Like with any other sport, there are two injury types you see in CrossFit, the overuse injury and the immediate injury where you gash your shins on a failed box jump or get a scrape from a barbell. The first kind—overuse–is becoming more and more common and it also happens to be the most debilitating type of injury if you’re not careful. Fortunately, overuse injuries can be avoided. Read on for how.
Some common overuse injuries:
- Strains. I personally have had low back, shoulder, wrist, hamstring, pectoral, and bicep strains over the last two of years from training regularly and slinging around heavy weight. This happens when you have too heavy loads, too much volume, and poor technique in some combination.
- Serious shoulder injury, such as a torn labrum. This is a huge deal, requires surgery to fix, and has a long rehab period. I’ve known half a dozen athletes in central Florida that have had shoulder surgery the past two years. Take care of your shoulders and avoid this injury at all costs.
- Terrible knee injury. Wearing your knees out from heavy squatting and sprinting and jumping. This is bad also. Take care of those knees just like you would your shoulders.
- Tendonitis. I had horrible Achilles tendonitis that hobbled me for almost a year due to recycling from high volume box jumps. I had to do extensive therapy and strengthening to get back to 100%. Also had elbow tendonitis that I couldn’t shake for several months because I was constantly loading them up on cleans and hanging from bars.
Here are 6 ways to avoid overuse injuries:
1. Take Time Off. This is the best preventative measure and also the hardest to stick too. CrossFitters love hitting the gym six days a week. Some of the more competitive among us go twice a day. That’s a recipe for an injury unless you’re religious about controlling your volume and intensity.
The CrossFit HQ recommended format of 3 days on, 1 off, 2 days on, 1 off, actually works great for giving tired muscles a rest and encouraging regeneration. If you’re beating your body up constantly, try this format.
I have a buddy who does primarily SealFit workouts, which are very high volume, and he takes every other day off. He hasn’t had an injury in two years. He’s also in terrific shape. Taking every other day off works.
If you’re really hurting, take an entire week off. You might lose a tiny sliver of fitness, but you’ll be healthier in the long run.
2. Mobility and Flexibility. Integrate mobility WODs and stretching into your weekly routine to increase flexibility and suppleness. This helps with correct technique during a WOD and regeneration after hours. Good technique equals less chance of an injury. Add in a few minutes of mobility every day for best results.
3. Regeneration. Integrate sports massage and Yoga into your plan. This stuff works…it will make a huge difference in your ability to recovery from a tough training regimen. Regeneration also takes on the form of rolling out with foam rollers and using a Lacrosse ball.
CrossFit Iron Legion now has a massage therapist on staff, sign up today and work out those tired muscles!
4. Reduce intensity during WODs. This is my favorite way to prevent injury. It’s also the least utilized by CrossFitters because it carries the stigma of “sandbagging” a workout.
In a given week, I’ll control my intensity on 2-3 workouts, and by control I mean I’ll only go at 60-70% speed. I may combine this by reducing the weight, which makes the WOD an “easy and slow” WOD. This puts less load on your joints, causes less muscle fatigue, allows more recovery between reps, and is safer overall. If I throw in a couple of controlled WODs per week, I reduce the chance of overuse injury dramatically. On the other hand, it allows me to go harder and faster on the 2-3 WODs that I want to compete in.
What does easy and slow intensity look like? When you’re done with the WOD, you should be walking and talking easily, instead of on your back making a sweat angel.
Personally, I try to go race intensity on Friday and Saturday, with easy on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I go moderate to high intensity on Wednesday, but not completely balls out. This allows me to do more volume without as much risk. I may not get as high up on the whiteboard on those days, but it keeps me healthy.
5. Sleep. A lot. This should go without saying, but it needs to be said. Your body heals while you’re asleep. Get 8-9 hours per night of quality sleep to maintain a sound mind and body.
6. Physical Therapy…we now offer it at the Box through Kelli Davis DPT, GCS, CEEAA. If you’re hurting and think you’re developing an overuse issue, we can refer you to Kelli right away for an evaluation. This initial evaluation allows Kelli to prescribe professional therapy targeted at a quick recovery as well as a scaled WOD program in parallel with our Daily WODS that will get you back in the game. Your recovery is our first priority!
CrossFit Iron Legion is the fastest growing CrossFit affiliate in Ocala, Florida. To get started, please contact Coach Ted Dreaver at (352) 620-2625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.