One of the most researched areas in physiotherapy is the effects of exercise on our bodies. It is one of the few proven ways of reducing pain and preventing injuries. Besides the commonly-known benefits here’s a few reasons why I, as a (soon to be) physiotherapist, recommend CrossFit:
What’s a good way to prevent yourself from getting hurt? Well, first and foremost we need to learn how to move properly so we don’t put our bodies in poor positions when doing tasks such as lifting. Where can you learn this? CrossFit! (more on this shortly). Another way to prevent yourself from getting hurt? Improve your overall fitness and strength so your body is better prepared to protect itself when a potential injury situation arises.
If we look at it from a different perspective where we’re already injured, how can CrossFit help this person? From a physio perspective we can usually identify causes of injury, whether it’s a weakness or stiffness somewhere or an overall poor movement pattern. By training CrossFit, you get a full body training program to help eliminate weaknesses that could potentially lead to injuries. Additionally, one of the best ways to reduce pain is by exercising! The body releases certain chemicals in our body while exercising that help reduce pain that’ll leave you feeling better post WOD.
As previously mentioned, CrossFit teaches us how to move our bodies. Since CrossFit is defined as a functional fitness program, things you learn in the gym will resemble what you do on a day to day basis. Learning how to do these movements properly and be stronger in these positions will help you move better and prevent injuries. By going through programs such as the Sweat Intro program and receiving regular feedback from coaches in class, you will learn skills that will translate into your day to day life. Things such as picking your child up, putting groceries away or getting up from your office chair are nearly identical to movements in the gym like the deadlift, shoulder press and squat. Through my clinical experiences, the number of patients that have come in with knee pain and after assessment you see they have poor squat form is unsurprising. Then you think about the amount of times they go from a sitting to standing position (squat) in a day with this poor technique, it’s no wonder they have pain. This could have all been avoided if they simply knew how to squat properly.
|Good For Everybody|
Outside of the commonly known benefits of exercise, here’s how CrossFit can help in two commonly known conditions:
When your bone density goes down you become predisposed to osteoporosis which essentially is when your bones become fragile. One way of preventing this is by doing weightbearing exercises. By putting load through your bones, you make them stronger and prevent this decline. Exercises such as weightlifting and box jumps are a great way to keep your bones from becoming fragile.
What about if you already have been diagnosed with osteoporsis? The only difference is we need to be more careful to prevent injuries, but we still want weightbearing activities to strengthen the bones and prevent the decline in bone density. With proper coaching, CrossFit will do an excellent job in helping this individual.
As a part of the aging process wear and tear of the joints (aka osteoarthritis) or commonly referred to as arthritis can occur. Usually, people will describe feeling stiff and pain in or around their joints. I’m not going to say that CrossFit will reverse these degenerative changes but what it will do is strengthen your muscles around the sore joints and provide them with support. This extra support will take pressure off the sore joint and reduce pain. Additionally, by incorporating CrossFit into your lifestyle you’re taking one of the necessary steps into reducing your chances of having arthritis.
|Improves All Areas of Fitness|
By constantly varying the activities we do in the gym, CrossFit targets all 10 components of fitness. The tendency of training at your local gym or at home is you target only one area of fitness. Whether you’ll regularly lift weights to get stronger or run outside every day. These are great activities however, you are only training one aspect and missing the other 9. By training all components, you will be more prepared for your specific sport or for whatever life throws at you.
For these above reasons, I recommend CrossFit to anybody. It’s a great way to move your body the way it is designed to move. Remember to always learn the basics and take pride in your technique!
Jason Freeman is a CrossFit L1 and Physiotherapist at ANCHOR in Keswick, ON.He has a kinesiology and physiotherapy background with a strong understanding of human anatomy and biomechanics.
He applies his knowledge in practice through a combination of manual therapy, exercise and education through evidence based means.