Life Fit goes Cross Fit Physio-style

By Raz Leonard, Chartered Physiotherapist.

I recently had the pleasure of joining in the lunch time WOD (Workout of the day) at CrossFit 1298, hosted and coached by the talented and humble Graham Gordon (he asked me to say that!). It’s a great, super friendly box and gave me the opportunity to reflect on my CrossFit history and why I enjoy working with CrossFit athletes.

What’s your background in CrossFit?

I first joined a CrossFit box in 2010 which means I’ve been doing it for about 8 years. I have to admit, I feel a bit embarrassed about this. Firstly, it makes me feel old and secondly at 7 years in, I should probably be a better athlete by now! In terms of physiotherapy, I’ve been treating Crossfitters at LifeFit Wellness in Falkirk and at CrossFit Glasgow where I’ve been working for the last year or so.

Why do you like it?

As any Crossfitter will tell you, it’s quite addictive. You get sweaty, you work hard, you challenge yourself to do something you thought you couldn’t do. You work alongside other people which encourages you to try harder. You feel the support of everyone cheering you on. After the workout is over, you feel amazing. Partly because it’s over, but also because of the team spirit and feel good hormones buzzing around your system. There is always something to work on, which keeps you trying to get better. Whether it’s strength, speed, powerlifting, gymnastic movements, there is always something (or several things) to practice. I’m working towards a strict ring muscle up which is a gymnastic pull up followed by a ring dip to get over the rings. If I make it even more public, maybe it will happen!

Where do you train?

Apart from my guest appearance at Falkirk’s CrossFit 1298, I’m lucky enough to be a member of the most established CrossFit in Scotland, CrossFit Glasgow. My husband Khi is a trainer there and likes to challenge people in mobility workouts. Our first box was CrossFit Seven Mile in Grand Cayman which was amazing, however you had to take care that the bars did not slip out your hands due to the constant drip of sweat.

What are the most common CrossFit injuries?

You do get some weird and wonderful injuries from the sport. I’d say shoulder problems and back pain are up there. Shoulders are an issue as they don’t get better on their own and can be aggravated by so many CrossFit movements such as overhead bar work, handstand pushups and pullups. There are also a good number of tendon pathologies, such as Achilles tendon issues.

What are the major challenges with rehabilitation in Crossfitters?

What makes the sport so much fun can also increase the chance of injuries. CrossFit is constantly varied, functional and high intensity exercise. Certain structures in the body, such as tendons, do not like rapid changes to load. That’s why doing 500 double unders in a couple of days could lead to issues. Another issue is too much enthusiasm! All too often, a heavier weight than can be managed with good form might be chosen when going for a new PR (personal record), leading to back pain for example. Making sure the rehabilitating CrossFit athlete knows what they can do or how to adapt the WODs is also important but challenging given the huge variety of moves used in the programme.

Do you have any injury prevention tips for CrossFitters?

Firstly, listen to your coach and take the time learn good technique. If they tell you that you are not moving well, then it might be time to reduce the weight on that work out then work on your form so you can push more next time. Arrive early and take some time to do accessory work on your areas of weakness. If you experience pain during a workout, don’t ignore it- stop and go see a qualified physiotherapist. The quicker you deal with it, the quicker you can get back to doing what you love!

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