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Are you new to CrossFit? Have you been training with CrossFit for a while and concerned about injury? Here are three things to keep in mind to help protect your body from injury during your Workout of the Day (WOD).
1) Pay Attention To Form
Although WOD’s are centered around timed intervals, resist the temptation to prioritize high reps over good form. Doing repetitive exercises with sloppy body mechanics for a prolonged period of time can cause chronic muscle strain and imbalance, leaving your body more susceptible to acute and chronic injuries. Even as you find your endurance threshold growing, don’t forget the basics of good form—and when incorporating new exercises or movements, always take time to walk through the form ahead of time. Pay particularly close attention to squats, since they easily lead to knee and hip injuries. Before starting a squat, make sure your toes are pointing out slightly, paralleling the direction that your kneecaps point when standing. As you sink into the squat, make sure your knees track with your toes and that you distribute your weight back to the heels of your feet rather than the toes. Following these measures not only ensures a healthier squat, but also a higher calorie burn and a workout spread more evenly across all muscles involved.
2) Understand Your Weaknesses
Everyone has muscles or muscle groups that are weaker than others. Many common workout movements target the large, visible muscle groups–allowing people to quickly gain a more muscular appearance. But weaknesses in smaller or less sexy muscles can easily warp one’s body mechanics, even if one is trying to keep a proper form. Weak hamstrings or hip flexors, for example, can make it nearly impossible to do a proper squat. Likewise, weak muscles deep in the abdominal core can destabilize the spine and the hip flexors. Weak ankles and flat feet can cause added stress to the knees, hips and back while running. To get a handle on your muscle weaknesses, ask a fitness professional—like a CrossFit coach or a physical therapist—to evaluate your body mechanics while walking, running, squatting and/or deadlifting to assess for possible muscle weaknesses. With the guidance of a professional, develop a plan to strengthen the muscle groups that need it, even if this means altering your WODs or certain exercises for a period of time.
3) Working Up While Working Out
If necessary, work up to a certain exercise or rep number. Not everyone can or should attempt a pull up right away, even while kipping your hips. Follow your coach’s advice on incremental steps towards an exercise goal. It is better for your body in the long run to build physical fitness and muscular development on a strong, steady foundation, rather than to push yourself too quickly through a workout and risk injury.