7 Ways to Stay Safe During the Crossfit Open

By djpope

March 9, 2014

crossfit open, injury prevention

CROSSFIT_GAMES_OPEN_2013_P4-804x1024We’re two weeks into the Crossfit Open and I’ve been having quite a bit of fun with the workouts so far.  I’ve worn two small holes in my hands during the pull-ups last week but otherwise my body is holding in there pretty well.  The Open is a great time of the year to see what you’re made of and compare yourself against athletes all across the globe.

Inevitably, every year people do get hurt.  Sports injuries more commonly occur during competition and I believe the Open is no exception.   Your adrenaline is high, you’re pushing your limits, you’re pushing to hit the rx workout and often times we’re more apt to ignore aches and pains when the stakes are higher.  Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy during the open and reduce your risk of injury.

1. Remember your goals

Some of you have been competing for years and have a serious shot at doing well in the open and potentially making it to regionals and beyond.  If that’s you, then by all means go for it.  You’ve trained hard for this moment and it’s your time to work.

If you aren’t looking to make it to regionals or just aren’t in shape to give it a shot then it may be wise not to push the envelope.  This is something I discuss with my patients.  I’ve had several people tell me they have some nagging or recent injuries and didn’t know what to do going into the open.  You’ve got to remember my bias as a physical therapist but if you’re having pain and don’t have aspirations of becoming the next Rich Froning Jr. or Sam Briggs it may be wise to shut things down.  If you’re the next champion coming out of the woodwork then it may be worth it to you.

If a workout comes up that you know is going to really compromise your body and you have no aspirations of competing in the region then the juice probably isn’t worth the squeeze.  Sure, sometimes we can push through pain and make it out on the other side fine but sometimes we end up pushing into a place that requires months of rehabilitation or worse.

2. Listen to your body

I’ve had several patients who have had injuries weeks before the open ask me if they should be competing.  I think that the one to answer that question should be yourself.  What is your body telling you?  Can you train without pain?  Are you avoiding several exercises because you know your body can’t tolerate them in hopes that you’ll magically be able to handle them when they show up in a workout?  Remember just how tough these workouts are and if you aren’t prepared for the workouts then I wouldn’t chance it.

Take plenty of time to warm-up thoroughly to make sure your joints and muscles aren’t giving you any problems.  If they are, then be smart.  Modify and proceed with caution.  If your shoulder is killing you in the middle of a workout don’t be afraid to shut things down.  The ensuing injury isn’t worth the extra few reps.

Also, don’t be afraid to modify things if you need to.  If you’ve got some nagging knee pain then 150 wall balls in a row probably isn’t going to improve it.  Be honest with yourself.  If you aren’t seriously on the border of making it to regionals or beyond, then what is the point?  Warm up well, see how your knee feels and proceed with caution.  If your knee isn’t holding up then shut it down.  Have a back up plan so you can still have a good workout.


3. Make smart decisions

This one goes along with listening to your body.  If 165lb snatches show up again this year in the open and your snatch max is 155 then please don’t spend 5 minutes missing 165lbs repeatedly.  If you can’t snatch 165lbs when you’re fresh then what makes you think you’ll be able to snatch it after thoroughly exhausting yourself with breakneck pace burpees and snatches.

Have the confidence to stop the workout and move on when needed.  You may end up kicking yourself the next few weeks because your shoulder hurts after a workout just because you were too stubborn to shut things down when pain sets in (If only I had a penny for every time I’ve heard that).  Often times when we end up pushing through pain we don’t even perform very well.   That’s a lose-lose situation.

4. Don’t redo the workouts too many times

Higher training volumes have consistently been shown to increase risk of injury in multiple sports.  Crossfit is no exception.  You wouldn’t do burpees and snatches 3 days in a row in your normal training.  Don’t redo the workout unless you feel confident that you’ll be able to increase your score (and that increasing your score will actually count for something) and you don’t have any pain from the prior workout.

5.  Keep your technique together

This is another no brainer but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen terrible technique performed in competition.  You’re going to be tired but that’s no reason to let things fall apart.  Remember that technique is important for injury prevention as well as efficiency.  Take your time and make things look pretty.

6. Take it easy during the rest of the week

Keep in mind that you’re generally pushing to your limits in competition.  Chances are that you’re going to be going harder then you usually do during training.  When I finished 14.2 I was so tired I shut my hand in the car door after the workout.  After 14.1 I caught a cold.  Your brain and body is taking a beating.  It’s important not to go crazy with your training throughout the rest of the week.

Also remember just how challenging the open workouts can be for most people.  For normal people hearing the word “Karen” when they enter a crossfit gym makes them shudder.  Keep in mind that crossfit has decided to throw workouts together that includes an exhausting 150 wall balls followed up by one of the most technical gymnastics movements in crossfit (muscle-ups).  These are hard workouts.  You’ve got to recover accordingly.

Remember, if you’re serious about your open scores then you’ve done all of the work over the past year of training.  Now is not the time to try and make improvements over the course of the week.  It’s the time to show your fitness.  You should be recovered between workouts.  To see how I program throughout the open you can check out my programming HERE.

sleeping7. Get enough sleep

Research has shown that getting enough sleep not only increases performance but decreases risk of injury as well.  This is a great excuse to start getting 7-9 hours of high quality sleep at night

Go get em Tiger,

Dan Pope DPT, CSCS

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