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Iron Legion

Heart of the Matter

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Mobility image

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 teddreaver@hotmail.com.

Choosing a CrossFit gym is not only about proximity to your home or work. Every CrossFit gym will have its own “personality” and it’s important that you visit a few of them before you choose. Try the free intro WODS and interact with the trainers and the members. Find the right fit for you and your CrossFit experience will be that much more rewarding!

With over 4200 CrossFit boxes worldwide and more opening up every month, chances are there are more than one CrossFit gym in your community. In Ocala, home of CrossFit Iron Legion, there are five affiliates as of the end of 2012. If you’re thinking about trying CrossFit and don’t know which gym is right for you, there are several keys to picking the right one.

Coaching. The trainers are key because they will be coaching you every time you walk into the gym. Look for trainers that are fired up to coach new members and not bias their coaching towards one type of member versus another. Also look for coaches that are excellent communicators and know how to break down some of the complicated movements into simple drills and concepts.

Programming. Programming is the CrossFit term for training, and when deciding on a gym, what kind of training each particular gym offers can make a big difference. This is a little bit tougher to evaluate, especially if you’re new, because programming changes on a daily basis and you might not be experienced enough to evaluate. What I recommend is trying the free workout at several gyms in your area and ask good questions of either the owner or the coaches. Do they focus on strength work? Body weight movements? Olympic lifting? Do they have a competition track or do they cater to new people or both?

Here’s an example of why programming is important. You might be a competitive athlete, having done a sport in college, and your sport was of the endurance variety. You want to get stronger. Some gyms specialize in strength training and do less metcon WODs. And, there might be only one gym in your area that sends athletes to competitions. That could be the gym for you.

On the flipside, if you’re only interested in losing weight and getting generally fit, you might want to pick the gym that focuses more on metcon and bodyweight training and less on weight lifting. Evaluate your own fitness goals and see which gym compliments those goals.

Community. Not every gym is created equal. Some gyms have stronger communities than others. Consider how many members each gym has and how close knit they are. Do they support each other? Are they welcoming of new members? Do they do events together outside of the gym? Are there cliques or do the members not interact at all?

Something to consider is the demographic of each gym. An example might be one gym is comprised mostly of college students because of it’s proximity to the local university, while another has mostly working professionals. Look for a gym where the character fits what you’re looking for and is welcoming of new members.

CrossFit Iron Legion is a the fastest growing CrossFit affiliate in Ocala, Florida. To get started, please contact Coach Ted Dreaver at (352) 620-2625 or teddreaver@hotmail.com.