Injuries… Let’s talk about them.
In or out of CrossFit, injuries are bound to happen because let’s face it, we’re not super human but despite being privy to that fact, it’s been an incredibly difficult subject to touch on for two reasons: The first is that trying to “sell” people on CrossFit without an injury is a task in itself, let alone trying to “sell” people on CrossFit with an injury – it really doesn’t make much sense: “Wait, so you’re telling me CrossFit doesn’t equal injury, yet you have tendonitis in your hand as a result of CrossFit.” The second reason is that I personally have never really had an “injury” up until recently, and certainly not one that has lasted as long as mine did. I was feeling really helpless, and having a difficult time conveying my struggles in conversation, which is why I wanted to write this article.
So, on to the injury. As most of you know, I participated in the 2012 CrossFit Games Open workouts. Not just as a CrossFit lover following along with the workouts, but as someone who paid the $20, created an athlete profile on the official CrossFit Games website, and publically posted numbers along side incredible athletes like Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, Katie Hogan, Julie Foucher & the rest. Like so many athletes, I pushed myself to my absolute limit and executed movements with weights (or reps) I had never done before: 75 lb snatch at 10 reps, chest to bar pullups for the first time, recycling toes to bar, 150 wall balls! and 75 lb push press at 51 reps. I thought for sure if I was going to get hurt, it would be because of the snatch movement (it’s the one I have the least experience with) but it was the push press that did it. Prior to the Open, I was really only comfortable doing 45 lb push press, so it was a 30 pound jump for me, which took a toll on my right hand, wrist and forearm. As a result, I got tendonitis which lasted for what seemed like forever. The following are behaviors that I did to deal, that you should NOT do:
- Don’t Stop Eating Clean - One of the worst things you can do is start eating crap. I didn’t know how to emotionally cope with my injury, and so I ate, which in retrospect was completely dumb. I was limited in my movements in CrossFit due to the injury, which means less work being done, and consuming more food than I was when I was doing a ton of work, which equals donut belly, lethargic responses, and slower times within the limited movements. Also, in order for your body to heal quicker, it is so imperative that you continue eating clean. Don’t do what I did and go all beast mode on a box of pop tarts.
- Don’t Compare Yourself To Your CrossFit Comrades - This is a really difficult one. There are specific women I was about the same level with as far as strength and times go, and I always chased them in WODs. Then I got injured, and it seemed like they started PR’ing a ton of movements. I noticed my times and weights falling farther and farther behind theirs – it didn’t feel quite equal anymore. All I could think about is how fast I was sinking below the curve, and I tortured myself with limiting beliefs of how I would never catch up once I was healed. But comparing your injured self to non-injured athletes is a complete waste of time, because you have no control over the situation. In order to heal quicker, you must focus on the positive. Acknowledge that you’re injured, but imagine yourself healing and getting back to where you left off. Oh, and mobility helps too! Like, a lot.
- Don’t Focus On Time - Seriously, folks. Have you ever stood watching and waiting for a pot of water to boil? It’s agonizing. The same goes for your injury. Stop focusing on how long you’ve been injured or how long you anticipate the injury to last. This will suck the life out of you and make your recovery appear painstakingly longer. Instead, focus on what you can do to heal. The more effort you put into focusing your thoughts on other (positive) things, the quicker it will (seem) to heal!
- Don’t Stop Going To The Box – My hand was messed up, and my first thoughts were: “Great, now I can’t do bar work, pullups, pushups, double unders or burpees . . . so, what do I do?” For the first couple of weeks, I laid low at home feeling sorry for myself but then a friend told me (paraphrasing), “You can still squat. This is the perfect opportunity for you to build that strength, as it’s fundamental to your success in CrossFit.” Uh, duh. Why didn’t I think of that? Well, it’s because I was so busy focusing on what I couldn’t do, that I failed to see what I could do. So, I went to each class 30 minutes early and started working on my back squat and boy has it paid off!