CrossFit & Chiropractic
1. “I hurt it doing CrossFit”
A saying I often hear in my office.
Well fret no more, I’m here to confirm: CrossFit didn’t hurt you. Running didn’t hurt you. Snowboarding a black diamond didn’t hurt you. Bad motor patterns…THAT’S what got you. Doing those activities without the proper technique for years on end hurt you. Nothing to be shameful or guilty about because we’ve all experienced that at one point or another in our lives. But, the sooner we can understand the real problem, the sooner we can create a solution.
Motor patterns are the signaling patterns our brains use to make our bodies move. For instance, when you think to walk, it takes your brain a split second to put together the sequence of muscle engagement to first stabilize your spine, then core, then engage your leg muscles to take that first step. As babies, we build great motor patterns because we are constantly teaching ourselves how to get up from the ground in the most efficient manner. For those of you with children or who’ve had the opportunity to watch children grow have witnessed the, sometimes comical, struggle to create those motor patterns.
As we grow older, we tend to put our bodies into very unnatural positions for extended periods of time, like sitting. In doing this we engage in what is known as creep deformation. This is where your muscles start to become chronically tight or stretched because of the position we keep the muscles in for prolonged periods of time.
This asymmetrical tension often leads to distorted motor patterns by leaving certain muscles constantly engaged. Let’s say the proper motor pattern for a movement is Muscle A then Muscle B then Muscle C. When our bodies are subject to these deformations, that pattern can switch to Muscle B then Muscle A then Muscle C. This may not seem like the most crucial of differences, and for the most part, on a situational/daily basis they aren’t the worst thing in the world. But imagine that pattern being distorted day after day after day. Now increase the load(weight) put on the body with those improper patterns. These lead to what we consider Cumulative Trauma Disorders AKA pain that arises from “nowhere”. You didn’t fall, tear or rip anything in your body but…you’re injured…how’d that happen?
Amongst other issues, when a muscle is chronically engaged/contracted, decreased blood flow runs through the muscle, leaving it less responsive and less capable of repairing itself. This is why PROPER muscle compression(foam rollers, lacrosse balls, sticks) is so critical to healthy muscle function.
So, no! CrossFit Didn’t DO that to you, it shed light on a dysfunction within you that has probably been there for years. You just never stressed your body out to the point where it became symptomatic(painful).
2. “Movement Patterns?
Yea. You know all that technique you hear these elite coaches and athletes stressing about all the time? Well those techniques are based on the human body’s most efficient way to create movement. From Olympic lifting to cycling, proper technique ensures you use the most advantageous muscles for that particular movement. This is what makes CrossFit or any type of cross training so much more effective than isolation exercises: You train multiple joints of the body at the same time and (with good technique) in unison.
I specialize in a Chiropractic approach that is based on these movement patterns. In the office, we train people how to break out of their current dysfunctional pattern and how to re-learn a more comfortable, natural movement according to the human body’s joint positions(which vary slightly for everyone). This is typically the reason the pain that came out of nowhere a month/year ago is gonna take more than one visit to FIX. Dysfunction in the body will, over time, typically lead to pain. Pain is NOT something that needs to be pushed through. Pain is the body’s signal to let you know something’s wrong! Pushing through that signal is, what i consider, self-abuse. The best athletes in the world are typically the ones that are most in tune with their bodies. Learn to be more aware, it can save ya!
Oh wait, did i mention Scar tissue? I’ll let you guess what the next blog post is about!
3. “But the board said to use _____ weight!”
Yep. Easy solution here. Don’t be an idiot.
Those numbers are a good goal to work towards. Does it mean you have to hit it every workout? NO! We all have our strengths and weaknesses. The real issue here is Ego. We’ve all been there. My first CrossFit workout I got smoked by a 60+ year old named Mary(Love you Mary!). Yea my ego was ripped to shreds, at first. Swallow your pride and be honest with yourself. The sooner you can accomplish this the faster you will reach your goals.
Compare yourself to…who you were yesterday, no one else!
Be vocal. Let your trainer/coach know what’s going on with you(if anything) so they can help you modify the movement or weight. Scale Scale Scale! Most movements can be broken down and weight can always be brought down. Move the ego to the side and do work ;)
4. “But the coaches at that one CrossFit gym, suck, that’s why I got hurt”
This is a good one. This issue extends beyond CrossFit. It’s the amount of effort we put into finding someone who can help us. This goes further than finding a “good gym” or “Box”(Xfit lingo for Xfit gyms). It’s amazing how we can be SO particular about the brand sunglasses or shoes we wear but when it comes to finding someone/an establishment to help improve our health we look for the easiest, cheapest, most convenient situation then complain when we don’t get the results we were looking for.
Not all gyms are alike. Not all chiropractor doctors are alike. Not all medical doctors are alike.
Solution: Do your homework!! Don’t blindly join a gym, massage studio, yoga palace, healthcare office(chiro, acupuncture, MD, ortho surgeon) because yelp said it was closest to you. Be curious, ask questions, make sure who you work with is the right fit for you! Health isn’t something that should be dictated to us, it’s a learning process. Make sure you pick a good mentor/ teacher!
The reason I chose to network with CrossFit Adventure in Concord, CA is because the organization strictly emphasizes proper technique. The coaches there are always willing to help you improve, given you do some work (of course). I felt at home from day 1.
If you feel like your coach or trainer makes you feel stupid for asking or is an asshole in general…don’t let them coach you! (I mean, do i really even need to say that?)
Chiropractic care is not about cracking or snapping anything. It’s about allowing proper nervous system regulation by restoring proper joint motion of the body, most importantly the spine. Not necessarily because your “mal-aligned” but because 1 of the 6 joints between each bone in your back isn’t moving the way it was made to. Once it can, the tissues around it can function at their highest capability, the most important of those tissues being the spinal and central nerve tissues. This will help you find the proper range of motion of your joints, making it much easier and more comfortable to place your body in some, seemingly, awkward positions.
The whole reason for our spine is to protect the Central Nervous System, including the brain. The nervous system literally regulates every cellular function of the body. Yea, I’d say that’s pretty important. Not to mention, the body’s posture regulation centers are located in the brain stem…which partly runs through the top 2 vertebra(bones) of the spine. If that brain stem isn’t able to function properly, what do you think happens to your posture? Yep, it deteriorates back into the “slouch monster”. I tell everyone that comes thru my office,
“Posture is under automatic(subconscious) control. Therefore it’s a bit futile to force yourself into good posture, consciously. Until you get the brain turning the right muscles on(and OFF), your posture will continue to deteriorate. “
MORAL of the story is this: Scale yourself. Whether it’s Xfit, training for an Ironman Competition, or just going for a swim. Be honest with where you’re at, physically, and scale your workout to what you can do comfortably. This doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself. It’s better to do 4 reps of a workout properly then to do 100 reps with terrible form. That’s 100 repetitions of telling your body how to do something wrong. You may have gotten your best time but…now you get to deal with issues on the back end of your life. Staying fit and healthy is less about what you can do now and more about how consistently you can do it over your life’s span.
Put some thought into how you move through out your day and dare i say, take responsibility for your decisions! It sucks, i know, but it keeps us from making the same bad decisions again and again. Instead of blaming someone or something for your shortcomings, seek information on how you can improve those shortcomings and hey do you think there’s someone else out there experiencing the same crap you went thru? Maybe YOU can help them one day. Spread love and good information!
Dr. Job Asad is a chiropractor in Walnut Creek and Concord specializing in Functional Movement. For more info please email or contact below.