Picture this. You are at the box. You are rolling out and have the perfect view of everyone in the class before yours. You notice someone struggling with a front squat as his/her chest is so far forward making it almost impossible to stand back up. Or maybe you notice someone doing ring rows with a slouched back and you worry he/she is going to strain his/her shoulders. Do you say something? Perhaps if it is someone you know fairly well. But then again, maybe not. You think to yourself “I am not a coach or an expert so who am I to correct someone?”

Reset that line of thinking. Anyone should feel comfortable giving tips or recommendations to a fellow athlete especially when it comes to safety. Don’t be the guy who just cringes when seeing bad form and never says a thing to the offender directly.

Here are some guidelines that will give you the confidence to help a fellow athlete out:

1) It is advisable in cases where you see someone that needs a tip who you have not yet had a chance to meet, that you do introduce yourself before you go right into what you think is helpful mode. Nobody wants someone coming out of left field who they don’t know that it is not a coach screaming some obscure “tip” at them. There is no shame in helping someone in situations even if YOU are dropping into THEIR box as long as you at least establish a first name basis and are diplomatic about it (more in #3 below).

2) Safety first. Always. If you see someone performing a movement that is unsafe, say something to them! Or if you are not comfortable doing that, tell the coach so he/she can work with the athlete.

3) Don’t be a jerk about it. It’s all in the delivery anytime you give feedback (whether it’s at the box or outside). Avoid saying things like “dude you are doing that all wrong.” or “Oh man that was ugly.” Be helpful about your feedback. If you are noticing something is off, you should be able to pinpoint what the problem is. Tell that to your fellow athlete. Give specifics. Make your feedback helpful and in terms that they can use to correct it. Example: “You were so close to getting that kipping pull up. You had momentum but lost it right before your chin got over the bar. Try to keep that momentum going and you will have it.” Be positive and there is a good chance your assistance will be warmly received.

4) Know when to say it. If your fellow athlete was doing a movement wrong but safety wasn’t being compromised, you do not necessarily need to tell them right there and then. Maybe they weren’t clapping on their burpees or didn’t do an honest push up. You can wait until the metcon is over to correct them or give a tip for the next time they have that movement in a workout.

Since we are talking about giving feedback, I want to add a quick comment on how to receive feedback. Be gracious about it. Know the other person is coming from a good place so do not let your ego get in the way of accepting something that could potentially help you improve.

Go to the Doctor!

This blog is strictly a public service announcement. I have been guilty of something and are hearing of this same mindset more and more that it worries me. I will sound like your mother in this but quite frankly, it’s a reminder we all need.

When something in our bodies hurts or feels off, we find what we think are the right remedies. We take a few rest days, soak in the tub with epsom salts, we tape, we try magical creams. We try everything except the very obvious thing we often need to do which is: Go to the Doctor!

Don’t get me wrong, those remedies are great but they will not necessarily fix whatever is wrong. They may relieve pain and inflammation, however in some cases, they will not be enough to get you fully functional. There’s the right time for all of them and it is important to know when they are not enough.

We delay going to the doctor because we do not want to hear that we are injured. We worry that if we go, we will get bad news and will have to stop working out. We do a handful or more of the aforementioned remedies and sure, we may feel fine for a few days but then boom, we do a movement that sets us back. And so it goes until we are in so much pain we have nothing left to do but go to the doctor.

I am urging everyone to know the difference in their bodies of being fatigued or sore from a workout versus your body sending your brain messages that something is not right. In those cases, the longer you avoid it, chances are the worse it will get. A lot of times we are injured from bad form or mechanics and while resting or taping may relieve the pain, it isn’t fixing the problem. It’s just alleviating the symptoms.

Going to the doctor also may not necessarily mean you are going to leave crying.  Your muscles may just be really tight and he recommends some massages. Maybe you are wearing the wrong shoes and he will suggest inserts. Maybe you are on the cusp of injury and are in that zone where you can turn it around quickly. It could be a million things. Whatever it is, go find out so you can deal with it. Plus, the sooner you uncover what it is, the less recovery you may need.

Injuries always seem to come at the most inopportune times. It’s in the middle of Barbell Club or right before a competition or when you are so close to reaching some goal. There’s never a great time to feel like your fitness is restricted, but take it from me it’s just plain reckless to ignore it.

When you start hearing your friends who work out with you complaining of the same aches and pains, be a real pal and urge them to go to a doctor. For you stubborn peops out there that are doing some pain management tactics, do yourself a favor and Go to the Doctor.