…..Now…let’s see…where was I?

Oh yeah…Rhabdo, CrossFit Bashers and how to fix your biomechanical problems.  Check.

“Rhabdo” is actually called Rhabdomyolysis. according to the Sports Injury Bulletin, is “a condition in which muscle membranes, which normally act as ‘wrappers’ around muscle cells and securely enclose the cells’ contents, begin to break down.”  The significance of Rhabdo, for our purpose, is some folks in the training community and some in the medical community have implied that it is a medical condition that affects nobody, but CrossFitters.  I’m going to be as brief as possible on this for time reasons and because if you find the topic so fascinating you can access plenty of information on the internet.

To the best of my knowledge CrossFit offers the only trainer certification where Rhabdo is thoroughly covered.  This is because Rhabdo is brought on by intense physical exertion along with dehydration in a person who is not up to the physical demands of the workout that caused the Rhabdo.  It is also brought on by “crushing” injuries like someone may endure during an industrial or motor vehicle accident.  There have been cases of CrossFitters suffering from Rhabdo, but they are few and far between.  I’m sorry, but I don’t have CrossFit-specific statistics and I only know of one person who suffered from Rhabdo.  (I won’t be going into it here, but if you bring me a Starbucks tall, Black Eye with heavy cream (cold cream, not steamed), I’ll tell you the story.  No, I didn’t cause the Rhabdo.)

You know where there is plenty of cases of Rhabdo?  C’mon, take a guess.  If you said high-level collegiate sports you are correct!  That’s right.  The bastions of higher learning and the -super educated, super-duper-cutting-edge-all-knowing-all-seeing-I-have-a-degree-that-says-I’m-smarter-than-you college strength and conditioning Lords Of The Athletic World have nearly killed little, innocent college-aged children, way more than all 6,000 CrossFit affiliates combined.

Now before you go accusing me of being angry let me say for the record that I believe there are plenty of highly intelligent, competent strength and conditioning coaches within our institutions of higher learning and I believe a college education is a very valuable thing to pursue and possess. Okay, now back to bashing college strength coaches.

Check out RHABDOMYOLYSIS LAID LOW 6 ATHLETES from The Columbus Dispatch (March 9, 2013).  The article describes how 6 members of the Ohio State Women’s Lacrosse team were hospitalized for Rhabdomyolysis after a team practice.  The article also lists incidents of other collegiate athletes from around these United States and how they were hospitalized after a team conditioning session.  The athletes are from football, soccer, and swim teams, with football players having the most contributions to team Rhabdo.  No mention of CrossFit in that particular article.  Huh!  That’s weird.

Check out A GROWING DANGER FOR ATHLETES from the February 6, 2011 LA Times, where a Doctor Lyle Micheli, the Director of sports medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, states, “There is more risk of it [Rhabdo] now because the use of strength coaches is becoming more widespread“.  No mention of CrossFit in this article either.  The good doctor was talking about college level strength coaches.  How can this be?  Don’t these strength coaches have degrees in Exercise Physiology, Kinisiology or Physical Education and not some certification that you can get by paying $1000.00 and attending a weekend course?  More Rhabdo at the college level BECAUSE of strength coaches??  What???????????????????

 Here’s the ironic part that nobody has mentioned.  I don’t know the background of anyone involved in the cases reported in the above two news articles, but I’m willing to bet if these collegiate athletes had at least a 6 months of CrossFit at one of the affiliates they would not have suffered from Rhabdo.  They would have built up the adaptations and resilience necessary to protect themselves.

I honestly feel bad for the athletes that went through this and for the coaches that caused it.  I’m sure everyone involved had good intentions.  My point here is do you suppose any parents who read these news stories went to any of their friends and said, “Don’t let your kids play college sports.  They’ll get Rhabdo.”  Or, “Don’t let your kids play college sports.  It’s too dangerous.”  I don’t think so either, but we know there are misinformed people telling their friends, “Don’t do CrossFit…it’s too dangerous, you’ll get Rambo and you don’t wanna mess with that guy.” 

When we affiliated at the very beginning of 2008 there were approximately 400 CrossFit locations world-wide.  There are now somewhere around 6-7,000.  CrossFit bashing is a popular sport nowadays.  Apparently when there were less than 1,000 CrossFit gyms CrossFit wasn’t fun to bash.  Now we have ignorant and/or immoral people jumping on the Bash CrossFit bandwagon for the simple reason that to do so will bring them all kinds of attention.  It is easier and less expensive than hiring a public relations firm and there are some that play this up to the best of their ability.  How do I know?  They use inflammatory rhetoric to attempt to cause hysteria and fear where it isn’t warranted.  They make nothing, but negative claims and never acknowledge the positive aspects of CrossFit.  They never acknowledge the influence CrossFit has had on other Strength and Conditioning gyms that don’t do CrossFit.  They never acknowledge the breath of life CrossFit breathed into the sport of Weightlifting.  We refuse to name them or their body of work because that’s what they want.  I will not help them receive any attention if I can help it.

Here’s the important stuff, as promised.  Bringing your attention back to biomechanical issues, we have to recognize them. Identify them.  That is the coaches job for the most part.  We are fortunate, more than most of the CrossFit affiliates.  If Lisa and I or any of the other coaches cannot properly fix a biomechanical issue we can refer the athlete to Max Effort Physical Therapy and specifically, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Jon Belmonte.  Jon will find the exact biomechanical problem, treat if necessary and prescribe exercises to correct the issue so it is not an issue anymore.  And he’s located in the building with us!  Besides being a great physical therapist Jon is a former Division I lacrosse player and a current CrossFitter.  Jon gets it!  Jon has never suffered from Rhabdo despite having played a collegiate sport.   Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

It’s not uncommon to have biomechanical issues because of excessive wear on the body from a life of sports, manual labor or major accidents.  It’s not uncommon to have biomechanical issues from doing absolutely nothing but stuffing your face while you watch TV.  Problems also occur from sitting all day.  Whatever the case the issues have to be fixed.  The sooner a problem is identified and corrected the sooner that athlete will be able to improve his movement and reduce his chance of injury. 

What questions do you have?–George


Workout of the Day
Back Squat
1X3@70% 1RM
1X3@80% 1RM
1X3@90% 1RM

Remember: Use 90% of your 1 rep max as your 1 rep max!

For time:
30-20-10 of:

Single Arm KB Thrusters 24/16kg (divide reps equally between each arm)

Post your scores to the Whiteboard.

8 Responses

  1. Kelly R

    This is great George! Really enjoying!
    I love the dangerous comment I get from people as much as I love the ” I am going to get big and look like a guy comment”
    One of my bro in laws, every time I see him, reassures me to ” be careful ” with CrossFit. He actually told my husband that he shouldn’t let me do CrossFit because it’s dangerous and I could really hurt myself.
    ( side note nothing ” dangerous ” has happened to me yet )
    So the 1st time he said it I put my guard up, defending like crazy.
    This past weekend when it came up, I said ” why do you think it’s dangerous , it’s just exercise'” best response ever bc he just laughed- conversation done 🙂

  2. Jon B

    People go on witch hunts out of emotion rather than facts. Several years ago lacrosse was on the chopping block linked to a handful of deaths related to getting hit in the chest with the ball. All of a sudden every game was, “someone may die today”. They wanted to add equipment and change the ball along with style of play. Parents held meetings on whether we should be able to play anymore as if lacrosse (which has been played for hundreds of years) suddenly became more dangerous. Anyway, things changed when a 7 year old killed his 9 year old brother playing catch with a baseball by hitting him in the chest and everyone realized these were just coincidental tragedies. The good that came out of the scare was that AEDs are now mandatory at all athletic events. So like this after the rhabdo scare settles hopefully something positive will emerge. Sorry for the long story to make a short point

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