CrossFit & Pain
My dad always told me to work hard - no matter what. Sometimes that meant dealing with pain, which is something I believe CrossFitters can relate to. With all of the hard work we put into training at CFTC, muscle soreness, fatigue and injury are realities of our sport.
While playing football over the past 10 years, including college ball, I have experienced many types of pain. Throughout my career, I have broken a femur, fingers and toes, dislocated an elbow, and have had a concussion or two. The football player mentality was to tough it out and play through the pain. High school and college players need to be on the field to give themselves the opportunity to play at the next level.
Now a former college athlete, I have to walk a fine line. The “win at all costs” drive is still there, but my goals are now different. I’m not competing for a scholarship, I’m competing to stay in shape, be healthy, and improve my overall fitness. CrossFit is a place where limits are constantly pushed. Being able to interpret and diagnose pain so injuries can be avoided is critical for long term success.
Identifying the difference between pain you can push through and pain you cannot safely train with is the tricky part. Everyone’s pain threshold and tolerance is different. It is imperative that you listen to your body, as this will be your guide. I find being able to dig deep some days and fight through the pain of a workout is a personal challenge. This does not mean you ignore the pain, as there is pain to work through and pain that means stop. Being able to recognize when to keep pushing and when to slow down or stop takes gradual experience and practice.
Sharp, stabbing pains at a localized point are typically an indication that it is time to stop. Sharp, chronic, point tender types of pain with no movement are often related to bone injuries such as stress fractures, caused by repetitive forceful motions. Muscle strains will more often than not, show as a sharp pain with a certain movement.
Soreness is another pain many CrossFit athletes face. It is dependent on multiple factors, but one factor is how hard you push your body in a workout. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) affects numerous athletes, as it is part of the body’s repair process. There will be days you feel sore and will still work out, and days your body will tell you it is time to rest. Pay attention to those signs. There is a point where extremely sore and fatigued muscles indicate you should take a break.
Looking back on my injuries now as an athletic trainer, I realize I should have been more vocal about my various injuries. Proper assessment and advice could have helped me to recover more quickly, and assisted in preventing any new injuries. Always listen to your body, and speak up if you have concerns. Your support team of coaches, athletic trainers and doctors are here to help you continually progress towards your goals.