How I’ve stayed healthy & pain free 8 years into CrossFit.
I just passed my 8 year mark of doing CrossFit.
I have stayed healthy through the majority of that time.
Now I have at different times experienced “discomfort” in the shoulder, knee or back but every time I’ve been able to understand and fix what was going on myself.
First, let’s plug in some numbers for a second.
I train 5x a week with 2 full rest days built in.
This wasn’t always the case (I trained a lot more but for averaging sake let’s just say 5 days a week).
1 workout a day x5 = 20 workouts a month
20 workouts a month x12 = 240 workouts a year
240 workouts a year x8= 2,000 workouts (approximately performed)
The goal of the program is to get you fit, not injured. People don’t get injured from running. Or a deadlift.
That could be the thing where it happens.
But trust me, it’s a stacking of events, to include lifestyle choices/demands amongst many other factors.
Let’s dive in…..
How have I remained to stay out of the dreaded injury pool and remain healthy?
- Quality of movement
We are a Coaching based facility at Railroad CrossFit.
Outside of Coaching being our passion, we aim to continually teach quality of movement. Every day, refine, improve.
We are seeking movement virtuosity (also known as doing the common uncommonly well.)
Simply put, the better you move, getting in the right positions, the safer you are.
The more efficient your workout, thus allowing you to yield not only a safe workout but achieve better results. (We all want both of those)
If you are constantly sacrificing positions to move faster, beat someone or prove you can do something you are setting yourself to eventually reap what you sow.
- Training Volume
More does not = better
Better = better.
Personally, in my early time with CrossFit, I fell in love with the sport side.
I spent many hours training with the goal being to compete at the CrossFit Regionals (think the playoffs before the Superbowl with some of the best of the best).
You had to be in a pretty elite group to make the cut.
I would do multiple training pieces in a day.
There was a time in mine and Nolan’s life we would train from 8pm-11pm.
At that time we weren’t thinking about our bodies, we just wanted to make it.
A lot of guys who trained with us at that time suffered in the long run due to the combination of training volume, under recovering and not always moving with quality.
In the class setting some folks get wrapped up in the mentality that if i train more I will:
“Lose the weight faster”
“Get fitter faster”
These are two of the primary examples.
While I’m not against more training at all I do believe it needs to be smart, intentional and thought out.
Training is an important part of losing weight and body fat but 99% of people would benefit by focusing on the battle and their relationship with nutrition. Aka own your eating.
I know that’s an answer nobody wants to hear. The truth usually is.
I know it’s easier to go do clean and jerks and toes to bar versus possessing the discipline for 3-6 months day in day out with your food.
Consistently eating vegetables, controlling the amount of fats and carbs you intake, monitoring proper protein etc.
But if it were easy we’d all be where we wanted to and wouldn’t appreciate the process.
Hence it takes hard work.
Back to training volume.
“Getting fit faster”
Yes & no.
Added volume has to be smart, intentional and deliberate.
Not “I feel like doing ________.”
If you have specific goals talk to one of your Coaches, we offer an accessory work program to help you work towards your specific goals. Plus we know the weeks programming and factor in what’s appropriate when and where, and how much.
- Know and understand the differences within your body
Your brain is smart, if it detects something going on it will send a signal to alert you.
Often times we can misinterpret this signal.
If I’ve learned anything, i’ve learned the body is extremely resilient and durable.
You will experience all of the above, it is inevitable.
A good place to begin is to understand your life outside the gym.
Let me give you a simple example:
This past Saturday, we had an athlete come back from an 800m run in a workout and said their back was bugging them upon return.
We stopped his workout, had him change gears to some easy range of motion work, quality of movement and cardio on the bike to promote blood flow.
Afterwards after talking with him, I asked him about it.
His stress levels are at an all time high (cortisol).
He’s in a police academy where they do vigorous exercise and then within 10 minutes are sitting for the remainder of an 8+ hour day.
As his Coach I knew this wasn’t anything serious, I’m guessing his hip flexors are getting tight from the 8+ hours sitting 5 days a week. His glutes might even be getting “muted.”
So during a longer run which recruits a lot of the hip flexors which are potentially very tight, the back gets pulled on and that’s where the stress is felt.
I’ve literally had someone come back from a run and tell me “I tore my hamstring!”
For that to end up just being, really “tight.”
The body will experience many things in a training journey, pay attention to the signs, back off when you need to. This isn’t a sprint but a marathon. Play the long game.
What we’ve implemented to help keep people safe and healthy
- Well designed programming
- Focused/intentional warm ups
- 5 minutes of stretching at the conclusion of every class
- 2-5 minutes of mobility work at the end of every class (sometimes during)
- Always break movements down into progressions (learn and aim to master excellent mechanics → then do them consistently (days, weeks, months) → then and only then add load/up intensity.)
- We sent our entire staff to Active Life workshop to learn how to assess the body, help get people out of pain and correct limited ranges of motion. (if you can’t get in the right position but are doing a movement it’s only a matter of time before the body breaks down.)
- We offer 3 corrective tier programs to help folks who are limited or are in pain.
- We run every new person coming into the gym through a full movement screening.
- Constant communication between our Coaching staff.
Here’s a few things I’ve personally added and seen massive benefit in keeping me healthy
- 7-8 hours sleep each night
- Last few years moved myself to 90/10 rule with nutrition. 1-3 veggies at each meal, 1-2 fruits a day, healthy starches, protein at each meal 90% of the time. 10% is my wiggle room or balance. Be human, not a robot. I enjoy tostitos. What do you enjoy?
- Stretch anywhere from 5-20 minutes each day outside the gym.
- Write down my workouts/track my results. Sometimes how I felt.
- Discipline myself to train 5 days a week, 3 days in a row, 1 off, 2 days in a row, 1 off. Full rest days. Sometimes I’ll be “active”, I have 2 dogs, like to hike, bike. But not intended to be a “workout.”
- I am always striving to be the best mover I can be. Personally I’m not happy with a lift or movement if it doesn’t look/feel right. I believe this has been HUGE across my 8 years. When someone says to me “you make that look so easy,” it hasn’t come easy, but that is the goal, to move with efficiency, limit wasted energy, be safe and maximize results.
- I do corrective work.
I would guess many folks would be surprised to know that their Coaches are “limited” in some areas and need corrective work.
For myself it’s my shoulders.
Chest to bar pullups, Snatches, Muscle Ups, Handstand Pushups are some of my best movements but also the movements that will cause my shoulders to not feel good if I don’t do my corrective work on my shoulders.
I truly believe everyone has a “thing.”
Mine are my shoulders, yours might be your back, someone else’s their knees and it could be
as simply as doing corrective work 3x a week to help you keep feeling good.
Group class is designed to be a broad, inclusive and well rounded program to develop and increase your health and fitness.
Eight years in and I feel very fit, very healthy and I like the way I look.
At our core, I believe those are everyone’s 3 main goals.
So don’t lose sight of your core goals and revisit them often.
Some potential to do’s:
Write your workouts down. Tracking is very important. How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?
Own your eating, always aim to improve in the area of nutrition. If you need extra help, schedule a sit down with Coach Elena. Education and accountability are available and we all need it.
Make sleep a priority. 7-8 hours.
Seek help if you need to. Whether that’s advice, corrective work, nutrition, or even a one on one session with a Coach.
Aim to become the best mover. If you don’t know how, see the above to do.
Here’s to the happiest, healthiest you.