The Top 9 Biggest Rehab Mistakes Crossfitters Make: Part 2

By djpope

July 29, 2013

Crossfit, injury prevention, mistakes, physical therapy, Rehabilitation

 fail-dogfoodSo we’ve all made some rehab mistakes on our conquest for crossfit glory.  If you missed it, last week I went over numbers 9 through 6 on my list of biggest crossfit rehab mistakes.  You can check it out HERE:  This week I present the final 5 on my list.  Enjoy!

5) Assuming that you can just add rehab exercises to your current program and fix your issue

I see a fair amount of people who head straight to their chiropractor/PT/massage therapist once they get hurt.  It’s great to see people who are on top of their rehab and this is definitely the first step.  They get adjusted and get a few exercises to go home with and think they’re set.

“I’ll just do these few exercises along with my regular workout program and I’ll be be good to go.”

Unfortunately, there is some research showing that if we add rehab exercises on top of an already demanding program we actually make athletes worse, not better (4,5).

Note: The research cited was in in-season athletes adding rehab (eccentrics) exercises on top of their regular program.  Athletes without prior tendon damage actually decreased injury risk.  Those with pathological tendons got worse (4).  The authors of a similar study actually recommend NOT stretching during the in-season especially of the achilles, hamstrings and adductors in patients with tendinopathy because of the loading (5).

Note to Note: Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  These are just specific examples of how stretching can be counterproductive.  This is NOT always the case.  It’s just a bit more complicated then we want it to be.

I think the take-away here is that we can’t just ignore our problems and continue to barrel through our regular routines.  We could be causing more harm then good, even if they’re harmless rehab exercises.  Go see a professional and rest the area that is bugging you.

4) Going back to your normal programming too soon

So you just graduated from physical therapy.  Congratulations!

You’ve taken a delicate healing tissue and finally get to the point where you can get through the day pain free, great.  Now let’s head to the gym and hit a 1 rep max on the split jerk.


It’s going to take much more then that until you get back on your normal routine. Take your time getting back to crossfit.  I personally would not add any exercises into my met-con that I haven’t already progressed to being able to work up to fatigue without pain in my regular strength and skill work.

3) Not taking into consideration your body’s individual limitations

I good friend of mine once asked for my advice about losing weight.  He stated that he eats just like all of his friends who are skinny but he seems to be the only one who is packing on the pounds.

When he ended up recording the amount of calories he was taking in every day he realized that he was taking in 5,000 calories.   In case you’ve never looked into how many calories you should take in per day I can say it’s a lot closer to 2,000 then 5,000.

The moral of the story here is that not everyone is going to be to handle the same program and not get hurt, just as my buddy couldn’t take in 5,000 calories and stay skinny.  A lot of crossfit programs are designed for people who want to become good at crossfit competitively.  A lot of people will be able to handle a typical crossfit program and be just fine.  Just like my friend couldn’t tolerate 5,000 calories per day without gaining weight, many people won’t be able to handle a regular crossfit program and stay healthy.

Another example: Rich Froning Jr. trains 13 times per day and so should I.

I don’t know about that.  He’s also a phenomenally gifted athlete and that is what works best for him.  Different strokes for different folks.  The best program for you is going to be different.  Just because you want to look and perform like an NFL running back doesn’t mean you would strap on a football helmet and subject yourself to the same extremes as those athletes right?  Different individuals will need individual programming, especially when you’re biggest interest is staying healthy.

This doesn’t mean to stop your crossfit membership immediately, please don’t do that.  It just means you might have to learn a bit about what your body can and can’t handle and then modify your program accordingly.

2) Not addressing your programming

One of the biggest culprits for injury in the crossfit world is the programming.  Whether it is too much weight used, not enough balance with exercises or just too much work in general, training errors can cause injury.  The program could be the main reason why you got hurt in the first place.  Once you get back to your regular training you should be aware of this and modify your program to ensure you don’t get injured again in the future.

If you have no idea what a smart, efficient crossfit program looks like you can take a look at my programming, which is centered around performance while minimizing risk of injury.  I feel that there are a great deal of highly qualified coaches out there writing great programs.

If you’re in the market for a crossfit program, find one that suits you.  Do the owners program for competitive athletes, or do they program for soccer moms?

1) Not fixing the issue that caused the problem in the first place 

This mistakes piggy backs off the last point.  You may have the world’s best rehab expert fix your pain completely only to return to the gym and get hurt again.  Doing core exercises may fix your back pain but if your back got hurt because you’re overhead press looks terrible (If this is you then find out why HERE) and you go back to pressing poorly, you’re going to be heading right back to your doctor.  At this point you’re doctor is probably telling you to stop doing crossfit.  Now everyone hates doctors.  What a terribly vicious cycle.

The bottom line is that you need to figure out why you got into this mess in the first place.  Was it a mobility problem?  Do you tend to go too heavy with your strength?  Is the programming just too much to handle?  Was it a technical issue?

That’s it!  We’ve all been guilty of these mistakes (3,4 and 6 are probably my biggest issues).  Hopefully you’ve got some guidelines now if you’re rehabbing an injury or just trying to stay injury free.  Until next time.

200 rep rebounding box jumps for achilles health,

Dan Pope

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  1. Paradisis, Theodorou, Pappas, Zacharogiannis, Skordilis and Smirniotou (2013) Effects of Static and Dynamic Stretching on Sprint and Jump Performance in Boys and Girls Journal of Strength and Conditioning
  2. Moreside, McGill (2013) Improvements in hip flexibility do not transfer to mobility in functional movement patterns, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
  3. Gilchrist, J., Mandelbaum, B. L., Melancom, H., Ryan, G. W., Silvers, H. J., Griffin, L. Y., Watanabe, D. S., & Dick, R. W. (2008). A randomized controlled trial to prevent noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injury in female collegiate soccer players. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 36(8), 1476-1483.
  4. Scott, Docking, Vicenzino, Alfredson, Zwerver, Lundgreen, Finlay, Pollock, Cook, Fearon, Purdam, Hoens, Rees, Goetz and Danielson (2013) Sports and exercise-related tendinopathies: a review of selected topical issues by participants of the second International Scientific Tendinopathy Symposium (ISTS) Vancouver 2012 British Journal of Sports Medicine
  5. Cook, Purdam (2013) The challenge of managing tendinopathy in competing athletes, British Journal of Sports Medicine