Injury and Opportunity
By Bill Starr

Anyone who trains seriously for any length of time is going to sustain an injury. This is simply a law of nature, and no one, as of yet, has found a way to avoid it.

Even those who do fitness routines and use light weight for higher reps still get dings somewhere along the way. Then there are those injuries that occur outside the weight room: hurting a shoulder when chopping down a tree that had fallen across a driveway, tweaking something while helping a friend move some extremely heavy furniture up three flights of twisting stairs, falling from a ladder while cleaning out the gutters. Injuries are a part of life.

Lao Tzu, author of “Tao Te Ching,” summed the matter up rather profoundly. An older contemporary of Confucius, he wrote the following in the sixth century B.C.: “Accept misfortune as the human condition. Misfortune comes from having a body.”

Eternal truth, and what really amazes me is that more people don’t get hurt while lifting weights. They don’t bother to warm up at all before doing their workouts, overtrain their upper bodies to the extreme, never bother stretching after a session, and do many exercises using very sloppy form. But sooner or later, this neglect of the more important aspects of strength training and bodybuilding catches up with them and they have to deal with an injury.

At the same time, I am well aware that even when an athlete does everything right in terms of preparation and using proper technique, he can still get injured. That’s because there are so many variables to deal with when an athlete is striving to improve the top-end numbers on several exercises and also pushing the workload higher and higher. The major variables are rest, nutrition, biorhythms and, perhaps most important of all, mental stress.

ALT TEXTAthletes can still train while injured, but they need to be smart. (Dave Re/CrossFit Journal)

The weather also takes its toll. Many athletes get injured when cold weather rolls in and they don’t take the time to thoroughly warm up before training. Extremely hot weather can take its toll, as well. If water-soluble vitamins and minerals, along with plenty of fluid, aren’t provided, muscles and attachments can be dinged.

Then there are the old injuries to contend with. Any joint or area of the body that has been hurt previously is more prone to being hurt again later in life. That pulled hamstring you got while playing football in high school is more likely to be hurt again than the one that was not dinged. When I first started adding long runs to my fitness routine, I turned my left ankle at least once a month. It’s still my weaker ankle, and if I overwork my ankles doing lunges or squats, that’s the ankle that gives way first. Over the many years that I have been weight training, participating in a wide variety of sports, and been through minor and serious accidents of one kind or another, I have probably injured every body part in some manner, which means I have to pay attention and make sure I warm up properly before putting my body under stress, both in and out of the weight room.

Finally, some dings develop over a long period of time and can’t be traced to any singular event. Rotator-cuff injuries are often like that, as are problems in the back and hips. These dings don’t necessarily mean the athlete used faulty form on the exercises in his routine. It’s simply a matter of accumulated workload over the years finally taking its toll. Constant heavy training is not conducive to long-term health. But many strength…

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