In an age of the increasing popularity of yoga and other low-impact forms of exercise, we've begun to hear a lot about the alleged dangers of high intensity workouts such as what programs like CrossFit have to offer. However, CrossFit's negative reputation is largely based on a lack of understanding. The truth is that CrossFit carries with it only about the same risk as powerlifting and competitive weightlifting – which, contrary to what many believe, are, along with CrossFit, among the safest sports around. In fact, there are a number of ways in which CrossFit is, in fact, helpful in the process of rehab:
1. CrossFit is an excellent way to get – and keep – patients moving. While it is true that part of rehab involves identifying which muscles to rest – and to what extent – it is only through strengthening supportive tissue through exercise that a person will ever fully recover from an injury. And CrossFit is all about movement.
2. Crossfit exercises put the emphasis on an incredible range of motion. Therefore, using the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) or Functional Movement Screen (FMS) with CrossFit is a great ways to identify exactly where the problems lie – whether the mobility problem is with shoulder pain, thoracic extension, scapular stability, ankle mobility, or hip and core stability. There's just no way to overlook any muscle group when CrossFit is involved.
3. The high intensity nature of CrossFit exercises are not only great for the cardiovascular system, but they also help warm up the body to prevent further injury during all types of exercises, including those used in a rehabilitative setting.
4. Integrating CrossFit techniques into individualized sessions also provides a great opportunity to educate patients on how to improve their exercise techniques overall. Once patients are doing these addictive high energy movements (which involve so many muscles doing such a wide variety of things), it is only natural that they become more curious and receptive to understanding the biomechanics of exactly what's going on with their bodies and why. Thus, their chances of re-injury go down.
5. A strong and healthy body is less susceptible to re-injury, too – and CrossFit helps make just such a body possible. It's an unfortunate misconception that CrossFit fans, who do in fact love an intense and challenging workout, must, therefore, all be body-building maniacs with outrageous (or even dangerous) fitness goals. The truth, in fact, is that there are many who do CrossFit with the simple goal of being able to play with their children and keeping their bodies strong and healthy. A strong and healthy body is one that's better protected against sprains and other injuries.
Overall, it's really a shame that such a huge misunderstanding of CrossFit exists. It's a reputation that not even a sport as high-impact as recreational running has, despite the fact that running carries ten times the risk of injury compared to CrossFit! However, perhaps all of that will begin to change as more and more professionals begin to see the benefits that CrossFit can offer when it comes to physical rehabilitation.
For those feeling motivated to get in shape, there are many types of workouts available, and those workouts yield a wide variety of results – from the slimming effects of regular long distance running to the notorious “bulking up” that comes from grueling, slow hours of repetitively pumping iron at the gym. Genetics and diet certainly play a key role as well, but there's no denying that paying attention to which muscle groups you're working – as well as to the intensity of the workout – will also have an enormous effect on the end results. Not everyone can be a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, but wouldn't it be great if there were a workout that in some way mimicked the unbeatable (no pun intended) fitness results of MMA battling? Luckily, there is; this is where CrossFit training comes in.
In fact, CrossFit's “FGB” (“Fight Gone Bad”) gets its origins from the world of MMA. The story goes that renowned UFC fighter B.J. Penn was in search of exactly such a conditioning workout and thus approached CrossFit founder Greg Glassman. The result was this series of three five-minute exercise rounds that work the same muscles that an MMA battle does (that is to say, all of them!) – and at the same level of intensity. According to Louisville, KY CrossFit coach Ryan Brown, CrossFit is exactly the type of “punishing” workout that combat sport athletes love, incorporating both the upper and lower body for a thorough challenge yielding body-wide results.
Not Heavier – Just Over and Over Again (and Again and Again...)
In addition to honing in on muscle conditioning of the entire body, another important aspect that CrossFit training and mixed martial arts share is the emphasis on movement as opposed to the use of heavy weights. An MMA battle involves fast and constant maneuvering, after all (not repeatedly lifting the opponent!) – and this is why it is important in CrossFit to take on high reps with weights that offer some resistance but not too much (as opposed to using the extremely heavy ones that a powerlifter might use).
Simplicity and Variety of Motion
During your CrossFit training class, you can expect a quick succession of many different exercises designed to replicate the simple pushing and pulling movements that come with martial arts training. This includes activities such as rowing, push presses, box jumps, and wall-ball shots – with short, one-minute rests between each five-minute round. Granted, these may in some ways feel like the longest five-minute time periods of your life – but hey, what would you do if your opponent kept getting up and coming back at you? The answer: try a few new moves – and, most importantly, keep going until you win the match! And that's exactly the point of CrossFit: this, too, is a battle – except, in this case, you're fighting the couch and the flab.
Adam & Amanda
We have spent most of our adult lives training and guiding thousands of people toward better health & fitness. We have created this A4 Blog in order to better educate our friends & members. We will answer any of your health / fitness / nutrition questions as well as keeping you posted on what's new at A4.