There are huge misconceptions about CrossFit and injury. Many people who know very little about CrossFit and/or injury love to talk. We could talk about injury rate comparisons, benefit vs risk, ACSM research fraud, functional movement and injury prevention... the list goes on and on. Today I just want to focus on taking a common situation and handling it correctly.
Injury, specifically athletic orthopedic injury, is a topic I am very passionate about. I have spent 6 years of my college education studying anatomy, physiology, human movement, injury cause, prevention, care, rehabilitation, and performance. I have thoroughly studied these topics and have applied my education working with college athletes, physical therapy patients, and for orthopedic physicians as an athletic trainer.
I can sum up ALL of my knowledge and experience for you in six words.
"IF IT HURTS, DON'T DO IT!"
Is this oversimplifying something as complex as our bodies? Maybe. But if more people lived by this, especially CrossFitters, life would be a lot easier. We all get aches and pains here and there. Pain is not necessarily injury. There are two types of injury: acute and chronic. ACUTE would be those of you come to the box and tell your coach you heard your knee "pop" doing some Whip Nae Nae dance (I honestly had an athlete tell me this yesterday) or if you go out for your warm-up jog and come back with a sprained ankle because you fell in a hole. These things happen. Can they be avoided? Sure, we can try to prevent them by improving your balance, agility, proprioception, and by developing excellent movement patterns inside the controlled environment of our gym, but shit happens. CHRONIC or overuse injuries occur gradually over time. THIS IS USUALLY A SOURCE OF FRUSTRATION FOR MANY ATHLETES AND COACHES.
Here is what I have found to be a typical CHRONIC INJURY SCENARIO:
Athlete Day 1: "Hmm... my wrist kind of hurts today after those cleans and during handstand holds."
Athlete Day 2: "Bench press today, yes! My wrist is still hurting from yesterday but I really want to PR my 3RM!" Goes home in more pain.
Athlete Day 7: "My wrist is getting worse. Let me just put more tape on it with a wrist wrap and hope it gets better." It does NOT get better... WHY WOULD IT?!
Two weeks Later....
COACH: "Where have you been, I haven't seen you in a while!"
Athlete: "Hey, coach! Yeah, my wrist has been hurting for a few weeks. I went to the doctor and she gave me these pain meds, a brace, and told me not to do anything for 2 weeks."
COACH: "What... the..."
HOW THIS SITUATION SHOULD HAVE WENT:
Athlete Day 1: "Hmm... my wrist kind of hurts today after those cleans and during handstand holds..." Mentions this to Coach.
Coach: "Where does it hurt? Okay. Looking at your front rack position, you could work on your shoulder mobility. Let's target the lats and triceps which can ease up some of that stress on your wrist. In the meantime, roll out your forearm a bit to relieve some of those structures that are causing you a little discomfort. Let's lay off this a day or so until this calms down a bit and in the meantime we can modify around it" NO PROBLEM!
Athlete Day 3,4, or 5. "I'm going to make up that bench day I missed!"
Yay! Hooray! We all move on with our lives and you just saved yourself a few weeks of frustration. Give me ANY injury or pain and I could program you something shitty in 5 minutes that won't involve your affected area. Give me two, I dare you. In fact, I would LOVE to. It's what I do and it's why I am here. Don't feel like you are whining or being a sissy if you verbalize your concerns with pain in the gym. Remember why you're here. Help US help YOU.