Injury doesn't have to result in becoming less fit.
Getting to the gym on a regular basis is a real struggle for many. We've already addressed the "too busy" excuse (click here if you missed it), now we'll address anther reason many use to "take time off." Occasionally we'll run into someone around town who we haven't seen in months. They'll tell us they injured their _____________________ (you fill in the blank), then got out of the habit of coming.
Whether you hurt your knee snowboarding, slipped on the ice and sprained your wrist, or developed a sore elbow after a WOD; it is possible (and important) to get back in the gym and do what you can as long as you do the following:
1. REST. Obviously immediately after many injuries, it's important and necessary to take at least a few days off during the acute phase of an injury.
2. See a doctor, physical therapist or other qualified health care professional to determine the extent of and proper diagnosis of your injury. Let them know the type of exercise you participate in (hint: saying "CrossFit" is usually too general. Instead, tell them you lift weights, do bodyweight and gymnastics exercises, and cardiovascular conditioning. This way they can be very specific in what movements you should avoid).
3. Communicate with your trainer(s) often to remind them of your limitations and update them with your progress. Don't feel bad about asking for ideas, modifications, scales to accommodate your injury, that is part of their job!
4. Focus on your recovery and remember why you come to the gym-- to stay fit and healthy. Don't get caught up in scores and performing workouts "Rx." This could result in trying out risky movements and weights too soon.
Coach Toby underwent ACL reconstruction last spring on his knee. Many people might use this as an excuse to quit coming to the gym, waiting for clearance for all activities before returning. Kudos for Toby for not letting his injury get the best of him, listening to his doctor and therapist, and working on core and upper body strength while his knee healed. He also managed to win the Nutrition Challenge while rehabilitating his knee proving that you CAN make significant changes for the better even when your not at 100%. Let's see what he had to say....
After my knee injury in May, I continued coaching CrossFit classes as well as participating in classes as an athlete. I informed my trainers (usually Mike, Gretchen, and Nicole) about my knee injury and they helped me determine the best scaling options and/or movement substitutions. I also used my own knowledge of CrossFit training to determine what movements I would be able to do in the same varied fashion at the same level of intensity.
After I had surgery at the end of June, I took about 10 days off, meaning I didn't even come to the gym. This was absolutely required for my rest and recovery. After the 10 days, I returned to coaching but still limited my participation in WODs to once or twice a week with applicable substitutions and scaling. Getting back to the community of CrossFit 7220 was key to my physical recovery and mental well-being.
Under the guidance of my PT (hint: it's Jon Claude), I continued to rehab my knee (three times a week!), but also shifted my focus to other movements and areas of my body for CrossFit workouts.
As the days and weeks passed, I was able to increase the intensity and add more variety of movements, including adding in more lower body excercises. The experience of my fellow coaches, as well as Jon's continued help and guidance, has been key to my success thus far.
Whatever potential development I may have missed in my legs as the result of having to give up full range of workouts is being replaced by skills that I wouldn't have developed otherwise.
Even though the first few weeks of the injury were brutal for my mental health (it really sucked and I had some very discouraging moments), this injury has had a valuable impact on my overall development.
Before my knee is back to 100 percent, I expect that I will make gains in upper body strength, flexibility, and coordination. I believe I am acquiring skills and strengths that I wouldn't have otherwise developed.
Another hard working athlete in our gym, Shinze Kato, has been dealing with an upper body injury. You may have seen him doing one-armed dumbbell cleans, snatches, front squats to stay strong while his injury heals. Here's what Shinze has to say about his experience.
1. I love working out. I feel better mentally after working out. CrossFit workouts are also fun and challenging. That makes my day exciting. So, working out is a physical and mental detox to me.
2. Being even slightly fit is better than nothing. I haven't been able to do certain movements because of my injury. So, I lost some strength and fitness. But, that doesn't mean I have no options left. I just needed to modify my workouts with movements that do not hinder my recovery process. The trainers at 7220 helped me modify my workouts so that I didn't have to stop coming to the gym. I hope this little effort keeps me in shape for the time when I recover from the injury.
3. Being injured has been a learning experience. My doctors who have helped with my recovery process helped me learn a little bit about human body. The injury has made me think more about controlling my own body during exercise. I started asking myself "Am I in control? Is my body stable?" when I do those movement during the workouts.