You can get hurt doing CrossFit. Yes, I said it. I can be honest with you by saying the chances of injuring oneself are higher in CrossFit than other exercise programs. Just as the wizards and witches of the Harry Potter books do not speak of Lord Voldemort, referring to him as “You-know-who” or “He-who-must-not-be-named,” crossfitters do not like to say the “I” or “H” word. We prefer to wear our pains like badges of honor and not even entertain the idea of being sidelined by inju…the “I” word.
But let’s not live our lives with our heads in the sand. Injuries occur too often in CrossFit and for good reason. In the past we just chalked it up to higher the reward, higher the risk. But I don’t believe it has to be this way. First, I want to say with all resolve: Although you can get hurt doing CrossFit, you DON’T have to.
We get hurt because we’re performing complex movements under load while fatigued, and our bodies can’t handle the stress. We rush to finish WODs and sacrifice form. We push through previous injuries when we should be resting. And most damaging, we put our bodies in bad positions because we’re compensating for poor movement patterns. I cannot overstate the last part enough. Because we lack either mobility or stability (or both) in one or more joints, we force one part of our body into a position to make up for the lack of positioning of another body part that eventually leads to whole other set of problems. How many times have you seen someone perform overhead squats while on their toes, bent over with rounded shoulders, and the arms shooting up behind them in order to get the bar straight in the air?
Critics of CrossFit say we shouldn’t do these movements. That we have no business doing complex barbell movements during a metcon or Olympic lifts at all. That we should never squat below parallel. What absolute and complete nonsense. It is this mindset that has led to a decrease in our movement ability and left us less fit. We move poorly because a lot of us sit or drive all day. We also move poorly because the fitness industry has dumbed down exercise to cater to the lowest common denominator. We’ve grown up exercising on machines designed to mimic real movement but in reality does no such thing. We were pushed through a “functional exercise” movement that had us standing on BOSU balls while doing bicep curls as it discouraged lifting heavy weights. And we’ve been told to not squat below parallel in group exercise classes for fear of “hurting our knees.” It’s the equivalent of telling someone not to cook over an open flame because they might get burned. The fitness industry for years has designed it this way to decrease the chance of injury; and excuse my cynicism, decrease the chance for litigation.
But in the end, where has it gotten us? Our body is the most magnificent creation on the planet – highly adaptable, highly resourceful. It’s ridiculous to not do what our bodies were designed to do. We should all be able to squat, lunge, lift, carry, and throw without pain and through our full range of motion.
This blog is a call to arms. No, I’m not talking about your biceps you knucklehead. This is a call for action. We all need to start moving better today. It is time to break the chains of unstable joints and the shackles of tight muscles. Today, our goal should not be to RX at all cost. Today, our goal should be to move better. Our number one priority should be to move like our bodies were designed to and not choose the path of lazy. It is time we unglue sticky muscles and reestablish stability to our joints. It’s time to fix our muscle imbalances. It’s time to squat below parallel and press overhead with ease. If you can do that, then I promise the elusive RX will come at less cost. You will be able to move faster and lift heavier but with less chance of injury. So are you ready to follow this path? Are you ready to commit to full mobility? Once more unto the breach, my friends, once more!…
Sorry, got carried away. What I’m saying is it’s important not just to move but to move well. How do we go about this? I leave that for my next blog. But I will tease it by saying it starts with the Functional Movement Screen.