“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. Third rule of Fight Club: Someone yells stop, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over.” Tyler Durden
That may be true for fight club but with CrossFit it’s the opposite. If you are a CrossFitter or you know someone that does CrossFit, you know the first rule of CrossFit. The first rule of CrossFit is: You always talk about CrossFit! Like it or not this niche of athletes is here to stay and they have their own unique common injuries, personality traits and culture.
Some physical therapists in the Atlanta area embrace the CrossFit culture and are an active part of trying to help the community grow. Other physical therapists think CrossFit is the worst thing you could ever do for your body. If you’re a CrossFit athlete and do get hurt, it can be difficult picking the right provider. I wrote a post on this topic previously and I recommend checking it out. (4 Keys To Picking The Right Physical Therapist)
This post is if you’ve already found your way to a physical therapy clinic and how to know if you’re in the wrong place.
1. Your physical therapist doesn’t have a squat rack or kettle bells.
If you’re a CrossFit athlete, you are very familiar with barbells and kettle bells. It should be a bit of a red flag if the clinic you’re in doesn’t have these things. I’m not saying the clinic should be set up like a small CrossFit gym (even though that would be awesome!). I’m saying that these are very common place in strength training as well as rehab. If the PT clinic you are in hasn’t progressed to get these tools, they probably don’t have the strength and conditioning experience to help you get back to 100%. You’re in the wrong place.
2. Your physical therapists doesn't actually watch you do the activities that aggravate you.
Most of the people that come to see me have seen another provider (PT, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Physician) before they see me. I always ask this question. Did the other provider you worked with actually watch you do whatever movement aggravates you? Almost 100% of the time the answer is no. If you have pain with squatting, doesn’t it make sense that the person you’re going to for help should watch you squat. How about running? How many of you have had pain with running but your provider never actually watches you run. It would be like you taking your car to the mechanic and he never starts it up or drives it around to see what’s wrong. This is a big red flag. If your PT isn’t evaluating your movement, you’re in the wrong place.
3. Your physical therapist gives you some handouts for home exercises that look like they were put together in the 1980s.
I had a client the other day that actually brought me a handout he was given by a PT clinic he stopped going to. It was a handout on how to do a leg press. This guy laughed as he showed it to me because it was a picture of a elderly woman doing a leg press on some Nautilus equipment. This athlete happens to squat over 400 pounds and needless to say didn’t appreciate being given a handout of how elderly women should use a leg press.
What you do for your homework exercises, in my opinion, is more important than what PT does with you in their office. You may see your PT 1-3 hours a week. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time you’re on your own. Education is the key to fast and long lasting results. If your PT clinic is relying on out of date handouts, you’re in the wrong place.
4. Your physical therapist tells you to stop doing CrossFit.
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve seen at this point that have been told to stop doing CrossFit. If you’re reading this and you’re a medical provider, stop doing this shit! What do you think a runner would do if you just told them to stop running? How about a triathlete if you just told them to stop doing triathlons? Come on, these are sports these people have chosen because they are passionate about them. Don’t tell them to stop doing what they love. We have to teach these athletes how to maintain their bodies, improve movement faults and train in a smart manner. If your physical therapist tells you to stop doing CrossFit, you’re in the wrong place.
You only have one body, treat it with the respect it deserves. Be an informed consumer and pick a physical therapist that understands your sport and your goals. There can be a massive difference in physical therapists even though they have the same piece of paper from an accredited university. Pick someone you feel comfortable with and if you catch yourself in a place that sounds like what I’ve described above, you can leave. Just give them their leg press handout back, thank them for their time and move on to the next physical therapist.
If you’re in the Atlanta area and are a CrossFit athlete, we believe that Athletes’ Potential is the best place for you. If you are still on the fence shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do a free 10 min phone consultation with you to see if we can help you and if you’re a good fit for our clinic.
Thanks for reading and keep training hard!
-Dr. Danny, PT, DPT
Dr. Danny and staff's views on performance improvement, injury prevention, and sometimes other random thoughts.