Injured! Ugh! What now?
It happens to us all. Injury.
The goal of working out is to increase our health, not make it worse. So what gives?
First, my story. (Don't worry, its not long, but unfortunately despite my desire for adventure, this injury is quite boring)
Friday morning I was on Dad duty. Fitz and I went to the Canton Shoppes to grab a smoothie. As luck would have it, they were doing construction, so Fitz got to watch dump trucks and cement mixers for awhile. Everything was awesome. When it was time to go, smoothie in left hand, I got down into a squat to pick Fitz up with my right arm, and BAM! The movement did not agree with my back. I know, I know. I jumped out of planes, I did an ultra-marathon, and workout all the time, and what takes me down? Picking up my 25lb son! But this is typically what happens... this is life. Think about it ... when you come to class, we warmup ... we are mindful about movement and use proper form, and we have a coach looking out for us. What did I not do? Warmup or think about proper form. Now this is not to say that this should cause an injury - it shoudn't. There is more to the story. Lately I've been doing more work at the computer, and as such, I'm sitting at my desk. The act of sitting deactivates many muscles in the hips and core. It has been called the "smoking cigarettes" of the 21st century because it is so bad for us. So in my opinion, what happened, was over the last couple weeks and months, the increased sitting made some muscles less active, and made others tighter. Then I did a move that metaphorically broke the camels back. The move in and of itself was not the worst thing, but put on top of the sitting, it was enough for my body to yell at me. My back became incredibly stiff. Any hinging at the hips or bending was not enjoyable. I could still walk around and do things, but in a very limited sense. I took some ibuprofen, put some Tigers Balm on the back, and carried on with my day. I knew I needed a massage to loosen things up and feel better, and unfortunately that would have to wait until the coming Tuesday.
So what did I do and what is my plan of action? First, I kept a positive attitude. Getting injured sucks and its easy to slip into negativity. I remembered Ben Bergerons words
"There are no such things as setbacks. All those things you think you need to overcome are just opportunities for you to get stronger, for you to get better. Its all part of the process."
What was my back injury telling me? What can I be doing better?
1. Sit less
2. Stretch more
These are two things that we ALL know. But how often do we listen to it? If you are like me, you hear it, but you don't always follow it. I go in phases of stretching a bunch, and then slipping and picking up another habit. The last few months I replaced my morning stretching with reading. I love the peace and quiet at 5am with a cup of coffee. I get a lot of mental gains out of it. But clearly the pendulum shifted too far, so my thought now is to read Mon/Wed/Fri and stretch Tue/Thur. We need balance, right?
What about the sitting? My plan is to look into stand up desks. Still have some research to do there.
Now for the more pressing question - what about working out?
Friday my plan was to do CrossFit Open 20.4, so I was really bummed I could not do it. Friday and Saturday became rest days. I did foam rolling, lacrosse ball, and general stretching, but it only helped a little. Sunday I hopped on the assault bike for 20 minutes to warm up and get a sweat, and then did some gentle movements - hip openers, hip raises, dead bug abs, ring rows, etc. Monday was a rest day. I was hopeful to get a massage in but it was not doable. Tuesday I'm booked for a massage. Wednesday I'll do another gentle movement warmup and mini-workout. Thursday, fingers crossed, I'll do a very scaled class workout, and Friday I'll be 70% back in action. So that accounts for about 1 week of recovery time. Is it a bummer? YEP. But I'm using the time I used to workout to really get after work and stay productive. Life goes in waves. You can't always be at 100%. If you can learn to adapt to that fact and stay positive, its not so bad. Even though I'm not working out with heavy weights and intensity, I'm trying to keep the habit of the workout as much as the same as possible. I recommend you do the same - still go to the gym, still stay active, just be smart about your movements. If you need help - ask a coach. Some things we can switchup and still have you do class, other things may require more personal training and creativity, but movement is always possible.
Fortunately for us at CrossFit Simsbury we have some other health professionals in our midst, so I reached out to Jason Frankel - Chiropractor, for his input on this situation. I mainly wanted his opinion for this blog and to impress upon members how they know if their back is just tight and needs a massage, or if there is something more serious going on that requires a more in depth look. Here is what he had to say:
"A good rule of thumb would be if the issue is just a tight sore muscle than massage might help initially. But if the pain persist after the massage, then it really is a good idea to seek someone like a chiropractor to see if it is not a more complicated issue. It also is a good idea to seek both massage and a chiropractor at the same time as they compliment each other very well. A chiropractor has many tools...manipulation to joints, soft tissue with hands or tools, taping, E-STIM, functional screening to see faulty movement patterns, showing exercises and performing rehab with patients. As for coming back to working out, avoid any movements that aggravate the issue or ask a coach how to scale the movement or maybe perform a different movement all together. Lower the weights and or reps and continue this until the pain has subsided exponentially. People should not be afraid of movement just because they are in pain, but they do need to move the right way to help normalize the locomotor system with the guidance of a specialist, ie. chiropractor or PT."
Any questions, let either of us know!