Avoiding Injuries in Your Workouts
Let's talk about the elephant in the room. People are intimidated by CrossFit because they think they’ll get hurt. As much as this perception absolutely kills me, it’s a common conversation to have these days. So, let's talk about it!
I’ve been doing this for almost a decade now and have had just one workout-related injury in that time*. How have how I managed to survive with my limbs and head attached for so long in an environment so commonly deemed as dangerous? While I’d be a naive fool to write out a definitive guide to anything as complex as the human body, there are some points that I’ve picked up over the years that will serve you well to keep in mind through your fitness endeavors (whether that’s in a CrossFit gym or not).
First, you control what goes on with your body; not the speed, weight, or pace of what you’re doing. Ever notice how your stride breaks down at the end of your long runs when you’re tired? Instead of fighting through those last few miles, I would argue that if you can’t fix what’s going on, you should stop! How about lifting weights? Can you get a technical rep with a ton of weight, but only by making sacrifices that make onlookers cringe? Brah, you should have stopped putting weight on that bar a long time ago. Listen to your body!
What we do in the gym is practice. Sure, it’s fun to be competitive with our friends, but every day is not a competition. There are instances when it makes sense to test what we’re maximally capable of (how fast you can run a given distance, how quickly can you do a workout, how much can you squat, etc.), but those all-out efforts should be the vast minority of what we do. How many practice sessions do professional athletes complete (especially those in physically demanding sports) relative to the amount of time they spend practicing? The difference is exponential.
Why are you here? I keep this in mind whenever I go to class because without reminding myself that all I really care about is being in shape, it’s all too easy to begin measuring the result of my efforts by comparing to what the person next to me is doing. Again, competition is fun and fuels us to do great things. But if it’s our everything, we’ll eventually end up on track to burnout and injury. The reason you’re here might be different from mine, but I feel safe in assuming that—even for the most competitive among us—it’s not just to do better than the person next to you every time you work out. Know why you’re here!
Remember the basics. Bodyweight squats come before weighted back squats, come before overhead, etc. The building blocks we use aren’t just for beginners, but rather, provide a progression that we can fall back on when we need. Whether work’s been kicking your butt or you were up all night with a screaming baby, stress is real and can have an effect on our gym performances that we need to pay attention to. Keeping in mind that there are always movements we can take a step back to (only temporarily—settle down!) will help us get in a workout without overdoing it when things aren’t ideal. Modifying the workout based on how you feel is more a sign of ego-free maturity than it is a sign of weakness or regression. So, play the long game here and let the foundational movements (and your coach—hi) serve as a guide when you need them.
This whole post—and, in turn, my coaching—could probably come off as soft from time to time. The truth of the matter, though, is that if me holding you back a little bit now means that you can continue to be a healthy, fit person for the rest of your days, that up-front trade-off is one that I’ll stand behind any day of the week.
See you in the gym!
*I hurt my shoulder 6 years ago when I let my ego get the best of me and tried to muscle my way through a movement I didn’t have technique dialed in on yet. Learn from my mistakes!