How To Stay Injury Free In CrossFit
While it is true that no sport is injury free; with proper training we can not only reduce the risk of injury, we can make our bodies more resistant to injury. CrossFit should be as safe if not safer than any fitness program. I’m going to highlight the key elements that will make you more resilient and far more likely to be injury free!
Injuries put the brakes on our progress. Aside from that, they just plain suck. Preventing injury is first and foremost a mindset. Our motto is ‘Move well, then move fast and heavy’. If you live by this, you are a thousand times more likely to go injury free and you will see more gains. Watch the elite crossfitters. Their rep 101 looks exactly like rep 1. This not an accident, nor is it just natural. This comes from extreme attention to detail and pride in how well they are doing things.
Greater potential is the other big factor in doing things the right way. Kobe Bryant was a remarkable athlete with ridiculous fade away shots (copied from MJ) and drives to the hoop. What you don’t see, is the thousands of hours he’s spent on the fundamentals, the 100s of free throws and layups he did every day, or the drills he did before games. Most elite athletes understand the importance of mastering the basics.
In CrossFit and gymnastics, we use a term called ‘virtuosity’. It means, doing the common uncommonly well. Live by this in the gym and your results will come free of injury.
‘Move well, then move fast and heavy’
How Injuries Happen
CrossFit offers a tremendous variety of movements and schemes. We work at high intensities. It is one of the few programs that dares to include upper level gymnastics, powerlifting, and Olympic weightlifting. These modals take time and effort to become proficient at. No one is good at these exercises on day one. Going blasto Hercules style off the bat is disastrous.
CrossFit is offered and scalable to EVERYONE. We encourage people to join us regardless of ability. This it is not just a gnarly program for the elite who already possess these skills. Most people who join us have not been exposed to the technical demands of the exercises. I certainly was not and I’ve been a trainer for many years! Not having experience in these styles does not mean we can not learn and benefit from them but it does mean we need to be careful and patient. I think it is FUN to gain competency. I enjoy learning and getting better at things. It is rewarding. So, I highly recommend you be patient and just enjoy the process.
Two causes for injury:
- Improper movement patterns at high intensity can cause harm. These movements are learned over time and cause problems throughout the body. The great thing about this as it relates to crossfit is that these imbalances come to light when doing some of these exercises. Then we gain an awareness that wasn’t there before allowing us a chance for the right training strategy to fix the kinks. Correcting these have far greater benefits than improving your crossfit abilities. Moving better will keep the joints oiled for years to come! Improving movement patterns can cure pains throughout the body including back conditions, headaches, tightness and more. Crossfit is about intensity but understand that intensity is relative to ability and fitness levels. Slow it down and learn this stuff.
- Limited mobility and range of motion. This goes along with improper movement patterns but is not the same. Lack of flexibility will make it difficult to get in optimal positions. This can lead to injury and deserves attention. Stretching and soft tissue work will help a lot. What helps even more, is practicing the movements and challenging yourself to get in the right positions.
Preventing Injuries Is Simple
Three things to keep the train rolling on its tracks:
- Listen to your coaches. We aren’t trying to be mean if we correct you during a workout or suggest a lighter load. It is our job to keep you safe and get you the results you deserve. We care about you!
- Ask questions! Please ask questions if you are unsure of something. That is what we are here for.
- Stretch. Before you leave, take 5-10 minutes to cool down with static stretches. This means holding a stretch for AT LEAST :30. Upwards of 2 minutes is better. Here are a few of my favorites
- pigeon. This is awesome for the hips! When the glutes get tight they can cause problems with the lumbar and the sciatic nerve. Keep these muscles happy with this stretch daily.
- Scorpion. This stretch is fantastic for the shoulders.
- Warm-up. Warming up can make all the difference in the world of fitness performance. Get to class early enough to warm up with the group if not a little beforehand if possible. Hop on a rower to get the core temperature up and prep the body for higher demand.
- Practice the movements that give you the most trouble. This may be the most important thing you can do. If you are doing them the right way with core engagement and alignment, injury is unlikely.
- Scale it back. Don’t be ‘that guy’. You know, the guy or gal that reads the whiteboard like Ron Burgundy reads the teleprompter (“Go F*** yourself San Diego”). Just because Rx says something does not mean that is the right prescription for you. Its cool to scale. Scaling means getting the right stimulus out of the workouts which means greater results!
The ultimate goal here is longevity! I’m not sure about you but I want to be going strong for as long as possible. I plan to be power cleaning in my nineties. Think I’m being hyperbolic. Nope. If I don’t choke on my fruity pebbles or get mauled by a bear (low risk in Liberty MO), I’ll still be at it.
Our aim, is to keep you safe by challenging you to do things the right way, push you to get better, and give you a great fitness experience.
Thank you for reading! Please let me know if this was helpful and if you have any questions put them in the comment section. Happy to help any way I can.