From the Blog



Dr. Hawley’s Health Corner – Weight Belts – Should I wear one?

I thought this would be a good week to touch on the topic of weight belts seeing as how many of us just performed 14.3.  

I get asked a lot about weight belts and their place in the weight room so I thought it would be good to revisit a previous post about their usage.

Should I wear a when belt and if I should when should I be wearing one?  This is a question that you are bound to ask yourself sooner or later.  Unfortunately the answer is not black and white.

The purpose of a weight belt is to provide an external force that can help to stabilize a persons lower back while performing a heavy lift.  Usually these belts are worn while a person is performing either a heavy deadlift, squat or overhead press.  While being worn during a deadlift and a squat the weight belts function is to create increased intra-abdominal force to protect your lower back and spine from injury.  When used during a heavy overhead lift the purpose of the weight belt is to prevent hyperextension of your lower back (leaning too far back).  

It seems that, after reading the above paragraph, everyone should be wearing a weight belt to prevent against lower back injuries.  There are, however, a few cons in regards to wearing a weight belt.  Weight belts, as seen at the local YMCA or other unnamed gyms, are being worn during a persons entire workout no matter what weight or exercise they are performing.  The problem with wearing a weight belt when it is not needed is the lower back and abdominal muscles are not being used during those exercises anymore and they begin to get weaker and no longer function properly.  The whole idea of the weight belt is that it gives the lower back and abdominal muscles a break when performing heavy lifts so if you wear this belt all the time you are never giving your lower back a chance to get stronger.  

There are many people doctors and scientists that feel weight belts should never be used (or at least rarely used) because you should never lift more than your lower back can handle.   This train of thought has recently been pushed aside to a certain degree.  It is now widely supported that weight belt use has a place in the gym but only if when a person is lifting really heavy weight (90% or greater of your 1RM).  When lifting this type of weight it is very possible that your smaller lower back muscles will not be able to support the weight that your legs will be able to lift.  There is one caveat to that last statement, people who take the time to really focus on their lower back and abdominal muscle strength tend to have the ability to lift these heavier loads without a problem.

Owning a weight belt is probably a good idea for anyone who is planning on lifting heavier weights.  What you really have to watch out for is the over utilization of the weight belt as this can cause weakness in both your abdominal muscles and your lower back muscles.   Do not use a weight belt when you are lifting moderately heavy weights as this is a great way to build up your lower back, abdominal and core strength: just be sure to focus on proper form and don’t compromise! 



I wish this picture was clearer, Here is Jess & Baby Grace, Grace is getting a free ride! 

Dr. Hawley’s Health Corner

More Snatches = focus on your shoulder range of motion

This week we are going to take another look at our shoulder range of motion and most importantly the missing internal rotation that almost everyone has. As I mentioned several times before proper internal rotation is needed for anything from snatches to your pull-ups and your squat thrusters. Without this you are setting yourself up for bad form and anterior shoulder pain and injury.
First we need to do a quick test so that you can see where you are with your range of motion and what you need to focus on. Take your right hand and put it behind your back with the back of your hand on your back. Make a note of how far up your back you can reach and then repeat with the other hand. I bet you have one hand/arm that feels better than the other and allows you to reach up much higher. Focus on the other arm to start (as always you should be working on both shoulders equally).
A simple fix should restore much of this lost range of motion. First focus on the muscle tissue around your shoulder blade and then focus on the anterior muscles of your shoulder. 

1). Lie on your back with your arm behind your back. Place the lacrosse ball next to your shoulder blade (not on it) and work the muscles all around the side and the bottom. 

2). To work on the front of your shoulder stand up and face a wall. Place the lacrosse on the front of your shoulder and then press up against the wall. From here try to smash your anterior shoulder muscles left and right trying to loosen them up.

After performing both of these exercises re-test your arm to see if you have increased range of motion.

These are just two more ways that you can try to restore your shoulder range of motion.



Coach Justin and Jess are getting married this weekend – Congratulation!

Foam Roll – Dr. Hawley’s Health Corner

Yes!  You should foam roll??I am hopeful that this blog is a friendly reminder for most people but for those new to CrossFit the idea of foam rolling could be a new one. ??Foam rolling is quite possibly one of the best ideas to help prevent injuries and also treat minor injuries. The idea behind foam rolling is that it allows you to break up adhesions that have formed in your muscles. Adhesions are created whenever a trauma occurs to a muscle. This trauma could be anything from a car accident to a collision in sports or, more relevant to us, lifting weights and working out. ??When these adhesions form they prevent the muscle from working properly. The muscle gets stiff, tight and eventually weakened to the point where injury can result. I am sure that everyone has felt this sensation following a big leg workout when you wake up the next morning. Remember when you got out of bed and you thought your legs might just snap in half because they were so tight?  That is because they are swollen and full of adhesions. This is the optimum time to foam roll. ??Foam rolling while you are sore and stiff causes the swelling and inflammation to leave the area while breaking up the adhesions. Both of these are needed to help the muscle recover from the previous workout. ??Although foam rolling is a great tool to help those sore muscles it is also a great way to prevent injuries. Simply choose a part of the body and spend some time foam rolling before each workout and your off days. All you do is lay in the foam roller over any given part of the body until you find a sore spot – from here stay on that spot for 30 seconds and repeat for all others. This promotes a healthy muscle and helps prevent injuries.


photo 1-3
Jamie working hard after his Achilles Surgery

Dr. Hawley’s Health Corner – Kipping HSPUS

It’s OPEN WEEK!!  I hope all of you have signed up and are ready to have some fun. If this is your first rounds of opens get ready for some interesting workouts and some great times at the box.

One of the best things about Facebook is that we now have the ability to see and share information with people and organizations that we would not have been able to otherwise. There is a chiropractor who writes a blog called “The Movement Fix”. I can’t remember where he is located but if you search Facebook you will find the blog I’m referring to.

This past week he had a great post about Kipping HSPUS and why people shouldn’t do them. After reading the title I had to read the blog to see his thoughts on the topic because I want sure I agreed. However, his points were valid and I’ll summarize below.

Let’s quick take a look at our spine and how it is designed. Your spine is made up of 7 spinal bones and between each bone are little holes where spinal nerves come out. These nerves control everything in the upper body but when compressed cause all kinds of pain. If you babe ever had a pinched nerve you know what I am talking about. Anything that causes these holes to decrease in size is an issue – this includes standing on your head and repeatedly dropping on your head from the up position of a HSPUS which is what most people do when performing HSPUS (Kipping variety).

I couldn’t agree more. If you are one of those people who perform Kipping HSPUS and at the top of each rep you allow your body to come crashing down you are simply asking for an injury and possibly a pinched nerve.

A better idea would be to focus on your strict HSPUS and build the strength required to perform these motions correctly. If this means you need to put more ab mats down at first so be it – don’t get too caught up with the infamous “RX” next to your name on the whiteboard!!!  If you click the link below you will see a variety of ways to improve your strength to help with your HSPUS.

Now before you think I’m saying you should never do Kipping HSPUS – keep in mind that all I’m saying is that you should not be performing these if you do not have the strength to lower yourself down safely.

Always be sure that you are not putting your times on the whiteboard or the weight on the whiteboard before your health. Take your time and build up the necessary strength and technique to perform these movements correctly before increases weight or adding more complex movements.




Coach James, My heads freezing but my biceps are on fire!!!! 

Dr. Hawley’s Health Corner – Should I / Can I CrossFit?

First and foremost I just want to say congratulations to those members who competed this past weekend at Bacon Fest – you guys/girls did AWESOME!!  Over this past week I was asked a question a few times that I have not really been asked in a long time so I thought I would re-post an old blog in regards to CrossFit and increased injuries.

This week I am going to take a little detour from my book review and jump on my CrossFit/Exercise soap box for a little bit.  Of course when I say jump I mean step up gingerly because we all know how much I love jumping on a box!!

I have been asked a particular question over and over again and figured I would give all of you my answer because I am sure you have been asked the same one:  Isn’t CrossFit dangerous – Don’t a lot of people get hurt?  This is a question that I get asked by numerous people on a weekly basis.  These questions have increased over the past year since I began CrossFitting myself and I must admit that my answer has changed since starting.

If you would have asked me that question a year or more ago I may have said Yes! and told people that it is only for those looking to partake in intense training and are injury free.  I may have also said that it is not for the older population because of the high risk of injuries associated with that type of exercise.  I would be the first to admit that this answer was not really based on personal experience but more of the perception of CrossFit.  My answer was wrong and has since changed!  

You would be surprised how many funny looks I get from my patients when I tell them I CrossFit (this is also true of other healthcare professionals when they see a patient of theirs who wants to CrossFit).  Many of them look at me and ask the above “question”.  This gives me a chance to fully educate them on what exactly we do and how it is beneficial.  

Being active in life requires you to perform about 4 basic functions: 

1.  Picking things up from the floor (deadlift) 

2.  Placing objects over head (strict/push press) 

3.  Squatting down (front squat/back squat) 

4.  Pulling yourself up (pull-ups/ring rows)  

Without being able to perform these daily activities you will not be able to fully live your life and believe it or not, you will be more prone to injuries.  CrossFit is one of the only exercise routine that makes you perform functional movements on a regular basis.  So when I hear people tell me that it is too dangerous I ask them if it is dangerous when they bend over to pick up their children or if it is danger for them to put that suitcase over their head on the airplane.  Those movements are exactly what we are training in the gym! 

Are their injuries in CrossFit? – of course – but I would challenge anyone to show me that there are more injuries in this kind of working out versus your weekend warrior who spends time at the YMCA or Planet Fitness.  Injuries are an unfortunate part of working out but with our coaching staff many can be avoided when you focus on what they are telling you and don’t go above and beyond what your capability.

When done correctly CrossFit can provide immense benefits not only to your fitness level but also improving your activities of daily living.  CrossFit can be great for all ages and all walks of life – start slow and gradually build on the week before and you will not only get more fit but also become less injury prone.  The next time you are asked this question I hope that you now have a better answer.  

I will now step gingerly off my soap box!!  Have a great week!




Dr. Andrew Hawley Health Corner – Knee Sleeves

Have you noticed more and more people showing up to the gym wearing those blue or black knee sleeves and wondered what the heck they were wearing them for?  I was asked a few times this last week what they were and why people wear them. After being asked I saw an article on Facebook from that provided some great information.  I will attach a link to the article at the end of this blog but will also provide a little synopsis for those that don’t the time to read the whole article.

Knee sleeves first and foremost are not the same thing as knee braces.  Knee braces are to be worn by those individuals who have had an injury in the past and continue to have structural or stability problems.  These braces are designed to limit or prevent certain movements that could create further injuries.  Knee sleeves are made out of neoprene and are to be used as prophylactic pieces of equipment to prevent injury in the first place.  These sleeves are designed to provide a compressive force as well as providing increased stability to the knee.  Increasing compression around any joint increases the blood flow to that particular region which can cause that joint to loosen up quicker and also recover from workouts faster.  Both of which can result in less chance of injury.

The real question is when should these be worn.  It is recommended to wear these sleeves whenever you are going to be lifting a lot of weight with your legs.  This means a lot of weight for yourself (anytime you are getting near 65% to maxing out).  These movements include the squat (front and back), cleans (all styles) and snatches (all styles).  Whether or not you wear them doing other lighter movements such as wall balls, box jumps and lungs is totally dependent on the individual.

There are several people who recommend all intermediate level lifters and above wear these sleeves as they are going to be lifting more weight and performing more complex movements than those beginners.  If you have thought about getting a pair I would recommend borrowing a pair from a friend and trying them out.  I know, for me personally, these work great as I suffered a knee injury in college and had reconstructive surgery.  These sleeves provide just enough compression and support that I am able to reach full depths without problem. 

You can find these sleeves on or  The most popular brand is Rehband but there are other options such as RockTape.  There are usually two types 5mm and 7mm thickness with the 7mm being more supportive.