Most Common Injuries and What You Can Do About Them
After 7+ years of owning this gym, we have noticed a pattern in which injuries seem to always be at the top of everyone’s list. Here are the most common pain concerns we see among our athletes and some things you can do to start to fix them.
Lower Back Pain
A common cause of lower back pain is tight hamstrings. Of course lower back pain can have a WIDE variety of causes, and some of them can be very serious, but more often than not, we see a connection between the lower back pain and the tightness of the athlete’s hamstrings. If you think about it, a tight hamstring has nothing to do besides pull on what’s around it- so it pulls down on your glutes and back. This is good news because it’s an easy fix!
In CrossFit, we are loading our hamstrings all the time. Deadlifts, squats, wallballs, running, lunging- the list goes on. So the way to start seeing your pain alleviated is to be sure you’re stretching those hamstrings post-workout as a cool down. After your class, your muscles are nice and warm. It’s the perfect time to stretch out your hamstrings and glutes in order to not give them a chance to stiffen up. Try pigeon pose, runner’s stretch, forward fold, seated forward fold, and using a band to loop around your foot as you lay with your leg in the air and pull on the band. Foam rolling is always helpful as well! Need assistance? Ask a coach for help!
With all of our front rack positions, overhead movements, and burpees, our wrists bear quite a bit of load sometimes. Usually we see people in the beginning of their training journey complain a lot about wrist pain. We’ve seen that this is because the tendons in your wrist need time to strengthen and get used to the new ways you’re using them. Muscles grow and strengthen faster than tendons do. So be patient with yourself and take it easy as your tendons try to catch up to what you’re doing. Eventually, with proper care and good movement, your wrist pain will lessen. Wrist wraps can help with pain but we encourage people to not use them 100% of the time in order to give your wrists a chance to strengthen on their own.
To help with the pain, try stretching your wrists out before class. You can sit down and place your palms on the floor, pressing your bodyweight onto your hands so you feel a stretch in the wrists. Try placing your hands both directions to the wrists get stretched out both ways.
For front rack wrist pain: make sure you’re resting the barbell on your shoulders/body and NOT bearing the load in your actual hand. Often times people with poor mobility will hold the bar too much in their hand, therefore not letting the body support the weight. Try to release a couple of outer fingers from the grip in front rack, so that you are able to raise your elbows higher and position the barbell on your shoulders.
For overhead wrist pain: punch the ceiling! We need strong wrists in a straight, aligned position when we go overhead with weight. If your wrist is bent and your hand in a relaxed position, this puts a ton of strain on those tiny tendons. Ouch. Think about “punching” upward so you have an aligned wrist, forearm, and fist.
This is a big one especially for those of us who work desk jobs in the day and CrossFit by night. All day you sit rounded over a computer and then come to CrossFit where we do a lot of shrugging, pulling, and pushing movements. Our trap muscles and shoulders can often feel like rocks. This can cause headaches, chest tightness, and an overall uncomfortable pain that can keep you from doing your best. So what can we do about it?
First, you can be sure you’re throwing in chest stretches and back strengthening movements when you can. Bent over rows and the crossover symmetry system that we have on the wall in the gym are both great ways to strengthen your back. Ring pulls and face pulls are great moves to do this as well (think of a face pull as a ring pull but higher up towards your face). Secondly, It’s helpful to use a lacrosse ball against the wall or the spikey foam roller immediately after a workout while the muscles are warm and easily rolled out. Finally, you can try cupping and sports massage by our in-house therapist, Andy. The traps are such a difficult area to target on yourself that you may need a professional to really get in there to break up the tension.
Foot Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)
Running and jumping can cause a weird foot tightness and a pain that can get so bad it might even prevent you from walking. It’s important to roll out your feet as soon as you start to feel this pain to prevent it from worsening. Rolling your foot on a lacrosse ball and sitting back on your feet to stretch them out are really good ways to keep those muscles lengthened and happy.
Got another injury or pain and not sure what to do? Ask a coach! Coach Sara Gomez is in school studying to be a physical therapist assistant and would love the extra practice from answering your questions. Coach Nolan has a certification in mobility and can help you find warm ups, cool downs, and accessory moves that will target the area in question. And of course we have our resident sports massage therapist with an office in the back- Andy Hegel! He has several tools, not just his cupping, that can help you find real relief fast. We’re here to help you fix your pain so you can operate at your best!