Your Doctor’s Approach to CrossFit Injuries
I can’t tell you the amount of times we’ve had patients come into our office saying “After my injury, my doctor told me to stop CrossFit.”
My usual response to this is “How do you feel about that?”…I’m sure you can guess their answer at this point.
I’m a physician who treats a lot of CrossFit athletes who either injured themselves or are wanting to prevent injury. Many of them have seen other doctors already and have been given conflicting advice. They have also gone through a number of treatments, at times with little to no benefit.
Given the physical demand of the sport, injuries can be expected. However, it doesn’t mean CrossFit should be forbidden. CrossFit injuries can be successfully treated when given the proper tools and medical approach.
Here are a few things I hear from patients in my office. The responses are my opinions and should not be mistaken for medical advice.
“You might need surgery.”
I’ve had a good number of individuals who have come into my office expressing concern over this statement. In a good percentage of cases, they have been able to avoid surgery after following conservative treatment.
The biggest issue is that both patients and surgeons don’t always know what types of conservative treatments are available to them. If they are aware, they often don’t know which therapy would be best for their condition.
Ideally you want a doctor who is conservative in their treatment style and is also up-to-date on what conservative treatments are available to the patient.
“Don’t do CrossFit.”
This is often used as a blanket statement. Given that CrossFit involves many different types of movements, it’s almost impossible for even an injured athlete to not find one that they can do.
It comes down to having great coaches that know the athletes limits and can scale appropriately when necessary. By telling someone not to do CrossFit, doctors are preventing patients from learning how to properly move under the supervision of a well-trained coach.
“You shouldn’t lift anything greater than 25 pounds.”
The patients who are being told this usually have some sort of low back or shoulder issue. The problem with this statement is that it really depends on what is causing the pain they are experiencing.
I had one patient who was told this statement and her imaging was completely normal. So to make such a blanket statement is usually ridiculous. Lifting more than 25 pounds may not be an everyday activity for most people, but our bodies can certainly take the load if done properly and in short duration.
“You need a cortisone shot.”
Cortisone (aka steroid injections) have been a go-to treatment option for many doctors. Does it relieve pain? Yes. For a long period of time? Sometimes. But at what cost?
The issue with this therapy is that it is often a first line treatment when it should in reality be a last resort given the long term side effects. Cortisone weakens tendons overtime and increases the risk of arthritis when used in certain areas.
So what does that mean to you? Well your goal is usually to get out of pain. Although this therapy accomplishes that in the short term, in the long term you may be doing more harm to yourself.
Cortisone injections should be used after ALL other conservative therapies have been utilized. The therapy can be great for certain situations but oftentimes it is overused.
“You should never lift weights after surgery again.”
The goal of a sports medicine physician should always be to get the athlete returning to the activity they love to do. Given proper rehab, most athletes should be able to return to their activity without any major issue.
- Given the physical demand of CrossFit, injuries can be expected. However, it doesn’t mean the patient shouldn’t do CrossFit.
- A conservative doctor is best when considering treatment options for CrossFit injuries.
- You want a doctor that is willing to balance getting you better without compromising your particular lifestyle.