1. Poor movement over time tends to cause damage and pain.
Arthritis, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, strains pains and pulls. However you want to call it. If we can start moving better, we can start staving off these things before they start occurring. It’s the only “true” cure. Program smarter, listen to your body and prioritize perfecting technique always.
2. Better technique = better performance and less injury
Sometimes I see technique so bad it makes me want to claw my eyes out. It’s one of the biggest criticisms of crossfit in general. By following this principle you’ll be more efficient, stronger, faster and be less prone to hurting yourself. Win, win. Read my position HERE.
3. If you want to get better at something, you’ve got to make it a priority.
About 9 months ago I decided I needed to work on my squat. My squat was absolutely awful and I was actually embarrassed to talk about how pitiful my squat numbers were. Instead of just ignoring this I made it a priority.
I backed off of deadlifting and prioritized squatting, squatting anywhere between 2 and 5 times per week. The result?
400lbs, a 75lb improvement over the course of about 9 months.
4. Work your weaknesses for success in competition
Coming from a strongman and gymnastics (polevaulting) background I loved deadlifts, overhead press, muscle-ups and handstands. Then I’d go to a competition and bomb the snatches, squats and everything in between. This past year was a huge change for me. I prioritized my weaknesses and had some successes in competition.
5. You don’t need to deadlift as often as you may think to maintain your deadlift strength.
On my journey to squat prowess I really put deadlifting on the backburner. I didn’t deadlift heavy for about 6 months. I focused on olympic lifts, squats and once in a blue moon some speed deadlifting. The result?
500lbs x 5 reps. All-time best was 7 reps but now I’m 15 pounds lighter (170lbs) and have a 400lb squat to boot. I guess the westside powerlifters were really onto something with all the speed pulls and squatting.
6. Doing too much is a great way to get yourself hurt.
I say this every year and every year I don’t heed my own warnings. You can’t underestimate the power of listening to your own body, taking planned rests and deloading.
I’m nursing a shoulder injury as we speak.
7. Limited ankle dorsiflexion flexibility is the cause of most terrible looking squats. (and a lotof knee pain)
Most people I assess have limited ankle flexibility. This is really going to limit your ability to get into a deep squat without rounding your back and shooting inter-vertebral discs across the room.
8. Shoulder Injuries are rampant in the crossfit population
What do you get when you do snatching, overhead press, dips, pushups, kipping pull-ups and handstand pushups throughout the week every week?
If you don’t do it right, some banged up shoulders. Make sure you’ve got smart programming at your facility. Don’t be afraid to substitute some rowing exercises into your program in place of pressing. Your shoulders will thank you.
9. Eliminate asymmetries to prevent future injury
This is Gray Cook’s mantra. What’s the second leading risk factor for developing an injury? That’s right, left to right assymetry. (Previous injury is the first in case you were wondering)
You know that left hamstring that is tighter then the right? The left shoulder that can’t seem to get those last few reps? Those are the first places you’ll find yourself injured, or getting injured elsewhere because of those assymetries. Fix these issues.
10. The knee is a slave to the hip and the foot/ankle.
If you’ve got knee pain then the best place to begin correcting this is to start working on these areas. Learn more HERE. Stretching the quads, foam rolling, etc etc. is great but you’re just going to be hurting again next week when you start squatting poorly on a regular basis.
11. Poor Shoulder and Thoracic Spine Mobility = Shoulder Pain
If you don’t have the flexibility to raise your arms overhead without any weight in your hands then you probably shouldn’t be doing it with weight. Figure out if you have enough flexibility to press overhead. Fix your thoracic spine. Fix your shoulder flexibility. Be happy again.
12. Your lower back likes to be left alone.
Your lower back is built with a crap ton of musculature surrounding it in order to keep it strong and stable. With movement (squats, deadlifts, presses, etc etc) the lower back should be kept nice and still while movement occurs primarily from the hips, thoracic spine (upper back) and shoulders.
When people hurt their lower backs the first thing they’ll try to do is stretch it. Usually the reason why it hurts in the first place is because it was doing too much movement with exercise. Learn to move from your hips and keep your “core” stable. Stretch the hips, ankles and thoracic spine instead.
That’s all I’ve got guys! What have you learned in the year of 2012?
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