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Crossfit, Injuries and the Sports Massage Benefits

Updated: Oct 17, 2017

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program in which the athletes perform functional movements that are constantly varied at high intensity. CrossFit athletes perform diverse and randomized physical challenges. It is a specialized program designed to optimize physical fitness in the following fitness domains; Cardiovascular and Respiratory Endurance, Strength, Power, Stamina, Balance, Coordination, Accuracy, Speed, Agility and Flexibility.

CrossFit is a relatively new fitness program which was founded in the year 2000 by Greg Glassman, a California fitness coach. The fitness program has gained popularity in the United States with nearly 9,000 gyms dedicated to this program. Here in the UK there are now close to 350 CrossFit gyms with the number steadily increasing.

CrossFit is now seeing several commonplace injuries due to the nature of the exercises that CrossFit athletes undergo. Some of the common injuries experienced by CrossFit athletes include;

Lower back pain

This usually occurs when there is an overload of the lumbar spine (part of spine at the low back) when performing squats, deadlifts and some hyperextension moves. When the athlete goes into hyperextension of the lumbar spine region (extending the low back outside of usual range), it can put huge pressure on the spine which can lead to severe back pain. In severe cases this can lead to ligament damage, disc bulges or prolapses.

Anterior Shoulder Impingement

Inability of a CrossFit athlete to maintain his shoulder joint in the correct position can lead to impingement of the long head of biceps brachii (the muscle at the front of the top of the arm, meeting the shoulder) or one or more of the rotator cuff tendons (muscles at the back of the shoulder that act as secondary ligaments) within the sub acromial joint (joint where the shoulder blade meets the bone at the top of the arm). This usually occurs when the CrossFit athlete tries to lift weights overhead or laterally, or do pull ups. This impingement syndrome is not always due to poor technique, but due to the high number of repetitions of movements that can occur in CrossFit workouts causing inflammation of these tissues.

Anterior Knee pain

Pain around the front of the knee or on the knee cap could be as a result of patella - femoral joint dysfunction. This is usually caused by an overload of the knee joint due to muscle imbalance around the thigh, hips and glutes (bum muscles); typical exercises to trigger knee pain are heavy squats and lunges, wall balls and box jumps.

Tennis or golfers elbow

This is a common injury experienced by CrossFit athletes. Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis, golfers elbow is also known as medial epicondylitis. The injury results from repetitive strain on the medial or lateral epicondyle (bony part on the inside or outside of the elbow) and can be exacerbated by a lot of rig work (pull ups, muscle ups, chest to bar, toes to bar), ring dips and heavy loaded front rack position. It can also be strained in the overhead position such as heavy over-head squat, or miss-catching the bar on a snatch.

Calf Strain With all the running, box jumps, double and triple unders, it’s no wonder CrossFit athletes suffer with repetitive calf strains. Appropriate foot wear is vital, but sometimes the volume of work is so vast, the calves just take a beating. Left untreated, CrossFit athletes can find themselves modifying WODs for long periods of time due to consistent re-injury.

With injuries being a key concern for CrossFit athletes, let’s look at how appropriate sports therapy and sports massage techniques can be of help.

What techniques are used?

Compression, frictions, broad strokes, trigger pointing or neuromuscular technique, an array of stretching methods increasing range of motion, vibrations, shaking, mobilisations, pin and stretch technique, along with the more classic massage techniques such as effleurage and petrissage are all used during sports therapy and sports massage sessions.

Both our sports therapists at Body Solve are qualified in kinesio taping which is a fantastic tool to help position a joint/tissues in order to promote healing and to de-load a joint.

Your sports therapist can also advise you on:

· Lifting techniques

· Stretching techniques

· Correcting poor posture

· Proper breathing techniques

· Stress reduction techniques

· Rehabilitation techniques to reduce muscle imbalances

Sport massage therapy is used for a number of purposes which include flexibility, prevention of injuries, treatment of injuries and recovery. The precise effects of sport massage therapy include;

1. It reduces excessive tissue adhesion and scar formation following a trauma

2. It reduces fascial thickening following injuries

3. It reduces muscle spasm secondary to pain

4. It reduces pain by reducing excessive tissue tension

5. It helps in reducing excessive neural excitability

6. It increases blood circulation and nutrients to used/damaged tissue and delivers more oxygen to the injured/tight tissues which helps to aid in recovery.

7. It deactivates symptomatic trigger points

8. Massage therapy can help a Crossfit athlete by reducing stress and anxiety pre and post CrossFit competition.

As a CrossFit athlete Sports Therapy and Massage Therapy should be a part of your key tools to help you recover from injuries and help you to stay injury free. This will provide you with more quality training time and less workout modification to avoid niggles that you’re suffering with. There is no bigger annoyance for a CrossFit athlete (or any athlete) to be out of training due to injury.

Thanks for reading

Body Solve

Pain Free Living

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