OBSERVATIONS ON THE PASSING STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING SCENE PART 3: CROSSFIT DOESN’T HURT PEOPLE. PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE.
We’re are amused by the concept of CrossFit being “dangerous” and the misguided belief that upon entering a CrossFit gym you will experience spontaneous bone fracturing and joint explosion.
Back in the early days of CrossFit Suffolk, in 2008, when we had to walk, barefoot in the snow, 5 miles each way, just to get to the gym, we never heard about CrossFit Injuries (yes, apparently they have their own category). Nobody asked us if “they would be injured” or if it was dangerous. I feel like people were tougher way back then. In fact, one of our first members, Hector Delgado, was a wounded warrior, a Marine Corp veteran of the Global War On Terrorism. Hector returned from Iraq with a crushed pelvis and a wheelchair. Hector didn’t come in and ask if he would be injured. He asked if we could help make him better. We answered with the only truthful answer we could think of: we didn’t know. End result, Hector wound up losing 70 lbs., while having to use a wheelchair or braces, and he became strong and fit. Did he experience pain and discomfort along the way? Absolutely! Was the pain because of CrossFit? I suppose that all depends on how you look at it. Had Hector gone to any gym, trainer or therapist he would have experienced pain and discomfort. That was unavoidable. I’m willing to bet if you asked Hector he would tell you the pain from doing nothing was much worse, physically and emotionally. What does Hector’s story have to do with you?
I thought you’d never ask. Two main things. The first being nearly everyone has some physical issue. Some know about their issues and some are unaware. It is rare to find an adult that doesn’t have a medical condition, an old injury, a posture issue or a motor skill issue. These issues do not stop the type of person who is attracted to CrossFit from training, from improving. Having one or more of these issues can turn into an injury or a new injury. These issues can turn into injuries regardless of what type of training you do or if your only hobby is gardening or watching television. And many are completely unaware that they even have an issue. In fact, it is our belief that CrossFit doesn’t cause injuries as much as it facilitates identifying issues and conditions in it’s participants. We have even observed, on occasion, the intensity of the workouts bring up a deeply repressed emotional issue.
The other thing we learn from Hector’s story is Don’t Be A Pussy. Worrying about being injured from the controlled environment of a top notch gym is rather silly. This doesn’t apply to most CrossFitters, only the ones who contemplate all the ways they could get hurt on a given day. They say a coward “dies a thousand deaths.” The coward will imagine all the ways in which he could be killed and most of it is based on nothing. Could you be injured CrossFitting? This question is insulting and a waste of precious time. Of course you could be hurt CrossFitting just like you could be hurt changing a lightbulb, driving, playing miniature golf and walking down the street. A better question is should you get injured while CrossFitting? Of course the answer to that is, “NO, BUT……” We all have to do risk-management with every aspect of our lives. We manage risk at CrossFit by having rules in place, having proper supervision, using sound training principles and by taking personal responsibility.
Personal responsibility includes: 1) Being aware of your surroundings, your environment. Know who and what is around and where “danger” may come from. Is there an errant barbell collar on the floor waiting to trip you and ruin your day.
2) Be aware of yourself. Are you injured? Are you experiencing a problem with a particular movement? Are you sick? Is your posture horrendous? If the Power Snatch hurts your shoulders you don’ have to do it. This isn’t being the P-word, it’s being smart. If your knees hurt when you squat then don’t squat. It’s okay. The CrossFit-police will not come after you. Everything is going to be alright. Your duly qualified coach can come up with a substitute. Don’t let your ego be in charge of your programming. Your ego doesn’t care about you being injured. Your ego is a leading cause of injury. Your ego is not your friend.
3) Stay focused. Thoughts of every other aspect of your life have no business in your mind while you are training. Distractions and mentally relaxing before the workout is over will lead to an accident like missing a box jump.
4) Don’t invent your own training method or routine without running it by a coach first. There’s a fine line between creative genius and an act of lunacy. Don’t be a lunatic.
5) Trust your intuition and engage your common-sense. Did you happen to notice that the above 5 tips apply to all of life and not just gym Risk-Management? You’re welcome. What about the CrossFit exercises and the CrossFit method? The exercises that make up CossFit are the same exercises that have been around longer than anyone reading this. Methods unique to CrossFit are things like kipping pull-ups and “high-rep” Olympic Lifts. Simple solution. If an athlete finds either one of these things troublesome don’t do them. You can still CrossFit without these unique CrossFit features. You may not be able to compete at a high level, but not everyone is going to be a high-level CrossFit athlete. You can still enjoy the benefits of the training.
So many CrossFitters can perform kipping pull-ups and high-rep Olympic Lifts without incident and with good results that it would be silly to ban them for everyone. There are those with motor skill and posture issues that will not be able to perform certain exercises or movements without discomfort and pain. Some of the exercises are not for everyone. There is enough exercise inclusion in CrossFit for anybody with a good attitude to get and stay strong and fit. You can work around most limitations.
Speaking of high-rep Olympic Lifts…what is the magical number of reps that is acceptable to do? I’ve heard various answers, but nobody is ever able to cite a legitimate study that says you should only do X-number of Power Cleans or your shoulders will disintegrate. What is considered “high-rep”? There’s not too many workouts that require more than 45 reps of Olympic Lifts. Is 45 too many? It seems that anyone with healthy shoulders, a mobile thoracic spine and good technique can handle high rep Olympic Lifts without a problem. Those with unhealthy shoulders, an immobile thoracic spine and poor technique are a CrossFit horror story waiting to happen, but that person would be a nightmare in any gym if their issues went uncorrected.
We’ll continue this topic tomorrow because there is more to address. So let’s recap what we learned here today:
1) The worst disability to have as a CrossFitter is a bad attitude.
2) Don’t be a p***y.
3) Awareness on every level is good for your survival and performance.
4) If you find some aspect of training not healthy for you then modify, scale or eliminate that exercise until you can fix your issue.
We will continue tomorrow with discussions on Rhabdo, lowlifes who use hysteria to bash CrossFit to get their name out into the blogosphere and how to go about fixing yourself if you have moving/motor skill issues. See you back here tomorrow. Go train!—George
Symbol courtesy of Hyperfit (CrossFit Ann Arbor)
Workout of the Day
500 meter row
3 rounds of:
30 double unders
20 Russian kettlebell swings
–OR– Make up a WOD that you missed this week.
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