Ah the “I” word. It strikes fear into the hearts of many. It prevents accomplishments, both minor and great, and can slow the progress of any man, woman, or child. It can take the greatest of athletes and stop them in their tracks. We, of course, are talking about INJURIES.
We get asked about injuries a lot as trainers/coaches. They cause a lot of trepidation in people, especially if they are new to training, which is completely understandable! Whether you’ve had a previous injury or not, the worrying about it can stick in the back of your mind and make it difficult to focus on your workout for the day. In order to help you better understand injuries, how they happen, and what to expect when they do happen, we put together a few quick facts about them:
One of the misconceptions about training as intensely as we do is that we’re injured all the time. This is flat out wrong. When you are working with an experienced trainer/coach, they have a good understanding of how much work you are able to safely do. Which is why even in classes we work with everyone individually to ensure you have the correct amount of weight or are scaling a movement correctly. It of course is important that you keep an open dialogue with your trainer and inform them if something doesn’t feel right. That way they can change the troublesome movement to a less strenuous, or altogether different, exercise.
When a lot of people think of injuries, they think of throwing their back out or some nasty injury they saw on Social Media. Even a mention of the “I” word and people bring up the worst possible thing that could happen, even if it was something not being done in the gym!
The truth is, most injuries are rather minor. They are typically small strains that have a minimal impact on your life and heal rather fast. As long as you are appropriately handling any strain/sprain you get, they are unlikely to grow into something more severe.
Injuries happen all the time throughout normal life. People have hurt their back, knee, or shoulder doing non-intense chores around the house. A few prominent ones come to mind such as picking up a sock, rolling out of bed, or reaching for a seatbelt. In these cases were these people lifting too much? Doing something ridiculous and dangerous? Of course not. Their day to day lives had created poor movement patterns and made certain joints less mobile than others. This creates imbalances which you don’t realize until something simple becomes a herculean task.
Any time we get a new client we at some point ask them if they sit a lot at work. We aren’t just establishing that they have a sedentary lifestyle, we’re asking so we know if they have poor mobility. If their answer is “yes”, we know they are most likely going to struggle with squat depth and thoracic mobility (between the shoulder blades). Initially, we won’t be as concerned with how much these people are lifting as we are in restoring mobility.
Think of a sport you like to watch. Chances are there are several common injuries in that sport. Pitchers in baseball have shoulder and elbow problems, football players have injuries from head to toe, basketball players tend to have knee and ankle problems, and runners actually end up being injured more often than most people realize. This isn’t because their sport is particularly dangerous (excluding football), it is because they are using the same muscles to perform the same movements over and over again. It’s easy to make fun of a baseball player for missing games because of a cut on a finger, but if they don’t give that finger a chance to heal it can turn into something much worse.
This is why at No Limit Fitness Studio/NLFS CrossFit, we are constantly changing workout plans so we don’t hit the same movements too many times in a week. True, we might put in extra leg work or upper body work in a given week, but we also plan for that and give your body time to recover from it.
There are a few simple ways to help keep the injury bug from paying you a visit. The first is to warm up. You should have a little bit of a sweat going and an elevated heart rate if you’ve warmed up correctly. The second is to focus on lifting technique. Letting your form go to hell because you’re tired or the weight is light is a great way to head toward an “I” word. Third, cool down and work on mobility. When we tell you to foam roll certain muscle groups after a workout, YOU SHOULD. This helps loosen up muscles you just used so there will be less tension throughout the day. If you can intermittently stretch throughout the day your muscles will thank you the next day as well. Lastly, if something doesn’t feel right or hurts, tell your trainer immediately. We’re well versed in working around movements that aren’t working for you.