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Old 10-11-2011, 09:43 AM   #1
Peyton Bush
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Newcomer needing advice for pre-existing injuries

Hi all,

Hopefully I'm posting this in the right place. I was hoping to get some advice from the experts here on dealing with a few injuries I had prior to starting crossfit. I apologize for the long post, but would appreciate any advice anyone would have. So far I have done a month of two fundamentals classes a week and 2.5 weeks of WODs (3 per week). I am completely obsessed, and aside from the injury issues, am already feel fitter and stronger. I am trying to avoid stopping and losing my momentum. After years of searching for the perfect fitness regimen, I finally feel like I've found it (hopefully not too late).

By way of background, I am 36 years old, 6' 21ish with a quasi-athletic background (Marine Corps, a few triathlons, weightlifting, etc.). I used to be in decent shape, then went through a period of minimum fitness/maximum career that left me at my heaviest and least fit. I managed to pull off a marathon during that dark period, but it wasn't pretty. I think Oprah did the same race faster than me (no offense, O fans). Here are my injury issues:

- Herniated disc (L4-L5): Most recently (2 yrs. ago) I had managed to drop 25 lbs. from 225 to 200 doing boxing, plyometrics and weightlifting until I injured my back doing deadlifts (butt down, rounded back, too much weight, no stretching...let simmer,and voila). Originally strained a muscle, but tried to plow through it and ended up with the herniated disc and pretty bad sciatica, mostly down the left leg. It was easily the worst thing I've been through, although I know a lot out there have been through much worse with this injury. After two steroid injections, four months off, and three months of just pilates two days a week, I was able to get rid of the bad nerve pain. Now I just get the occasional shock (I call them "zaps") down my leg or in my calf when my spine gets out of position. I started noticing the zaps coming back when I finished the fundamentals class and started regular WODs, so in the last week I have become very disciplined about my stretching. I use the roller pre-WOD, and static stretching afterward and before bed. I have noticed that this has almost eliminated the zaps, despite doing several WODs involving deadlifts, squats, etc. (very low weight and plan to increase very gradually). I am, however, having issues with what feels like tightness in my left buttcheek and IT band. My left hamstring is already tight and the focus of much of my stretching. I can address the IT band, but have no idea how to address the buttcheek (or what it is).

- AC joint issue: according to my ortho, my bones appear to be rubbing together and inflamed/bruised at the AC joint (the clavicle is the one that's inflamed). He told me that it would hurt, but that I wasn't doing permanent damage by trying to power through, so that's what I've been doing. I've had one cortisone shot, and am going for another on Thursday. Nonetheless, this issue seems to be getting worse with the WODs and I think is significantly hindering my ability to perform different moves (and it is making me scale more than I probably would have to normally). I am kind of at a loss for how to deal with this one, other than to have the surgery where they shave down some of the bone. I really don't want to do this, nor do I want to stop crossfitting. I'm looking for an in between.

Does anyone have any advice on how to best deal with these issues? I am encouraged by the effect that stretching has on my sciatic nerve pain, but I know the disc is still popped out there, so I need to be really careful with it. The shoulder, although apparently less significant of an issue, is starting to get pretty painful. I have been reading mobilityWOD and all things KStarr obsessively to determime the best things I can do to increase overall mobility/flexibility, but any other advice would be very helpful.

Sorry again for the long post.
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Old 10-11-2011, 10:10 AM   #2
Brian Strump
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Re: Newcomer needing advice for pre-existing injuries

I would consider looking for a chiro or PT to help with some of the rehab as well. Especially since these are chronic issues. There's a good chance you are working in the wrong areas, which is why you have not gotten long term relief. If you are going to an affiliate, this is something I would definitely recommend. Reason being, most affiliates I have been to and talked to may be concerned with your well-being and injuries, however DO NOT know how to treat, or what exercises can/should be done for rehab, and what shouldn't be done to increase likelihood of more significant injuries.
Nothing against trainers trying to help their members, however, a weekend seminar, and a few hours on MobWOD may very well make some people more dangerous since they think that since it worked for this shoulder, or back problem; it'll work for all of them.
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Old 10-11-2011, 11:25 AM   #3
Peyton Bush
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Re: Newcomer needing advice for pre-existing injuries

Thanks for the feedback, Brian. The pilates instructor I see is actually a PT by day (a very good one), and the work we have done is much closer to PT than pilates. She has been instrumental in helping me alleviate the nerve pain. As I mentioned, I still get zapped when I get out of a neutral spine position (or after sitting down for extended periods), but the zaps are fewer and further between since starting crossfit and becoming more disciplined about my stretching. I don't feel like this is a coincidence.

My current approach with all this is to keep doing WODs, but maintain intense focus on form and VERY SLOWLY stepping up the weight on lifts. The fear of the debilitating nerve pain definitely outweighs my pride right now. The coaches at my affiliate are very helpful in helping me perfect my form and watching me closely during WODs.

I'm figuring that the best way out of this is to continue building strength, especially in my core, and flexibility in order to increase the protection and support of my disc. Does that make sense?

Regarding my shoulder, I have only recently started working on shoulder mobility with my PT, so hopefully we will make some progress. I was just hoping for some perspective on the approach I should take with it and possibly a few good ideas for improving flexibility/mobility there.
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Old 10-11-2011, 11:23 PM   #4
Rebekah Bromwell
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Re: Newcomer needing advice for pre-existing injuries

Hi Peyton. I'm new to crossfit as well, but not sciatic pain, unfortunately. I had a pretty bad flare up after my first couple of wods, but I have since started seeing a particularly helpful chiropractor and I am SUPER DUPER careful not to do stuff that aggravates it during wods. I can tell that as my abs get stronger (starting from essentially zero) my back is feeling better, but I can't overdo the abdominal stuff either b/c of previous injury/weakness stuff. So, I try to get in some extra abmat situps whenever I can, and sub those and my girly pushups for more difficult stuff that would be too much strain. (for now) It may take a long time but I'm trusting that if I work up to it slowly I will be able to do the things I want to. (real handstand push ups, pull ups, etc...)

Stretching helps tons, particularly (it seems odd to me) manually stretching the tendon (?) in the inner thigh. Hurts like hell but whenever my old PT or another chiro I had been seeing would do that there was immediate improvement. They just kind of jammed a thumb in and pushed. I don't do that now but I stretch pretty hard just using my body weight and leaning/stretching my legs.

I've also found that quicker/jerkier higher impact movements are a problem, so even though I am capable of doing box jumps (not very high though) it will hurt me later. I do the step up, step down thing instead and still feel like I'm working pretty hard, just not slamming my hip/spine around as much.

One last thing, I actually feel better the day after doing lifting. I think I feel pretty free to opt out or otherwise scale stuff because I'm a middle aged semi injured woman, but it may be harder for dudes. I just use a light enough weight that it actually feels good. If you are as familiar with "bad" muscle pain and nerve pain as I am it won't take long to get a good grasp on what the beginnings of it are in a WOD and stay with the "good" pain of working hard but strengthening vs. damaging stuff.

I look forward to reading more from you! It helps me to know there are other people who are not in peak condition but are getting there as well.
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