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Book 8 – Becoming A Supple Leopard

This is both an Operating Manual and a Troubleshooting Guide for the human body. I CANNOT recommend this book highly enough and I can’t believe I didn’t purchase it when it first came out.

Kelly Starrett is the founder of MobilityWOD, for those of you not familiar with CrossFit the WOD stands for “Workout Of the Day”. Originally posting some advanced stretching techniques (which I followed religiously as an athlete in 2010) he has now summarised his knowledge into one giant book.

The four sections work independently and you can jump in and learn exercise techniques or certain stretches to relieve tightness or pain without reading the rest of the book.

Book eight is…

Becoming A Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett

becoming a supple leopard

PRO TIP: Take notes! When you read a book, use a blank sheet of paper as a bookmark and write down any interesting facts and information from the book. You won’t remember everything a year from now, so this condenses a whole book into 3-4 pages of key notes that are important to you.

Some of my notes:

Part 1: Principles and Theory

  • Prioritise good spinal mechanics
  • A few vertebrae out of alignment causes shear forces and poor mechanics
  • Tight musculature could actually be the body protecting itself from damage to CNS, known as neural tension
  • Bracing sequence: feet straight, screwed into ground. Squeeze glutes Belly breath. Exhale and increase intra abdominal pressure. Head back in neutral position. Externally rotate shoulders.
  • For every 30 minutes continuous sitting you should mobilise for 4 minutes.
  • Stable hip cues: Screw feet into ground, Spread the floor, Shove knees out
  • Stable shoulder cues: Armpits forward (overhead press), Elbows in, Break the bar
  • Only create enough torque to avoid a bad position, not maximal effort
  • Setting up with feet out in a squat allows more RoM but compromises ability to generate torque – up to 12 degrees rotation of feet is okay
  • Get in a strong position before adding load
  • To fix joint capsule use “banded distraction” P137 or mobilise in end range P138
  • Flexion gapping at knee and elbow joint helps (use rolled towel)
  • When you increase RoM you need to incorporate that in training i.e. train in your new RoM
  • Pressure wave – relax over roller/ball, use body-weight pressure and go slow
  • Contract and relax – PNF stretching, 5 seconds active, 10 seconds passive
  • Banded Flossing – resistance band and move into stretch (distraction too)
  • Smash and Floss – similar to ART (tack and move)
  • Mobilise 10-15 minutes a day, work on a) pain points, b) your ‘problems’ list, c) 2 mins or more per position, d) 3-4 techniques per session
  • Seven rules of mobility: test and re-test, know the difference between discomfort and pain, mobilise daily, make it real for positions you need, keep good posture while mobilising, explore positions for best stretch and don’t make a pain face

Part 2: Categories of Movement

  • Part 2 is a detailed breakdown of movements used in the gym, such as Back Squat, Front Squat, Deadlift, Pushup, Bench Press, Dip, Strict Press, Pullup, Kettlebell Swing, Rowing, Burpee, Clean & Jerk, Muscle Up.

Part 3: Mobilisation Techniques

  • Part 3 breaks the body into 14 different areas, e.g. Area 6 is stretches for your Lower Back and Hip Flexors.
  • You identify problems in Parts 1, 2 and 4 and use the Index of Part 3 to find stretches to fix your problems

Part 4: Mobility Prescriptions

  • In Part 4 Kelly talks about the Seven Archetypes, which are the seven movement patterns that form the core of all movements in the gym.
  • Beyond that there is an Index to diagnose stretches you can do based on a particular pain or injury you have
  • There is also a 14 day stretching template with options to customise for your own requirements

This book is INCREDIBLE if you regularly exercise. It is like having a Personal Trainer safely coach you through every exercise you could want to do in or outside the gym, all for the price some Trainers charge for a 30 minute consultation.