Is CrossFit that bad? Ten years ago when I was in PT school my answer would have been a vehement, YES! Now, as an older, wiser and practicing Doctor of Physical Therapy who has participated in CrossFit since 2015, the answer is a hard NO.
The risk of being injured participating in CrossFit is no different than going out for a run, enjoying your favorite local Globo Gym, playing with you children, etc. Nothing is without risk. PT colleagues, chiropractors and other healthcare providers cite research performed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) showing that injuries and CrossFit go together like peanut butter and jelly.
A recent ruling, 4DEC19, awarded CrossFit, Inc. a huge win regarding said “research”. It was proved that the NSCA had published a study which contained “false and fabricated data” regarding CrossFit’s injury rates. Read more about it here.
There is no added risk for participating in CrossFit…there, I said it.
CrossFit does a much better job at exposing movement deficits and compensatory movement patterns faster than any amount of running, lifting, etc. ever could. I feel that THIS is where CrossFit owners, coaches, trainers and athletes could do a better job. Being a CrossFit Athlete requires a lot of self-awareness and being honest with one’s self. Unfortunately, this results more in a level of subjective objectivity when it comes to banging out a few extra reps, rounds or attempting a new PR. Most people know when something is wrong in their body or when a tissue is becoming progressively irritated but what I’ve observed in the CrossFit community is that many Athletes are willing to overlook these chronic aches and pains in order to continue to punish themselves with the next workout.
Coaches, this is where you come in;
1. Emphasize biomechanical prerequisites for a movement.
2. Recognize the biomechanical faults.
3. Fix the biomechanical faults.
If you know the movement prerequisites as described in the coaching manual but can’t pick them apart in an Athlete standing in front of you – work with a Physical Therapist that can help you become a better coach.
If you know the prerequisites but can’t recognize faults and aberrations in movements – work with a Physical Therapist that can help you become a better coach.
If you’re good on the prerequisites and can identify movement faults all day long but don’t know how to go about fixing the faults – aside from handing the Athlete a lacrosse ball or monster band – insist on the Athlete seeing a Physical Therapist that help them become a better Athlete.
They will end up moving better, being stronger and becoming a better CrossFit Athlete...and you will be the badass coach that helped them become the better Athlete.
Athletes, you’ve got to be honest with yourselves. If a body part hurts regularly following a workout or a specific movement, you’ve got to resolve the issue. If you continue to kick the can down the road and just hope that the issue goes away, you’re fooling yourself.
Chronically irritated tissue will eventually fail.
Most musculoskeletal issues are the result biomechanical load issues, meaning you’re lacking full range of motion, appropriate strength/control and/or appropriate tissue loading capacity.
Rest. Will. Not. Improve. ANY. Of. These. Variables.
Neither will anti-inflammatories, injections, ice/heat, KT taping, etc.
All of these may make you feel better temporarily, buying you a little window of relief, but it makes no long term changes to the tissue in question.
Suggestions for Coaches & Athletes:
1. Active Rest & Recovery - Give your body time to heal between workouts. More punishment is not better. If you feel fatigued, notice a steady decrease in performance or you're taking DAYS to recover from a workout; you're most likely overtraining. Split up training days with active rest/recovery days; go for a walk, stretch, ride a bike, row. Do something other than lifting weights.
2. Listen to your body - if a body part(s) get chronically irritated following a specific workout or movement, come see us. Get a full body assessment that involves determining the source of the chronic irritation and the prescription of a game plan to resolve it.
3. Scaling is OK - Being injured or working through a problem area does not mean you must stop working out altogether. You can scale movements and workouts to get the most out your membership while other tissues heal. If you or your coach have questions on appropriate scaling or just need scaling ideas, call us for help!