CrossFit has become hugely popular in Ireland over the last number of years. It is a form of training that incorporates resistance training and cardiovascular training and uses compound exercises (exercises that involve more than one joint) to develop greater functional movement.
CrossFit is not just for advanced clients. Participants range from high level athletes to absolute beginners and each workout can be customised to each individual. While high level athletes tend to suffer more overuse injuries, beginners commonly injure their shoulders, back, knees and ankles.
These injuries may occur because a load is added to a movement that is suboptimal or inefficient and is then performed continuously at high intensity and often in a fatigued state. This is why good instruction and supervision in a CrossFit class is essential. However injuries may still occur and early diagnosis and treatment is essential to avoid a prolonged lay off period and possibly further injury.
When helping injured CrossFit athletes, chartered physiotherapists should aim to look at how the client is performing certain exercises to determine if this can be modified or tweaked in a way which will reduces strain, allows for healing but allowing the client to continue exercising if possible. As mentioned, exercises are often multi-joint exercises which involve a number of muscles across several joints and can be more difficult to perform correctly which may lead to injury. A chartered physiotherapist trained in functional movement analysis, in consultation with the coach if needed, will identify and correct these errors. Other techniques such as dry needling, myofascial release and joint manipulation may be incorporated into treatment to assist in easing pain, promoting healing and restoring mobility to affected areas.
When recovering from injury it is essential to ensure the technique for performing exercises technique is optimal before progressing to more advanced exercises which may be performed with added weight resistance, repetition or frequency for example.
For example, during a squatting movement under load, a rounded back should be avoided with a more neutral spine preferred. A rounding back may be due to poor technique, lack of back mobility, poor hip and spinal muscle control as well as more remote factors such as reduced ankle movement.
When squatting, the feet should roughly be shoulder width apart. During the lowering phase of the squat, the knee caps should not pass forward of the feet until the movement drops below 90 degrees of bend and the knee. This is ideal and allows weight to be distributed over the centre of the arch of the feet. A broom is a useful device when squatting to ensure that the back remains straight and the head and pelvis also remain in neutral positions. A box or ball can also be used to determine the optimal depth that should be used before the movement becomes poorly controlled and a risk of injury.
For upper body exercises such as pull ups or push ups, again it is important to move optimally weight-free before you load up the joint. Pull ups can be practiced eccentrically (just the lowering phase from a step) or with power bands as assistance until the movement is able to be performed correctly without assistance. For push ups, the elbows should be close to the sides of the body, at approximately 45 degrees to the body.
When treating members of the CrossFit community at Mount Merrion Chartered Physiotherapy, we recognise that we need to understand our CrossFit clients before we can treat them effectively. CrossFit is not just a gym, it is a community. It is a place where people come to train but also to socialise and there is a strong bond between members. For this reason we make every effort to keep you training and taking part as long as this does not slow your recovery or put you at risk of further injury.
We know you want to move, and progress in your training and we will do our best to make sure you get back on track and recover from your injuries as quickly as possible.