TO ALL CROSSFIT ATHLETES & RUNNERS: DOING THIS WILL BE A GAME CHANGER FOR YOU
by onsite, September 14, 2016
“I stretch good before and after each workout, but I still have mild pain and get really sore after training.”
“I just can’t do a front squat correctly no matter how hard I try, or what the coaches are telling me.”
“I wish I could improve my performance more quickly, other people seem to be making gains much faster than me.”
These are common feelings or thoughts that go through CrossFit athletes or runners minds all the time. An athlete comes to me frustrated because they have been trying hard to maintain good mobility, or done some type of “cross-training” to stay injury free. They’ve tried everything to get relief from their pain or performance limitations. These are the athletes that are watching youtube videos that “promise a fix,” ordering some piece of equipment on a commercial, or changing the type of shoes they are wearing every three months. The problem is, athletes in this situation haven’t identified exactly what needs to be stretched, mobilized, or strengthened. They need to know what is CAUSING their problems before they can fix it….and there is only one way to find out this valuable information. It can be somewhat complicated to identify the exact tissues responsible for someone’s movement limitations and pain, you’re going to need a professional. After working with thousands of athletes, one thing that is imperative for all athletes to do, more important than any exercise or training tip…..they must receive a FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT ASSESSMENT.
A FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT ASSESSMENT is a group of tests or screens that provides information on how well a person is moving. The assessment will look at joints throughout the entire body, in dynamic ways, to highlight limitations in a person’s movement capacity. This grouping of tests will give the movement specialist information on the EXACT tissues, joints, or structures that are not functioning normally. By having this information, we can truly understand why a person is having pain or struggling to improve performance. The Functional Movement Assessment helps us identify if a person has a stiff joint, weak musculature, or soft tissue extensibility limitations contributing to their dysfunction. If we don’t know specifically what is causing the limitation, we HAVE NO IDEA how it needs to be treated. The fact is that we need to treat different tissues in a specific manner to get the best, quickest results.
Here is a really common example of something I see all the time to illustrate my point. A patient comes to me with a diagnosis of a hip flexor or hamstrings strain. They comment about how they’ve always had tight hamstrings or hip flexors. They’ve spent months stretching and foam rolling these tissues. However, when we test these muscles, they are not tight or shortened…they actually move plenty to perform any functional activity.
Here’s what is really happening. The patient feels like these muscles are stiff, and has discomfort in these areas because they are overusing them as core stabilizers. The patient has a core/lumbopelvic stability limitation, and is using a common compensation strategy by overusing the hamstrings or hip flexor. As a result, they get an injury to these tissues…even though these tissues aren’t the TRUE CAUSE of the problem. This patient can continue to spend hours stretching or foam rolling these muscles and getting absolutely nowhere…and potentially doing more harm than good. After one simple 15-20 minute functional movement assessment we can identify the core/lumbopelvic stabilization deficits and begin to build a program to improve these issues. As the core musculature develops and the pelvic position is maintained, the athlete will not overuse their hamstrings and hip flexor resulting in less strain or feeling of tightness during activity.
The Functional Movement Assessment is CRITICAL to perform on anyone suffering nagging pain or chronic injury. It’s also extremely important for an individual looking to change their exercise activity. Perhaps an individual that is looking to start CrossFit or training for a marathon. The Functional Movement Assessment will tell these athletes areas they need to address to decrease risk of injury and perform better. Even for those not currently in pain, athletes will not reach their full potential…NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY TRAIN…unless they have good/normal functional movement.
The Functional Movement Assessment is like taking a blood test or having a physical from a doctor to figure out why we are sick. The results we find in the blood test give the doctor information on what medications to prescribe, or interventions to perform for fixing the problem. In the same sense, the Functional Movement Assessment lets the movement specialist build a customized program of exercise or stretches for an individual to perform based on their specific deficits and limitations. Some people’s squat is limited by ankle mobility. Ok this isn’t super hard to figure out. But we need to take things even further…is it a joint or soft tissue limitation? Is it the soleus or gastrocnemius muscle that is limited? Does the patient have anterior joint impingement that is limiting ankle mobility? If we don’t answer these questions, then we have NO IDEA how to properly fix the ankle mobility problem and allow the athlete to squat normal. Each of these “Ankle Mobility Problems” needs to be treated in a different way to get the best results.
STUDIES SHOW THAT OVER 80% OF INJURIES CAN BE AVOIDED. However, most people don’t get a Functional Movement Assessment so they aren’t aware of potential tissues in their body at risk for injury. Most of the time IT’S NOT RANDOM when someone is injured. Don’t kick yourself down the road when you are injured not being able to compete or perform activities you love. Take a preventative approach and starting spending time fixing your specific movement deficits and potential injury causing tissues.
Photo Credit: https://s31.postimg.io/vhs6iadgb/side_view_squat.jpg