INJURY CLINIC WITH ASH AND FRANCO | WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON FACTOR STOPPING CROSSFITTERS PERFORMING BETTER?

There are many elements of training that we are unable to perform right now. From throwing a barbell around, to kipping on the rig, it's therefore easy to feel that we may be loosing our hard-earned progress.  However priming our bodies for optimal performance when the time does come to getting back under a barbell, is absolutely something we are in control of. To help you on this mission we are bringing in the experts - Ashley Grossmann and Franco Contiero.

Read on to hear Ash and Franco's advice on the most common injuries and limitations preventing CrossFitters from progressing...

Dual Qualified Physiotherapist and Osteopath and avid CrossFitter Franco Contiero runs two busy clinics in central London. During his 12 years in clinical practice, he has worked in different settings, from the public health system to private physiotherapy and sporting events. He got involved in CrossFit first personally and then professionally as a sports clinician, treating both casual CrossFitters and pro-athletes.

He completed an intensive training program in advanced biomechanics developed through the Gray Institute (USA) and has earned the distinction of Fellow of Applied Functional Science. This specialisation allows him to design rehab programs integrating functional movements to help clients overcome injury and achieve enhanced function according to their unique goals.

Ash studied Biology and Biomechanics at Oxford University, before leaving his corporate career to pursue his passion in fitness. He's since done several qualifications as a movement specialist in functional therapy and functional performance, including a mentorship with RedPill Coaching, one of the most highly regarded names in the sport of CrossFit. Ash now works with RedPill, coaching CrossFit Games athletes through to box beginners.

What is the most common factor stopping CrossFitters from performing better?

Dedicated time working on weaknesses.  It’s obvious, but it is the main thing holding back performance in the sport of CrossFit, for EVERYONE. As we know, CrossFit is a sport rewarding GPP - General Physical Preparedness, the 'Jack of All Trades' does well, and the specialist gets punished.  

As humans, we naturally like doing what we’re good at, we generally find it more fun to be successful, do impressive things and win workouts that play to our strengths.  However, that’s doing things we’re already good at, and the return on that time invested for your CrossFit performance is not as great as the same time or effort spent on something you suck at, which costs you loads of places on the leaderboard.  

If you want to perform better, your training focus should be on the areas with the best ROI (return on investment) for scoring, not enjoyment.  The degree to which it does that will depend on how much you care about improving your performance vs having fun, which is a totally personal decision and there is no right or wrong answer, unless you want to win the Games. 

Reflect on how competitive you want to be, and then look at your training to see if it aligns with your performance. If not, make some changes. 

 

"Core control" and "midline stability" have become buzz words in CrossFit. What do they mean and where do they fit in a training program?

Core control and midline stability are most often used in reference to bracing through the trunk, to prevent excessive motion.  In CrossFit there is a lot of lifting where we want the midsection to be still/in a relatively fixed position to reduce wobbles that would require extra energy to stabilise and control.  For example, when overhead lunging, if your midsection is loose and allows a lot of motion, then keeping the weight balanced overhead is going to take a lot more energy than if it’s rigid and the weight stays over your centre of mass.  

One of the great things about CrossFit is that the movements are functional, full body compound movements, which nearly always include an element of core control, so you’re already training your core more than if you were doing bodybuilding on the machine weights.  

Depending on your goals, it might be prudent to add in some extra core training if you struggle with particular movements. For example; gymnastics kipping. Always try to keep your additional core work as close to the skill you’re working on. For example; hanging leg raises would transfer to kipping better than a plank.  

In terms of fitting it in, there’s no real wrong answer, besides just before really heavy lifting, which you don’t want to do with a fatigued core. After class, at home, in Open gym are all great times to get it in, practice makes perfect!

What are the most common injuries (or single most common) that CrossFitters present with in clinic?  Why are they so prevalent?

The nature of CrossFit makes this question quite hard to answer! There are so many different types of fitness tested by a CrossFit workout, and it requires control and strength in varied ranges of movement. The good thing about this is that CrossFit is less repetitive than other sports, and this repetition often leads to common strains and injuries, like 'Runner's knee' or 'tennis elbow'.

Wouldn't it be great if this meant that CrossFitters didn't get injured as often as other athletes? Unfortunately, that's not the case. While there isn't a single body part that is commonly injured in CrossFit, we do see a lot of tendon issues in both casual CrossFitters and pro-athletes. A tendon is a structure that connects muscle to bone and assists muscle contraction, allowing your joints to move. Tendons can become over-stressed when required to work hard in a range that they haven't been adequately prepared for. For example, if you find your knee hurts at the front after performing pistols repetitively in workouts, this could be because you haven't adequately prepared the patellar (knee cap) tendon with single-leg accessory exercises beforehand.

When tendon problems occur, aside from making sure the tendon itself is healthy and healing properly, one of the most important parts of treatment is assessing an athlete's current training programme. We want to make sure that accessory work isn't only focusing on general strength and mobility but is preparing the body for that athlete's specific performance needs.

Is there an easy way to distinguish between good pain and bad pain?

Unfortunately, the short answer is no. If we're talking about the type of pain a healthy athlete might experience during a hard session, specifically muscular stress and fatigue, then context and judgment are the best indicators of the nature of that pain. Knowing and respecting your capabilities, for example: how much cardiovascular and resistance training demand your body can cope with, is the best way to make an informed decision about whether you should stop or keep pushing through.

When pain is associated an injury or illness, things get a bit more complicated. We know from scientific research that pain is a perception rather than a sensation. This means that pain is not only the result of a physical structure being damaged; instead, it's a complex puzzle pieced together by the nervous system, using information from the body's sensations, memories and expectations. This process is such a fast, automated reaction that we are only aware of the final product: pain.

Assessing which factors are influencing pain is essential for the effective management and treatment of sports injuries. It is also important to remember that pain isn't only a symptom. If pain persists for a long period of time, it can become the problem itself. We call this process sensitisation, and this is associated with a lower threshold for pain. This is why it's always better to take charge of your recovery sooner rather than later - it's a lot easier to prevent further injury than it is to undo months of damage!

To hear more from the boys and ask questions specific to YOU, tune in at 9am Saturday 2nd BST May on @WIT.House.LDN Instagram as Ash and Franco host a guest Instagram Live ‘Injury and Mobility Clinic’.