What is ROMWOD and Does ROMWOD Work?

ROMWOD – Does It Work?

Just How Effective Are Templated Stretching Routines?

ROMWOD (Range of Motion Workout of the Day) has been and continues to be a craze within the CrossFit Community. Almost every major CrossFit Games athlete endorses ROMWOD in their social media posts. ROMWOD is even a major sponsor of the CrossFit Competition series now. But does ROMWOD actually work as it is advertised and sold?

Perhaps the reason for its popularity among fitness enthusiasts is that it’s one of the few platforms to offer easily accessible, video based stretching routines to complement one’s current CrossFit training regimen. Generally speaking, warm-up and cool-down activities tend to be the lowest of priorities among athletes. The creators of ROMWOD saw a prolific lack of stretching among CrossFit enthusiasts and smartly capitalized on it.

Many are drawn to doing ROMWOD because they believe it’s “optimizing” their range of motion. This usage of the word ‘optimize’ plays somewhat on the athletes desire to seek physical perfection and is a bit vague in its application. What is ‘optimal’ for you depends on whatever your athletic pursuit is and as such is highly individualized. Still, if you are seeking improved mobility, ROMWOD or any templated stretching service may not be the solution.

What is ROMWOD?

ROMWOD is a subscription based online service that provides daily stretching videos featuring a variety of random athletes. According to their website, their videos and exercises are meant to increase range of motion, optimize athletic performance, and promote recovery, healing, and longevity.

Overall, ROMWOD believes the most important thing holding athletes back is their limited range of motion. Their solution involves unique static stretches held out for extremely long periods of time. Their audience generally comprises of CrossFit enthusiasts.

Contrary to ROMWOD’s claims, increased range of motion alone won’t necessarily increase your athletic performance. In some cases, an increase in range of motion can actually hinder it. New ranges of motion (ROM) need to be trained properly, so motor control, stability, and strength can be gained. What it likely will do is get you into more of a parasympathetic state which comes from deep breathing and relaxing music. A parasympathetic state is critical to allowing for soft tissue change.

In addition, the prolonged stretching required of every ROMWOD session can limit the ability of your muscles to do several things: produce contractile force for voluntary muscular contractions, provide adaptation to training stimuli and provide stability at the end of your range of motion. Moreover, static stretching has been shown to limit the ability for powerful muscle contractions if done over long periods of time. This is a part of the reason why static stretching is no longer the method choice for warm-ups or even cool-downs within the strength and conditioning field.

Many individuals who feel ‘tight’ might feel that stretching is the answer to increasing their range of motion, when it can often be a stability issue causing those restrictions in movement. For people who are already highly mobile, they typically should create optimal strength throughout their full range of motion.

There’s also the matter of the different types of stretches one engages in in their daily video programming. Some of them, depending on the individual’s mobility, are actually quite difficult. Someone with severe lack of range of motion won’t get the same response ROMWOD or other templated mobility routines that generally is assumed to occur.We do understand there are a few people who enjoy ROMWOD as an activity rather than a tool of training. If this is the case, you should keep doing it. We don’t want to deprive people of activities they enjoy.

Instead of doing ROMWOD to improve your mobility, you should get assessed by a coach or a movement practitioner who understands the demands of your sport. Such experts will be able to systematically address your specific weaknesses and work with you to improve them over time with repeated assessments to chart progression. They will take into account your past movement history, sports you’ve played, injuries you’ve had, your day-to-day, and other factors all of which influence the way that you move today. Without this, you’re essentially leaving improvements in movement quality to guesswork.

However, we do recognize that the majority of those that participate in ROMWOD do so because they have mobility and range of motion issues they want to improve.

If you are someone who is “tight” ROMWOD might not be a great choice for you due to the tension in your tissues. More active based ROM drills might suit you better.

If you are someone who is mobile but has areas that are “tight” ROMWOD might not be a great choice for you as you probably lack strength, motor control, and stability at those joints. More static holds. Strength progressions, and tension based pieces would be more prudent for your areas.

What are your thoughts on ROMWOD? Let us know in the comments below.

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3 Comments

  1. You guys should check out http://www.movementvault.com. (Shameless plug :D) We help athletes increase their flexibility, mobility, and movement utilizing active techniques including self active and passive release, joint mobilizations and specific activation work. We also have a self assessment catalogue filled with videos to help you self-assess yourself to help you figure out what parts of your body you need to dedicate extra time to. We offer a new 15-minute video everyday that can be streamed from any device. The program was designed and programmed by Doctor of Physical Therapy, Dr. Grayson Wickham.

    To touch on the article: Movement Vault is very different than Romwod, outside of offering a new video everyday. We have high level athletes all over the world as well as those just getting in to fitness using our program and stating that the results they are seeing are better than any other program out. I agree with a lot of what this article discusses. Static stretching alone has been shown to decrease performance and increase injury risk. When it comes to being “tight” and having limited range of motion, the issue could be due to  “tight” connective tissue aka muscles, ligaments, etc, or could be due to a lack of activation and stability. Usually it is combination of the two, with each individual needing a little more on one side of the spectrum than the other. Romwod is very similar to yin yoga, which again is passive stretching for the most part and not optimal for increasing mobility and stability. If you are looking to relax and cool down Romwod is great, but if you are trying to utilize your time efficiently and truly make mobility progress, Romwod isn’t the most effective way. *Someone linked me to the article, so I had to chime in. If you have any questions you can reach out to me personally at grayson@movementvault.com or check us out on instagram @movementvault.

    1. agreed!! Much more of a fan of the movement vault! They are using contraction based ROM to help increase performance but it is also derived from FRC techniques. FRC (functional range conditioning), is great and provides immediate neuromuscular feedback almost like MAT (muscle activation techniques) do. I will still do “romwod” here and there or just some yoga to work on flexibility but not everyday like a lot of people are doing in their competitive athlete ventures.

  2. RomWod is pretty mint as it goes.
    I don’t train exceptionally hard or at any sort of level competively but I train 3 times a week, surf, free dive and so on. I’ve found RomWod to be very helpful in keeping me limber and looser than nothing at all. I’m a big unit and I feel very much better ,more mobile, less crampy and generally more agile across all the activities I do when use RomWod on a consistent basis. A lot of it’s programming seems to centred around hips flutes, lower back , hamstrings and quads which makes sense to me as it’s the centre where everything stems from. I’ve had less niggles and better movement hands down since following their programming everyday.
    The same could undoubtedly be said for following almost any stretching routine on a daily basis however my point is it does work and yes, at times it gets gnarly and that’s part of progression which is the main reason we undertake most things , to get better at them.

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