Hello all! While most of you probably know me as Coach Lauren, I am also a Doctor of Physical Therapy. I graduated from Quinnipiac University in 2014, around the same time that I found CrossFit. Over the past 4 years or so, I have attempted to relate my passion for CrossFit, health and fitness into my work as a physical therapist, as well as educate friends and family on the importance of being healthy and fit in order to prevent injury and disease. Without going into too much detail (I will do that in later posts) and imposing confusing medical jargon, I want to educate those in the community about how CrossFit can help maintain and improve overall health and wellness.
Let’s first discuss the “Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum”. Sickness, wellness and fitness are all measures of overall health. Some examples of items that can be measured on this continuum are blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body fat, bone density, muscle mass and flexibility. There has been research done to prove that the CrossFit prescription can move these markers from “sick” to “well” and ultimately "fit".
As a physical therapist, most patients I work with have some sort of pain or discomfort, or are rehabilitating from an injury. Some examples include patients who have had total knee replacements, have low back pain, or geriatric patients with poor balance. Is their pain a result of a traumatic injury or surgery? Is it due to the demonstration of poor movement patterns in everyday life? Do they have low back pain from sitting 8 hours a day at their job? Their pain may even be due to a sedentary lifestyle that has caused decreased flexibility, muscle stiffness, increased body weight and joint inflammation. These are just a few of the many examples of someone who can benefit from CrossFit. CrossFit is not only what is seen during the CrossFit games. CrossFit can be anything! It is based on functional movement, (picking up something off the floor, lifting an item overhead, even getting up from a chair). These are all daily tasks that are taught and executed during CrossFit classes. I could take any single one of my patients and give them a home exercise program
consisting of functional movements, similar to what is performed in a CrossFit class. The difference lies in the degree of intensity. Let’s take for example, a 70 year old female with high blood pressure and diabetes who is overweight and just had a total knee replacement. She has decreased range of motion, strength, flexibility, endurance and excess body fat. We can modify the CrossFit prescription to fit her needs for rehabilitation. We would focus on daily tasks such as lifting her granddaughter off the floor, putting dishes away into high cabinets, and improving her endurance so she can walk in the grocery store without fatigue. We can scale and tailor workouts to her level while still focusing on her functional goals.
The last topic I want to briefly discuss is injury in CrossFit. On a daily basis, I am asked by clients “You do CrossFit and you are a physical therapist? Isn’t that dangerous?” In short, any sport or physical activity can potentially be dangerous. If you are not properly executing the movements, there is definitely the risk for injury. If you are part of a box with reputable coaches, you will be taught appropriate modifications for movements and ways to scale the workouts to fit your individual ability level. In the off chance that you are injured at the gym, seeking out a physical therapist who can understand the type of exercise you do and help with rehabilitation is a great option.
My focus of this blog going forward is to educate everyone on the effectiveness of the CrossFit program, as well as explain how CrossFit can be beneficial to anyone, at any skill level, fitness level, or age. I will also be writing on different topics to use my expertise as a PT and relating it to CrossFit.
Next Week's Blog: Shoulder Prehab!