Let’s start by being entirely transparent. CrossFit is intense and the workouts can be absolutely demolishing. I have personally done workouts that from the start had me thinking “looks good, should be pretty fun” but by the time it was over had me thinking “why isn’t there any air in my lungs” as I lay on the gym floor feeling entirely destroyed. I have myself, like many others, been injured due to a Crossfit workout. As some uninformed people may tell you “Crossfit will end up with you getting hurt”, this isn’t always the case. Having great coaches who understand your current level of fitness and health is paramount when it comes to being successful in the world’s fastest growing sport. It’s important to gradually progress into Crossfit, especially if you are just making a lifestyle or fitness change, even if you consider yourself fit and active (like myself doing more than my body was conditioned for at the time).
With that in mind, it’s important to cover some of the major factors influencing what may lead to injuries from Crossfit and how you can minimize the risk of injury while promoting the all the benefits that come with it.
First things first, there is A LOT of movement in Crossfit. More than first time Crossfit athletes may be aware of when starting out. The combination of Olympic style weightlifting, gymnastics, plyometrics, and cardio exercises require a range of motion, control, and strength that not everyone is capable of when starting. Affording your body proper movement mechanics is one of the best ways that chiropractic treatments can help benefit you in Crossfit. Restoring proper mobility or stability (whichever is needed and will vary individually) in certain areas of the body using adjustments and specific mobility/stability training exercises can quickly improve painful movements athletes are experiencing.
Speaking of pain, it’s important to live and die by the classic “no pain, no gain” right? Well, unfortunately, no, that’s simply wrong. Pain is an alarm system in the body letting you know that something is not functioning right. It doesn’t necessarily mean something is already injured, although it could, but that something is happening that is leading you toward being hurt. It’s important to understand the difference between being sore after workouts and being in pain. Using muscles more than you’re used to can leave you feeling tight, achy, and sore all over. Soft tissue treatment on these areas of the body with chiropractic care can improve recovery quality, decrease the time needed for rest, and give you an edge to getting more work done in your workouts. Challenging and pushing yourself is important for both physical and personal growth. Pain and actual injury, however, is not and will keep you out of the gym longer than you want. So if something feels painful, tell your coach to scale the activity if possible and get it assessed by an appropriate healthcare professional.
It’s also important to understand the quality of the movements you’re doing rather than simply the quantity. Granted that movement will vary slightly from one person to the next, it’s important to recognize and understand the fundamentals of what makes up a good squat, deadlift, or overhead press. Great coaches will help critique your form so you do the moves properly and can accomplish a more effective workout, not simply because they’re trying to “point out how bad you’re moving.” Getting a painful movement assessed through chiropractic is also beneficial in understanding how areas of the body function together. For example, if your shoulder internally rotates too much during a movement due to tight pecs, your shoulder blade has a harder time controlling or stabilizing the movement happening around it, forcing larger muscles in the neck or upper trap area to do work they aren’t necessarily designed to do. Working with a chiropractor experienced in identifying and improving movement dysfunction like this is a great way to help keep you hitting your Crossfit workouts with the intensity you need too.
When it comes to ways you may want to improve your CrossFit game, you can step up your nutrition and recovery or work more one-on-one with a high-level coach. The biggest thing you should be doing is making sure that you are giving your body all the TLC that it needs to perform optimally when it comes to movement. Top level athletes are always taking care of their bodies, and many pros such as Derrick Rose, Jerry Rice, Tiger Woods, and Aaron Rodgers have all praised chiropractic care for helping them perform along the way. At the end of it all, if you want to perform well in the sport of working out, give yourself as much of an advantage when it comes to the quality of your movements and staying out of pain.