CrossFit with injuries, don’t give up!

I began at CrossFit Salem in Dec 2010. My prior athletic endeavors included 25+ years of distance runnning, spin classes and a couple years of Pilates. Like others I made great strides and really enjoyed the intense competitive nature of the WODS.  In early 2012 I began having shoulder discomfort which led to an MRI reveling bilateral labrum and bicep tendon tears.  In April 2013 I underwent reconstructive surgery on my right shoulder followed in 2014 by repairing the left.


Needless to say my CrossFit journey has been a series of stops and starts.  My injuries were not due to CF.  In fact, my surgeon told me if you are going to blame anything, blame your parents!  ( ie: I was born this way.)  He described my joints as hyper mobile with no end to their mobility  limitations.  Throw  in an active lifestyle, lifting and gymnastics and i was a set-up for “wear and tear”. Had I been the type to sit on the couch  eating Cheetos I would have never found myself in the OR twice in one year.  I would have never found the joy and confidence that comes from accomplishment either, not to mention the many wonderful people I have met thru crossfit.

The type of surgery i had takes at minimum one year to recover from.  Because the tendons lack good blood supply they are very slow to heal and any movement of the joint needs to be progressed at a turtles pace.  Eight weeks immobilized in a sling and then a long slow climb.  Three months before I am cleared to curl a 3 pound dumbbell.  Easy to get discouraged when I was accustomed to barbell, squats, pull ups, running and jumping.

Post op week one I was tethered 24/7 to an ICE machine and had an IV catheter in my neck delivering continuous anesthetic and pain meds.  I decided my focus would be nutrition.  I planned and practiced clean healthy eating as I knew that was the one thing I could control.  Nutrition was my WOD the first 7 days and I crushed it!

By week two I was back coaching.  Being in the box, with others kept me in the right frame of mind.  I am thankful to Andy and Josh for allowing me to continue to coach despite my limitations.  And of course grateful for the support and understanding of all the members who participated in my classes during this time.

For the first 4 weeks I was limited to walking.  I upped the intensity by getting on the treadmill and pumping up the incline to the max.  I found 45 min. of daily incline walking was perfect.  I soon began programming WODs with incline walking and a variation of right arm dumb bell curls, presses, rows, lateral and front raises.  My left arm remained safely in a sling.  Within a couple weeks i was working in box squats and goblet squats.  Since i was was limited in the amount of weight I could hold in one hand i decided to work the negatives with a super slow descent in the squat thus get more bang for the buck so to speak.

By 7 weeks I was given the ok to run.  However, I quickly  discovered the swinging of the arm hurt too much.  Not to be discouraged I compensated with short bursts of runnning with incline walk recoveries.  Perfect.  At this point I also added box step ups and right arm thrusters and suit case style one arm dead lifts.

Thru both recoveries i have participated  in general classes as often as possible designing modified WODs while maintaining similar rep schemes.  Staying active and staying CONNECTED  is what has helped me the most.  Working out alongside someone who is power cleaning a loaded barbell makes me feel as though i too am working despite that fact that i may be wielding a 25# kettlebell.  The energy is intoxicating and feeds the fire, releases the stress, just the same.

It is important to not get discouraged with injuries.  They are going to come up with an active lifestyle.  There is never a reason to quit.  Fitness is a journey.

Andy gave a great analogy one day saying if your car gets a flat you don’t stop driving it.  You put on a spare and keep going.  So it is with injuries.  We all have limitations, it doesn’t mean we need to stop doing what we love.  There are many many ways to work the body and gain and maintain fitness.  I am forever grateful for what i have learned thru cf and thru my own personal journey.  No regrets!


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