Here at Athletes’ Potential, we’ve had the opportunity to work one-on-one for an hour with over 1,200 people. We’ve worked with people with all kinds of different training backgrounds and by doing so we started noticing some trends. Common weaknesses and movement deficiencies that were not only creating injuries, but hindering performance and preventing people from living an active lifestyle.
So our team of doctors and strength coaches set out to create a solution to this problem and this article highlights that solution as well as some of the problems we kept seeing that were creating injuries, decreasing performance, and preventing people from living a healthy lifestyle.
Problem #1: Lack of Training Variability
Whether your training modality is CrossFit, running, powerlifting, olympic lifting, triathlons, dancing, or any of the other infinite training options out there, there are biases in your programming that cause you to perform some movements all the time and others hardly at all. If we never leave our comfort zone with our training, there’s going to be simple movements that we miss, which overtime can lead to aches and pains and even injury.
Let’s take CrossFit for example. Now obviously we love CrossFit at Athletes’ Potential, all of our physiotherapists are CrossFit coaches themselves, but even for a training program who boasts they “employ a constantly varied approach to training, functional movements, and loads” there are still biases. Tell me...when’s the last time you gripped the bar with a supinated grip (your palms turned up) during a workout? The answer is almost never. Deadlifts, cleans, snatches, pull-ups, toes-to-bar, jerks, dips, rows, etc...all these movements have you in a pronated (palms tuned down) grip. This creates a huge movement bias, and is one of the main reasons I see patients with elbow pain in the clinic.
Try this: Next time you’re in the gym hang on a pull-up bar with your palms down and then with your palms up. You’ll be shocked at how different this feels on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
Problem #2: Training Volume
This graph dramatically oversimplifies the concept of training volume, but essentially training volume is based on two primary variables: load and frequency. As you can see, there is a sweet spot you want to hit called the “Zone of Supraphysiological Overload.” This is where the magic happens, meaning it’s where you get stronger, leaner, healthier, more resilient. However, more often than not I’m seeing people in the red highlighted areas, especially in the zone of structural failure. This is essentially where you get an overuse injury such as biceps tendinopathy, nagging low back pain, or vague knee pain. However, doing nothing is just as bad as doing too much. That’s even true in the medical community, which is why if your healthcare provider is telling your to just rest for a weeks as a way to treat your low back pain, you need to give us a call.
Check this out though, one of the best ways to ensure that your not overloading your muscles and joints at a frequency that is too high is training variability (see above). Training volume and training variability go hand in hand and varying up your training is a great way to prevent tissue failure.
Problem #3: Poor Mobility
What that graph on training volume above failed to mention, is that if you’re moving with poor mobility, your going to fly through those zones until you hit tissue failure. This can’t be overstated. If you’re only deadlifting once a week but your deadlift looks like crap because you lack the requisite hip mobility to pull weight from the floor, you’re tissues will fail faster and you will eventually have an injury.
Looking at people's programming, almost nobody is spending an adequate amount of time focused on improving the mobility. Which is a problem. Being able to move through a full range of motion is crucial for not just training, but for being able to get through life’s demands. Think of your body as a Ferrari, lifting with poor mechanics due to limited mobility is like driving that Ferrari with low motor oil and with the hand brake hand. Sure it’ll still drive, but you’re leaving performance on the table, and eventually it’s going to break down.
Training variability, volume, and mobility are all related and after countlessly having the same conversation with the people we see in the clinic we decided enough was enough. We decided to create a solution that would benefit damn near everyone, and that solution is the Athletes’ Potential Pain-Free Training Plan. Whether your goal is to prevent injuries at CrossFit, improve your running times, or simply become a healthier version of yourself; we’ve created a unique program that requires minimal equipment and minimal time help you reach your goals.
There is simply nothing on the market like this program. It has been developed from the ground up by new-age healthcare professionals who blend the fields of rehabilitation and human performance and we couldn’t be more excited to offer this service to you.
You only get one body, so if you’re ready to stop beating it up, click the link above or fill out a contact request form. We’d love to answer any of your questions. Until then, happy training!
-Dr. Jake, PT, DPT
The CrossFit Open is finally here. After all of the countless hours spent in the gym perfecting your craft, it’s time to see just how far you’ve come in year’s time. I’ve got some good news for you too, simply by signing up for the CrossFit Open you’ve set yourself apart from your peers as only approximately 20% of CrossFit members worldwide have the moxie to put their money where their mouth is and actually sign up for the Open.
Now that you’re here though and you’ve made it through that miserable 18.1 workout, it’s time to grind through another 4 weeks designed to push you to your absolute limit. As daunting as that sounds, there’s a secret out there that elite athletes figured out a long time ago, yet it still gets ignored by most people in the gym. Recovery.
No matter how much you train, most of your hours during the day will be spent recovering. Recovery is undoubtedly the most overlooked aspect of training. Tell me if this sounds like something you (or let’s just say somebody you know). You rush from work to get to the gym, get there barely in time to hear your coach going over the day’s workout, then after blasting through a max level workout you rack your weight, grab your keys and head out to your car to get to the responsibilities waiting for you at home. Rinse and repeat throughout the week.
I see this all the time in the gym, and quite honestly I’d be lying to you if I said I haven’t had this happen to me as well. The issue with this all-to-common scenario though is that when you do this, you are skipping out on arguably the most important aspect of any training program. If you are not recovering appropriately then you’re leaving performance on the table and setting yourself up for injury.
Elite athletes and their trainers know exactly how important it is to recover appropriately, they spend endless resources monitoring their athletes’ bodies vital signs and other physiological functions in order to objectively determine when they are ready to go full throttle. However, for those of us who don’t have the ability to measure things like heart rate variability 24/7, there are a few things you can do to optimize the speed and effectiveness of your recovery:
1. Post Workout Cool-Down: Immediately following a workout do some form of very light activity (ex: walking, light row, light bike, etc) and then take another 10-15 minutes to work on soft tissue and joint mobility. Doing these things will not only decrease the soreness you experience after workouts, but it will allow your body’s heart rate, blood pressure, and nervous system to return to baseline levels. All of which are crucial to optimizing recovery. While you should choose which soft tissue and joint mobilizations you should do based on the movements performed in the WOD, some of my favorites are listed below. Perform each drill for 2 minutes.
2. Get Appropriate Sleep: I cannot overstate how important it is to get appropriate sleep. You should be getting approximately 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and during the open you need to towards the higher end of that range. To find out more information on how to optimize your sleep, check out our previous blog article "Top Two Ways To Improve Your Sleep."
3. Eat the Right Food: As the saying goes, “food is fuel for your body” and you want to be giving yourself some jet fuel to optimize your CrossFit Open performance. What this means is you need to be eating the right foods in the right proportions to restore your body’s energy levels and to give it the needed energy it needs to repair and recover. You can find more info on how to do that by checking out out previous blog, "Which Diet is Right For Me."
4. Staying Hydrated: You should be drinking water constantly to maintain good muscle and vascular health. The general recommendations say to drink 8 eight ounce glasses of water a day. However there are plenty more variables that go into determining the appropriate amount of water for you to drink. Click here to go to a calculator that will give you a better idea of how much water you need to stay appropriately hydrated throughout the Open.
So, if you want to get your best possible score in this year’s Open AND decrease your risk of injury then you need to make recovery a priority. A lot of things factor into recovery periods that are outside of your control (age, genetics, training experience, etc.), but by doing what we covered in this article you will be setting yourself up for success by recovering like a pro and getting the most out of your workouts.
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Jake, PT, DPT
Dr. Danny and staff's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.