Let me guess, you started crossfit a few months ago and are in love. You plan your days around your workouts, you are still trying to figure out if you should eat before your workout and how much protein you should be consuming immediately after.
It’s ok, we have all been there!
Along with all of this excitement there does come a few not so glamorous things that accompany that new “I’m a bad a$$ smirk” that you are sporting.
One place I don’t want you to be next though is on the sidelines and unable to workout.
By this time, about 6 weeks in, you are starting to get your “moves” down. You are figuring out how to squat, clean and jerk. You may have even attempted one of those wild looking “kipping pull ups.”
So awesome right?
Before you start to think that you are next Crossfit Superstar lets take a minute and back off before you hurt yourself. Matter of fact, this 6 week time point is when I see 90% of new cross enthusiasts get hurt.
Because they feel like they are “getting it” and eagerly try to move up in weight, speed and intensity to match the Wodify Rx weights for the WOD.
As a doctor and a crossfit athlete myself, please heed this one piece of advice:
Stop! Stop loading more and more weights to the bar and trying to squeeze in a 5th workout this week, because your new friends at your box invited you to join in.
The Three Most Common Crossfit Injuries
The following three injuries could have been stopped by just slowing down and making sure your form is spot on. If you have a movement that you don’t feel that you have reached that 100% perfection point, then my suggestion is that you get with your coach immediately and have them check your form.
1. Low Back Pain
The most common injury I see walk into my clinic is low back pain from improper squat execution. I would venture to say that most, if not all people who are trying Crossfit for the first time are not high level athletes and are not used to activating their core and hip complex in the way that is demanded daily by Crossfit. Most individuals have a weak core and when they go to do multi joint movements (squat, clean and jerk), their core remains weak and ultimately is the weakest chain and they hurt themselves.
The Fix: Increase your flexibility in your hips and strengthen your core. My suggestion to all newbie crosffiters to take the first 6 weeks and fully learn the movements. You should be more concerned with form and increasing your range of motion, then you are with loading up the bar and trying to hit the Rx weight. Most common form of injury from the squat is when a person has a inactive or hypertonic muscle and forces other muscle/ligaments to compensate their imbalances.
If you are one of the unfortunate who have recently hurt yourself, my suggestion is to ice the area, perform some basic static stretches and get to a chiropractor. You need to be checked and have your spine aligned.
2. Knee pain
The second most common injury I see from Crossfit athletes is knee pain. This too is usually a fault with improper lifting (usually from doing front squats, overhead squats) or from an increased amount of jumping that the individual is not accustomed. I encounter this when I see people who do not “sit back” far enough on their squats or do not ‘load/unload’ their weight across their shoulder properly when doing front squats or overhead press.
The Fix: It is best for those with occasional knee pain is have their “movement form checked.” In addition, I encourage you to foam roll and stretch the quadriceps prior to exercise. This stretching should be static as well as dynamic. Quad stretches, self massage with a lacrosse ball to the vastus medialis obilique and some walking lunges can do wonders to warm up the knees. Also, before loading the bar with any weights, perform some “air squats” or PVC pass throughs to get the motion down and to activate your lifting sequencing.
If after your workout your knees are stiff and sore, then ice the area, stretch the quads, use a foam roller to “roll out” and ice once again. If you feel like your knees are “locked” or have instability, then you best see a doctor for evaluation. Do NOT continue to train on a “bum” knee. Take a few days off, listen to your body, rest, roll and recover!
3. Shoulder Pain
The third problem area that can plague new enthusiasts is shoulder impingement, also known as rotator cuff injuries. When the pectoral muscles strain to keep the shoulder in the correct position, the resulting stress on the anterior shoulder complex and rotator cuff muscles can result in painful inflammation and even a tear of the tendon itself.
The Fix: Keeping your rotator cuff stretched and warmed up is a great way to prevent injury. I am a growing advocate of PVC pass through’s to warm up the shoulder and easy band work to increase active range of motion. The rotator cuff has a larger range of motion than any other joint in the body, that’s also why it’s the most delicate and most easily injured. Shoulder injuries can range from being a minor annoyance throughout the day, or debilitating and take months to heal.
The key to good shoulder health is to maintain proper flexibility and stability. Flexibility comes primarily from rehab exercises such as shoulder stretches and practicing the Olympic lifts. If you haven’t already, it might be a good idea to learn the Olympic movements with just the PVC bar. These movements will teach the body proper form and activate more muscle tissues than any other exercises. They also have the added benefit of improving joint flexibility.
Crossfit provides an incredible workout to almost every person who participates. It is a combination of multi joint movements, camaraderie with friends and working out in a competitive group setting. I can see why millions of people are addicted to Crossfit.
I hope these tips help you the next time you head to your box and help you prevent unnecessary injuries.