“The Rewards we reap in the pursuit of peak fitness are too great to abandon for a small risk of a catastrophic event over which we have very little control.”
--Julie Foucher,Med Student, CrossFit Games athlete
Whether you’re straight out of Foundations and brand new to Crossfit, or have earned your “veteran” status, it is no secret that the sport of Crossfit has adapted somewhat of a reputation for being “dangerous”, and injury-proned. As one of those “veteran” athletes that has been around the sport for 5 ½ years, I would immediately become defensive and say that Crossfit is no more dangerous than any other sport. Football players get concussions; soccer players tear their ACL’s; baseball and softball players experience an endless list of shoulder injuries. But that’s not to say that we can walk into the box every day without a care in the world, and assume that we are invincible, just to prove a point to all those haters out there. As Julie said above, to most, the risk of participating in Crossfit is well worth it, however, you still need to take care of you and stay safe.
Even the best of the best Crossfit athletes, who train day in and day out, have been known to injure themselves in this sport. Accidents happen. However, there are definitely ways that we can put ourselves in the best possible position to try and avoid these injuries from occurring. And should you be one of the unlucky ones that strains their back during a heavy squat, or pulls a hamstring during a 200 meter sprint—have no fear, your experienced and knowledgeable coaches are here!
So you’re asking, “What can I do to stay healthy and injury-free, and be the best crossfitter that I can possibly be?” Well, here are a few tips for you. (Sorry about all that rhyming, it was not intentional…. JK, it totally was.)
1. MOBILITY IS YOUR FRIEND!! DON’T SHUT HIM OUT.
I will be the first person to admit that I am not a fan of stretching, and warming up in general. I’ve always been like that. I’m just anxious to get to the “good stuff”. However, I’ve been an athlete long enough, and involved in this sport long enough (not to mention, I’m not a spry 16 year old anymore), to know what could go down if I don’t take the proper amount of time to mobilize the appropriate body parts before (and after) each day’s workout. Now, I’m not talking about running through our dynamic stretches real quick before getting to the barbell warm-up. I mean, stretching those lats before getting on the pull-up bar, opening up those hips before squatting, and rolling out those calves on the foam roller from all the box jumps and running you did the day before. We should all be taking a good 10-15 minutes every day to mobilize the muscles we will be using throughout class, and the ones that are hurting from the day before. And if you’re not really sure what body part you’re using for which movement, or what you should be stretching—ASK!! Your coaches are here for a reason. I have a degree in Physical Therapy, some of our other coaches have a background in Exercise Science or have had injuries of their own. And even if they don’t have those degrees, or haven’t been injured, they are leading you through classes because they have experience in this sport, and know what they are talking about. Take advantage of your resources!
2. DON’T FORGET YOUR “BROTEIN”
The amount/variety of supplements that crossfitters take is endless. Whether you’re trying to qualify for Regionals and make it to the Crossfit Games, or are just trying to stay in shape and healthy for your family, there are plenty of options out there for you to optimize your workouts, prevent that dreaded muscle soreness, and help you make all those gainzzzz you keep hearing about. There are pre-workout drinks, intra-workout drinks, post-workout drinks, fish oils, “O2 Golds”, etc. And while I may not be the best person to ask about what all you should be taking, I do know that once I began adding some of these supplements to my daily routine and workouts, I began feeling a lot better overall, less sore, and started seeing some better results. Again, please see your coaches, or visit one of your local supplement stores (I think the majority of us go to Supplement Superstores or Complete Supplements), and ask about what will work best for you and the results you want.
3. LEAVE THAT DARN EGO AT THE DOOR!!
Okay we get it, you were a Division 1 football star back in the year 1998. Or an All-American track athlete who just graduated from college. That is really fantastic for you, and you should be really proud. We are too. But you know what you are not? A Crossfit all-star. (At least not yet). Yes, you may catch on quicker than some, or may have some experience in weightlifting, but you are not an expert at THIS sport yet. Please let your coaches do their job in making sure that you are performing movements correctly and safely before you start trying to be the next Rich Froning. You may start out slower or lighter than you would like, or feel like you could, but trust me, it will be worth it in the end, and you will be lifting heavy “ish” and achieving “Badass” status in no time ☺.
4. TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE!!!
To slightly piggy-back above “ego” rant…. I’m sure you all remember your first Foundations class when we preached to you about “consistency before intensity” and “quality over quantity.” And if you don’t, shame on you, and we need to have a chat before you attend your next class. I cannot say enough about this. I have been at this sport for awhile now, and I still do not have perfect technique. Neither does our beloved, Shane McBride, and neither do the “Fittest Man and Woman on Earth” on some days. However, we have performed these movements enough to develop some consistency with them. Yes, everyone at some point gets tired during a workout and their form starts to break a little. It happens. But it’s having your coaches there to spot it, or knowing it yourself, and knowing when to slow down a little bit to correct it, that is key in keeping yourself from getting hurt. DO NOT sacrifice your form to score more reps and get a higher ranking on Wodify. While you may be lucky enough to stay injury-free performing this way, you are still only hurting yourself. Take your time in really paying special attention to the clean and snatch progressions we go through during class, and the tips that your coaches give you during your lifts (during our strength AND the metcons), and fix the things that need to be fixed before you go out like a maniac, hurt yourself, or give Crossfit (or worse, Crossfit 557) a bad reputation. As Shane says: “Smooth is fast, and fast is smooth”. The more efficient and consistent you can become in your movements in terms of technique, the faster you will move the barbell, in the safest way possible. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!!
So, now you know some of the best ways to keep yourself healthy and off the Crossfit disabled list. However, as I said before, accidents happen, and you may not always be 100% prepared to prevent injury. Should you be one of the #notblessed ones to experience an injury or setback, please do not get discouraged!! We have a ton of resources for you to get you back in tip-top shape in no time. Come in and see Dr. Jordan, or ask your coaches how you can modify the workout. If it is something more serious and you have to take some time off or require some physical therapy, still come in and see us, do your rehab exercises with us, or just visit and cheer on your fellow members. As Julie says, “The soreness, pain and even emotional ups and downs I experience in this pursuit [of fitness] are worthwhile knowing that I am preparing my body to surmount any physical task, recover from a catastrophic injury, and live a long, functional life with as few visits as possible to the “oh-so-dangerous” hospital.” (Minus, when she tore that Achilles of hers at regionals this past year.) And lastly, even if you cannot workout with us, you are still a part of our family, and we want to do our best to keep you motivated and coming back for more when it is safe to do so. So stretch on, take your brotein, don’t let that head of yours get too big, and practice, practice, practice!!