Injuries are a real pain. We’ve all been there: going about our business of smashing a WOD and all of a sudden felt that pain that indicates something is really wrong and our body is upset. Injuries are painful, they can sideline our progress, and they can be a real hassle… or worse. The truth is, we’ll all face injury from time to time. But, by following some some simple guidelines, we can work around and through injury and get back to crushing the WODs we love.
First things first: the majority of injuries can be prevented. Kelly Starrett, CrossFit’s movement and mechanics guru, owner of CrossFit San Francisco and creator of mobilitywod.com, says, “most of the typical musculo-skeletal dysfunction that people and athletes deal with is really just a preventable disease.” This is why we have all new athletes go through our Beginning CrossFit Series to learn how to move properly. This is why we spend the first 20 minutes of every class warming up and mobilizing your positions. This is why your Coach is constantly harping on your mechanics – even when you’re 25 minutes into an extremely difficult WOD and just trying to survive. So, how is your preventative care going? Are you punctual to class and getting a thorough warm-up in before your workout? Are you listening to cues and making sure your movements are done correctly all of the time? Don’t be the person who says, “I have tight hammies”; instead, be the person who spends the time necessary to change that deficiency. Remember: Flexibility and Coordination are 2 of CrossFit’s 10 fitness components. We’re only as strong as our weakest link.
If you feel pain, stop what you’re doing. If it feels sketchy, it probably is! As much as your Coaches love to push you, you know the difference between good pain and bad pain. If it’s bad, stop what you’re doing. It isn’t worth it to tough out a single WOD if it will sideline you for the next month of WODs.
If you are injured, seek out professional help. If it’s minor, your Coaches may be able to work with you in the gym. Your Coaches are knowledgeable in areas of injury and can point you in the right direction. If it’s major, seek out professional help (preferably someone who is familiar with words like CrossFit, paleo & squats). Chances are you’ll be able to find someone that has experienced something similar to help you along the way. So, network within the community and get the help you need.
When returning to the gym after an injury, be smart. If you’re returning from a shoulder injury and your first workout back calls for 75 pull-ups, talk to your Coach about modification options. It might mean less reps, a modification of the movement, or a different movement all-together. Your Coach is happy to help you get a workout setup that is right for you. The more information you can bring to your Coaches regarding your injury the better.
Injuries don’t have to sideline you! An ankle injury can be a great opportunity to work on those gymnastics movements. A wrist injury can be a great opportunity to focus on your squat program. Make a comprehensive list of what you can do and then talk to your Coach about a plan of attack while you’re unable to perform the WODs. The gym is open to you to use while you’re sidelined from classes. Prepare for the day that you’re able to come back 100% and plan on being better than you were before you were injured!
Try to understand why you got injured. Was your ankle injury due to inflexible calf muscles? Was your knee injury due to improper squat mechanics? Once you know what caused your injury, we can begin remedial work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
As you recover, take it slow. Give your body the proper time to recover fully. A few months off in the scheme of things won’t negate all of the work you’ve put in in the gym. Focus on getting stronger out of your injury. Take the time you have to work on your mobility in order to prevent future injuries. Don’t run from your weaknesses, tackle them head on.
Injuries are no bueno, but we can work around and through them. Your Coaches are here to support you and walk with you every step of the way toward recovery. There are countless stories of athletes that have been sidelined by injury and come back stronger than ever – join that list! Take care of yourself and give yourself every chance to get back into the best shape of your life.