVC in front of you. Lift the PVC up and overhead.

If you can, continue the movement until the PVC is behind you touching your back. Then lift the PVC up again and bring it back in front of you to the starting point.


Side to side leg swings: while holding onto a rig pole, swing the right leg from left to right like a pendulum. Do 10 swings and repeat with the left leg.


Butt kicks: while jogging, bring your heels to your butt. You can also do butt kicks in place.


Forward/back leg swings: while holding onto a rig pole, swing the right leg forward and up and then down and behind you. Do 10 swings and then repeat with the left leg.


Ankle rolls: either sitting on a box or holding onto a rig pole, lift your right leg and make clockwise circles with your right foot. Do 10 and then make counter-clockwise circles.

Repeat with the left leg.

Stretches After A WOD

After the workout, static stretches are best.

These will help with muscle tension from the workout. They will also help with faster recovery and less soreness. These stretches are held for 15 – 30 seconds.

Some examples of static stretches are:


Lateral flexion hold: tilt head to the right side, take your right hand and place it on the left side of your head and gently press down.

If you need more of a stretch, go near a rig pole. While holding your head to the right, bring your left arm behind you with the palm facing away from your body.

Hold onto the rig pole with the left hand (the rig is behind you).


Lay face down on a mat. Put your right arm perpendicular to your body with palm down on the floor.

Slowly turn your body as if you’re going to lay on your right side. The right arm stays in position. Stop when you feel the shoulder stretching without pain.

Repeat on the other side.

Arms (biceps, triceps)

1. Biceps: hold onto a rig pole with your right hand. Your hand should be below shoulder height and thumb pointing up.

The rig should be on your right side and your arm straight. Internally rotate the arm until you feel the stretch and hold there.

Do the same with the left arm.

2. Triceps: bring your right arm straight up overhead. Bend the elbow so that your right hand is behind your head. With your left hand, hold the right elbow and gently push it back.

Repeat with the left arm.

Wrist Flexor Stretch

Kneel on the floor. Place your hands in front of you on the floor palms down with fingers pointed towards your knees. Arms stay straight.

Gently sit back keeping the palms on the floor until you feel the stretch and hold.

Wrist Extensor Stretch

Kneel on the floor. Place your hands in front of you on the floor palms up with fingers pointed towards your knees. Arms stay straight.

Gently sit back keeping the back of the hands on the floor until you feel the stretch and hold.


Hold onto a rig pole with the right hand, thumbs pointing up. Make sure the right arm is straight and parallel to the floor. Slowly turn around to the left until you feel the stretch and hold.


1. Lower back: Lying on your back, hug your knees and hold. While on your back, bring the left leg to the floor. Bring the right knee over and across your body to the left.

Repeat on the other side.

2. Upper/mid back: Get on the floor on hands and knees. Sit back on your legs while keeping the hands on the floor. This position is called “child’s pose” in Yoga.


While lying on the floor, place a stretch band under the right foot. Straighten the right leg and hold the band with the left hand.

Guiding the right leg with the band, bring it over and across your body to the left. Both legs should stay straight. Hold the stretch.

Then bring the right leg back up. Holding the band with the right hand, bring the right leg over to the right. Hold the stretch.

Repeat with the left leg.


Couch stretch: Kneel on the floor with a wall behind you. Bring your right leg behind you so that your right shin is up against the wall. Toes are pointed. Then bring your left foot forward so the leg is in front of you at a 90-degree angle.

If you can handle a deeper stretch, push your hips down by squeezing your glutes.


Place your right heel on a box. Make sure your hips are facing the box and your right leg is straight. Lean forward by tilting your hips forward. Hold the stretch.

Repeat on the left side.


1. Recumbent knee flexor stretch: Lie on your back with your hips in front of a rig pole. Lift your right leg and rest it on the rig. Keep both legs straight.

Arms should be your sides. Your butt should be as close to the rig as you can get it or until you feel the stretch in the back of the leg. Hold the stretch.

Repeat on the left leg.

2. Lying knee extensor stretch: lying on your right side, bend your left knee. Grab the left foot with your left hand and bring the heel close to your butt. Hold the stretch.

Repeat on the other side.


1. Ankle dorsiflexion stretch: stand facing a wall or rig pole. Put the ball of your right foot up against the wall or rig.

Keeping the right leg straight, gently lean forward until you feel the stretch. Hold the stretch and repeat with the other foot.

2. Ankle plantarflexion stretch: kneel on a mat. Keep knees no more than hip-width apart and point your toes. Sit back on your legs. Your goal is to rest your butt on your heels.

Hold the stretch then go back to the starting position.


Stretching on a regular basis improves flexibility. It should be part of your routine. Don’t neglect this seemingly small part of fitness because it can help you get stronger.