Injured… Again

Injury has struck again. This time it isn’t my foot, it’s my shoulder. I have bursitis and tendinitis which is restricting a lot of movements for me right now. The rule of thumb I follow is I cannot do anything where my elbows are at shoulder height or higher. So things like pull ups, toes to bars, push ups, burpees, presses, jerks (to name a few) are on the No Fly list for now until it is healed.

Naturally I am bummed to be injured yet again. It is never easy to have to adjust my workouts (and mindset). A few of my 2015 goals are on hold which makes me a bit down and out. I literally dream about doing muscle ups and butterfly pull ups. The kicker is I do believe I have (“had” might be the better word right now) the strength to do them. It was form and technique I had wanted to practice to be able to do them. I definitely get jealous when I see people doing them or even practicing because I wish that would be me shouting to the universe that I got my first muscle up. But at atlas, I do not let myself go there very often.

I learned a lot from being injured before and so this time around, I am deliberately taking on a very different mindset. When I was dealing with plantar fasciitis I was pretty down about it. I would get frustrated if I did something that caused my foot to hurt. I would get frustrated even just thinking about the things I couldn’t do. I had a lot of meltdowns and pity parties while I worked through healing that injury. Mentally I was way more negative than I am right now. This time around, I choose to remind myself (more successfully than I did last go around) that these injuries are temporary. Not only are they temporary but they don’t require surgery. Resting it (and getting anti-inflammatory shots every 6 weeks) is all I need to do. It’s also my own fault I have them (overuse of my shoulder) so I can’t really blame this on  bad luck (like when I broke my foot running in flip flops through an airport. That was just stupid and bad luck). It’s my own drive to push myself that got me to where I am and it’s that same drive that will get me out.

I push away thoughts about what I am missing out on and chose to focus on new goals that are within my reach right now. My biggest goal right now is squatting. I am in the 7th week of the Hatch Squat Cycle, which for those who aren’t familiar with it, I can safely say it’s the most difficult and challenging squat cycle I have ever done. It is 2 days a week (typically I do them Mondays and Wednesdays) of 4-5 sets of Back Squats and then 4-5 sets of Front Squats. They tend to be at higher percentages of my 1 RM’s often at higher volumes. I am so spent from doing the back squat portions that when transitioning to Front squats, no matter how “light” they are, they still suck. I’m driven though to keep pushing through the pain because I am setting new goals for myself to make up for the ones I have to put aside. I want very badly to be able to back squat 200 lbs. (my current 1 RM is 184 so it is quite possible and realistic). I would love to also add another 15 or 20 lbs. to my front squat (currently I can front squat 160). And in the process of squatting my ass off literally, I hope by the 12th and last week of this cycle, my booty and legs will look fantabulous. New goals are helping me get through this injury.

A few other glaring differences that are making this injury more manageable are that 1) “misery” loves company and 2) customized programming.

Not that I want anyone else to be injured but I am not- so- secretly happy that I have a workout buddy who is also in the #noshoulderclub. My friend and fellow athlete, Amy, is also dealing with an injury in her shoulder with very similar restrictions as me. The days we are both in LA, we work out together. While we can’t be part of main class, it at least makes training feel not so lonely. (If I wanted to train solo, I for sure would not be at CrossFit). It also helps me stay on track and commiserate after a workout was done as to wow that was way harder to do than it looked on paper. It keeps me feeling like I am not in this journey alone. Not to mention Amy has one of the strongest and most humble workout ethics that I admire so it’s very encouraging and positive to be working out side by side with her.

Ok so onto #2 that I mentioned above. Sure, I could continue to go to main classes and have the coaches modify them for my shoulder. My concerns with this are 1) I can easily walk into a class with a workout that has all movements I cannot do so I would essentially be doing a customized workout anyways. Example: 21-15-9 HSPU, ring dips and push-ups. I would not be able to do any of those movements. 2) As talked about earlier, I have new goals now. I NEED goals to help me feel like I am working towards something and not just working out for the sake of working out. The best solution for this is to have someone program customized workouts for Amy and I. And who better for the job than Zoo? We hired her to program 5 days a week for us and so far, it’s been amazing and challenging. She has been super creative with finding movements and coming up with metcons that we would not necessarily encounter in CrossFit. It’s a mix of standard stuff with even some body building movements. Our workouts are obviously very leg heavy with a healthy mix of ab and core stuff as well. We do arm movements where we can so despite an injury, we still feel like we are using the muscles in our arms where we can without pain or discomfort.

Sure, I could make my focus to just not make my injury worse. That would be a logical, healthy objective. But if you know me, I thrive off of getting stronger. As I said, CrossFit and being active is more than just being active or maintaining for me. It’s about constantly getting stronger and better. I’ve posted about this before and I think this point is worth repeating. Having an injury does not mean you have to halt all progress or that you will get weaker. Ok yes I concede that I would be naive to think I am not losing some of my shoulder strength but I’m not losing all of it. (I flash back to being in a cast for 6 weeks where years of hard work were washed away from 6 weeks of total inactivity. I lost muscle everywhere, not just my leg. So I know it could be worse than my current situation). My legs and core are stronger than they ever have been. The volume of work I put them through I would not have been able to sustain 6 weeks ago. By my legs getting stronger and improving my squats, this will translate into so many other movements. When my shoulder injury is kicked, I know in my heart of hearts that I will see incredible improvement across the board.

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Control

CrossFit carries a certain mindset much of the time which is to go big or go home. We lift heavy, we train hard and we rep out movements like nobody’s business. Our workouts require us to be powerful and explosive…sometimes. A common theme I have noticed lately is that athletes go hard for certain movements where really control needs to be demonstrated.

We forget how beneficial control is. We should be the boss of a barbell not the other way around. When the weight gets heavy or there are a lot of reps, it is easy to want to just keep going to get a faster time. This happens a lot with presses and cleans. We end up doing a bunny hop because we let the barbell get in control. Even doing movements like back squats require a lot of control. When you let the bar dictate where your elbows go that is when you find yourselves having to bail too early. When you find yourself being thrown around by a movement, stop for a second and reset. Get in control.

Many body weight movements also require control and not going at them at full throttle. For example, when you get more proficient at things like pull ups and toes to bars, the space you move in should be minimal. The more you kick and have explosive kips, the bigger your movement is and therefore it’s actually less efficient. You’ll burn out faster because you are using more energy. Try using more control and your core!

Double unders, which are not an easy feat to master, also require control. The higher you jump or bend your knees, the less efficient you are being. They are one of the easier movements to get yourself tripped up on (literally). You go from doing fast deadlifts let’s say to transitioning to double and you need to slow your roll down friends! Double unders take concentration and a lot of control and when you go too hard, even if you manage to string a lot together, you will burn out.

Hand Stand Push Ups. Let’s talk about these for a minute. Yes they take a great amount of strength but of course they also require being in control of your body while you are upside down. If you do not have your core stabilized or your lats in the right position, you will find yourself falling off the wall. I don’t care how strong you are when it comes to cleaning or jerking. If you go too hard or too fast in an HSPU without being in control, you won’t string together many reps.

Ok I think you get my point by now. Going hard is only part of the equation. Start thinking about being more in control. My recommendation is add some exercises to strengthen your core (check out hashtag #operationsportsbra on InstaGram). Having a stronger core translates to having more control of your body.