How Prevent Injuries & Address Minor Ones

This won’t cover every single aspect of injuries, as there are different degrees and limitations associated with them. We’ll preface this with the fact that I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice. This isn’t an exhaustive list either. After dealing with chronic back and shoulder injuries, as well as coaching thousands of athletes over the past decade, I’ve seen and learned a lot.

If you think your injury needs medical attention, take action. I personally avoid GP, as they aren’t equipped to handle injuries. They will typically all prescribe the same things: Pills, rest, and ice. Rest 42-90 days and don’t work out. For serious injuries, yes, minor strains, awful advice. My opinion here,not medical advice. I’ve never understood encouraging someone to be sedentary for months for minor strains that need a few week’s rest.

5 Steps To Take To Prevent Injuries:

  1. Proper Warm-Up: We “warm-up” to pump blood through our extremities to prepare to move. We do a general warm-up to do this, we then move to some specific warm-up movements to prep for the strength and workout of the day.

**Do some people need more than others? YES. Especially anyone that has had previous strains as well as our more “seasoned” athletes. This might look like coming to class 10-15 minutes early to do some extra prep.

2. Addressing Muscular Imbalances: What does this mean? In practice, a good example would be a deadlift, as this movement is one I’ve witnessed the most injuries with and experienced myself. I had a 500+lb deadlift, could do 1×20 @ 315, 3×20 @225 ect, but I suffered from repeated back strains. More than I could count.

Why? While I never had anyone say xyz is why, knowing what I know, and often telling others “If I had to do it all over again, I’d address my weaknesses in my lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and core. I became strong over the years, but I didn’t take the time outside of workouts to bring my lagging muscle groups up to speed.

This is done by strengthening using accessory movements to address weak links such as:

**Hamstrings: Banded curls, GHD, Romanian Deadlifts, Single-Leg Movements To Balance Leg Strength ect

How does one know if they have an imbalance?

There are a few things you can examine on your own and there are some things a professional can do with positional muscle testing. On your own, you can look at gaping strength discrepancies on lifts like a squat and a deadlift. It’s not uncommon for athletes to have a big back squat and a weak deadlift in comparison. A strong anterior and a weak posterior could set you up for injury down the road. A weak core could be to blame, as could weak glutes or hamstrings. Think of it this way: If you’re doing a workout that has 50 deadlifts at 225/155 and your hamstrings are weak, they’re eventually going to say “Ok, that’s all we can take”, they don’t stop working altogether, but other non-primary movers have to pick up the slack like your glutes and lower back.

**Another significant issue can be muscle groups that aren’t firing or contracting due to overuse, previous injury, dehydration, weakness, excessive foam rolling/massage, and even stretching. I’ve seen muscles test out at positions as stiff as a board prior to stretching and massage, only to not hold up after during a seminar. Quite fascinating and eye-opening. One thing to strongly consider prior to exercise to to do dynamic warm-ups vs static stretching and excessive rolling out. Dynamic stretching and very quick rollouts may be ok. Holding stretches for 2-3 minutes more than likely isn’t the greatest move pre-workout. Stick to the long stretching post-workout.

Muscles that aren’t contracting, can’t do their job, which leads to compensation, which leads to injury. To get muscles that aren’t contracting properly you can do a few things: See an MAT Specialist if it’s chronic and/or do some positional isometrics to help “turn them on”. Sounds fishy? Well, you do have a central nervous system that tells your muscle to contract and relax. If something’s off, you can’t tell your hamstrings to contract and relax when doing a deadlift. It just happens or it doesn’t.

3. Addressing ROM (Mobility Restrictions): Lack of mobility could be the result of a handful of things. Anatomy, previous injury not allowing ROM, generally tight muscle groups, postural issues from years of sitting at a desk, or maybe even a guy that has bench pressed 3x/week the past 20 years without doing the opposing muscle group (rows for the back) where his pecs and delts are overdeveloped. Yes, this is an imbalance issue as well.

**Stretching works. I’ve seen it work. Just do it after a workout and be consistent.

**Foam rolling or mobilizations with bands or other tools work. I’ve seen it and experienced it work.

**See a professional Chiro/MAT S/Physical Therapist or whoever you trust and get results from.

**Avoid movements that violate your current ROM. Don’t force movements your anatomy won’t allow for. If you can’t put your arms overhead without hyperextending your back, overhead movements like kipping, KBS, ohs, presses, and snatching will more than likely leave you with a shoulder or back injury.

What you think caused your injury, more often than not, wasn’t the culprit. If you hurt yourself deadlifting and thought to yourself, “Hurt my back again for the 15x, gotta get my back stronger.” While that will help some, most likely compensate longer, it’s 9/10, not the fix and the back, not the issue. The back just took the HIT.

4. Lift Withing Your Current Capabilities: What does this look like? You’re in CrossFit class and the guys are all doing Rx cleans at 185lb. You have 155lb on the bar as you look around. You decide you’re going to do 185 too! Can you do a few with good form? Ok, that’s cool, but there are 30 in the workout and other movements that are going to make it more difficult. Basically, stay in your lane. Sounds harsh, but it’s your body, and you only get one. Treat it with respect, humbly progress, and you’ll get there eventually. I’ve seen too many men (rarely if every women) try to lift weights they have no business lifting and never return again after injuries. This isn’t unique to CrossFit. I saw it in bodybuilding, powerlifting, Oly, and it even happens with gymnastics-style movements.

5. Take Rest Days, Careful With Volume & Actually Rest: Generally speaking, take 2 a week. Workout the other 5. Your body needs to repair itself and it can’t do so if you’re always trashing it. If you’re doing 2 wods a day, make sure you’re ready to take on the volume. If you’re curious as to if you’re ready, ASK, don’t just start doing Olympic lifting programs and multiple workouts because you think more is better.

Recovery Protocols: Sleep, supplementation, nutrition, massage, stretch, rolling out, cold therapy, saunas, de-stressing, and drinking enough water are great places to start.

You need a regimen. Most people don’t know where to start, haven’t considered it, or it’s not fully developed. All of these are important, some more than others, and you do have to implement these somehow. Reach out if you need help.

Lastly, make sure you have someone you trust to treat minor strains or nagging injuries before they become a real problem that keeps you on the sideline for a significant length of time. Working through pain is a poor idea and it rarely goes well. If you can’t do a movement due to pain, avoid it, and get worked on so you can fully participate and not get hurt elsewhere.

I had 3 personal training clients at a tennis club back in 2011 that had MCL, ACL, & Achilles blown out playing tennis. 2 of them blew out the other knee and the other blew out their other Achilles, all released from the doctor. Muscular imbalances, lack of strength bilaterally, and compensation were more than likely the reason this happened again.

Curious as to if you have a muscular imbalance? I can help, I’m trained to assess. I can do some corrective movements and prescribe corrective exercise. If it’s something I know I don’t have any business messing with, I refer out to professionals I use and trust.

Send me a DM on FB at CrossFit HSE or email me at hsecrossfit@gmail.com

Do you need someone you can trust to help get over an injury?

Indy Muscle & Joint: https://indymuscle.com/

Muscle Activation Techniques: http://www.indymat.com/ Sarah Gheen 317-385-3292

-Coach Bryan

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