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A huge part of CrossFit is being goal-oriented. Whether you want to hit a certain number on your back squat, or participate in a competition or race. Many fitness junkies train with a certain goal or event in mind… and sometimes after looking forward to said event or point in time for so long, you find yourself looking around in confusion once it’s over, wondering what to do now. After talking about my latest half marathon for almost a year, it’s a few weeks in the rear view mirror and I have absolutely ZERO desire to do any sort of working out. At all. It’s BAD.

So, I’ve been sticking my nose around online trying to figure out a way to get my workout mojo back. In case you’ve ever felt like this too, here are just a few suggestions from a post I found on a blog called Psychology WOD:

Post-Open Blues? Time for Some Good, Old-Fashioned Introspection

by: TJSGym

Track Your Experiences

Journaling can be a great way to document and learn from our experiences. If you’ve been keeping a journal throughout the Open (or other big event), that’s great.  Don’t stop now.  You should continue with it during the days and weeks that follow the event’s closure.  If you haven’t been writing, it’s never too late to start.  Jot down your thoughts when your mind wanders to the event.  Reflect on what your goals were going into the event (E.g., a certain ranking in the Open, a certain number of clients added to your sales profile at work, a certain kind of emotional presence at a social event).  Write down how you fared at meeting those goals.  Write down what you did well and would like to repeat in the future, as well as what needs to be altered.  For the Open, you could focus on various aspects, including physical self-care (sleep, nutrition, training), mental preparation (visualization, relaxation exercises, journaling), and management of the extras (time spent on the leaderboard, handling disappointing workouts, etc.).  The more you can put in writing, the more solid a record you will have for your future, and the better your guide for next time will be.

Do Some Research

Consider your options for next steps carefully.  It may or may not be best to jump right into your next CrossFit goal, scanning the Internet for upcoming competitions in your area.  Maybe it’s time to try something new and test your training in a new forum.  Maybe there’s a basketball league or a mountain-bike race you might want to try.  There is room for more than one endeavor in our lives, and if you’ve put a lot of yourself into the Open, it might be a good time to find another outlet while you continue with CrossFit in a less competitive or intense way for the moment.  There is huge value in competition, but there are also other avenues you might want to explore.

Set Some Goals

During the days and weeks after your event, with your research behind you, you might take some time to set some goals for what’s next in your life.  Try to create short-term goals (maybe just the next few weeks), mid-term goals (6 months out), and long-term goals (1-2 years).  During the first couple of weeks after a big event isn’t the best time to make hard and fast decisions about what you will choose to focus on.  However, people often find it helpful and grounding to look to the future and start to create a plan.  Just be careful not to let your planning prevent you from feeling what you’re feeling; rigorous planning for the next big thing can become a defensive maneuver if you’re really disappointed in the last big thing.

Connect with Others  

Don’t underestimate the importance of staying connected during your post-event experience.  Research is unambiguous about the effects of social connection, especially during times when you are at risk of even the slightest duress.3  Be sure to find time and ways to connect with friends—those who are CrossFitters and can relate to the Open as wells as those who aren’t and can’t.  Both are important; it’s the connecting that is critical.

Find ways to Relax

You probably know what works for you: massage, visualization, meditation, hiking, and reading, are some examples.  Make sure you find some down time while you’re less occupied with your training.  It might even be the perfect time for that weekend away or full-blown vacation you’ve been putting off because of your training requirements.

Celebrate!        

This is just a little reminder to celebrate your victories and the fact that you put yourself out there, competed in the Open (or put on a big event or ran a long race), and came out the other side in one piece.  There is much to celebrate in this, even if you are one of the people feeling blue.  Having some kind of celebration, however small, is a great way to mark an ending and move on.  If you’re not able to do this at all and are really struggling, it’s probably time to talk to a counselor or therapist.

Notes:

1. Robertson, E., Grace S., Wallington, T., and Stewart, D.E. (2004). Antenatal risk factors for postpartum depression: a synthesis of recent literature.  General Hospital Psychiatry, 26, 289-295.

2. Bennett, S.S & Indman, P. (2006).  Beyond the Blues:  A Guide to Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression.  Moodswings Press.

3.  Belger, A. (2012).  The Power of Community: CrossFit and the Force of Human Connection.  Victory Belt Publishing.

 

 

5 Lessons Learned from the 2016 CrossFit Games

Lessons-from-the-2016-Games-582x319

By Damect Dominguez

1. Bad days happen to everyone
Fans cheer, athletes perform; that’s the deal. Sometimes though, fans are left wondering why the athletes they’re cheering for aren’t performing the way they expect. We all have bad days—sometimes that can extend to weeks or months. After the Games, Noah Ohlsen took to Instagram to explain to his fans why he may have left them a bit disappointed: “The thing is, for some reason, all week something just didn’t feel right. It’s kind of indescribable and in no way am I making an excuse. I just know that that was not me out there on the floor. I couldn’t quite tap into who I am as an athlete, but for mere moments that seemed far too seldom. It’s tough when a year of work is showcased in one week, especially when it’s such a grueling one.”

Lesson: Bad days happen, sometimes at the worse possible times. Learn from it and move on to the next one!

2. A year of work can turn a weakness into a strength
Last year two of Mat Fraser’s lowest finishes at the CrossFit Games came in events six and seven, Sprint Course 1 and 2, respectively. In an interview, he later stated that he just wasn’t that good at sprinting. That was 2015. In 2016, fans were surprised when Fraser dominated almost the entire field to finish second in the Suicide Sprint event. It was at that moment that Fraser, in the minds of many, cemented how much work he had put in the past year to ensure he had no holes in his game.

Lesson: Don’t treat a weakness like a lifetime curse—it’s not an excuse as to why you didin’t do well in a WOD or competition. Instead, make it a goal to turn that weakness into a strength. Give yourself a deadline—3, 6, 12 months. Whatever the goal is, don’t let up!

3. An athlete’s placing or performance doesn’t tell the whole story
Lucas Parker has had a consistent showing at the CrossFit Games for some time now. This year he finished 22nd. Looking at that number one could argue, ‘that’s how fit he is, 22ndish’. Especially at the CrossFit Games, the reality is that a lot goes on behind the scenes. When reflecting on the Games Parker stated on his blog: “… after Event One, I was f***** up.  The trail run destroyed my calves and ankle, and had me peeing gatorade-red for the rest of the day.” Given that info, the narrative of Parker changes a bit.

Of course, the same could be said of all athletes. Everyone has something to deal with, especially when put through 15 grueling workouts over the course of a five days. Sam Dancer, who finished the weekend in 32nd wrote that with “a liberal amount of pain medication I was able to manage the fibula injury all the way to the end. It wasn’t pretty and I most definitely looked like a fool but I wanted so badly to finish. May not have been the best decision but I’m 100% sure it was the right one.” And just like it did with Parker, given that narrative, the story of Dancer changes a bit.

Lesson: On a personal level, don’t judge your performance by the performance of others. Someone beat you in a workout? Maybe they trained to peak on that specific day. You beat someone on a workout? Maybe they didn’t sleep the night before or they have personal issues that are keeping them from peak performance. Compare you to you.

4. On defining success
During the course of the Games, rookie athlete and fourth place finisher Brent Fikowski gave fans an insight into what goes on inside the mind of a Games competitor. For many, fourth is a tough place to finish—especially by only two points. In his final recap, Fikowski gave us a great lesson on defining success:

“I have to remember 36 other men with talent would be happy with my 4th place finish, and another 200 from Regionals would be happy just to be on this competition floor. And a billion people in China don’t care. If I had come third part of me would have wanted second, if I came second I would’ve wanted first, if I came first I would want 4 firsts in a row like Froning. It never ends, so it’s important to stop and appreciate what you have accomplished and just be freaking happy about it. It’s not often as an athlete you can just sit back and be content for a while.

At the end of the day what is third anyway? I’m not discrediting anyone who has ever won third; I’m just saying it is a line drawn by someone else. Draw your own line; define success as doing your best. A few years ago at Regionals if you came top three you were happy, fourth was failing because you didn’t qualify to the games. Now if you come fifth you are happy, you get a belt, you get to go to the Games, and 6th place is disappointing. It is a line that changes, so why even draw the line if you are happy with your effort. Third gets a medal on a podium and a bit more money. I don’t really compete for any of those things anyway. Success is the satisfaction knowing you did your best. Success isn’t winning a trophy. I realize this is a bit of a contradiction, because if you read my last post you know I risked it on the last event to get on the podium. So what am I trying to say? I don’t know. I’m just kind of rambling. I guess shoot for the stars but be happy if you land on the moon… or something tacky like that. Basically I’m happy, and if you are still reading this, quit saying “Oh Brent you should’ve been third”. Because I wasn’t, I was 4th, and that is totally ok.” (From Brent Fikowski’s Facebook page. To read all his recaps go to: https://www.facebook.com/BFikowski/?fref=ts)

Lesson: Define success on your own terms.

5. Just do you
Last year it was Tia-Clair Toomey who surprised almost everyone to earn a second place finish at the CrossFit Games. This year, Patrick Vellner played the role of spoiler for many of CrossFit’s biggest names by taking one of the spots on the podium. It’s easy for an athlete to get intimidated—especially by athletes you see on TV or who others constantly talk about. As a matter of fact, many Games athletes we’ve spoken to have at one point or another mentioned how it wasn’t until they achieved success in a certain event that they didn’t quite feel they were on the same level. This year many Games rookies showed us that success doesn’t care what your name is or how many people know your name; instead, it rewards hard work and what you’re able to do on that given day.

Lesson: Don’t concern yourself with what others are doing or will be doing come game-day. Ask the best from yourself during training and in competition and the rest will take care of itself.

 

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion between your thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). There are two menisci in each knee joint. They can be damaged or torn during activities that put pressure on or rotate the knee joint . Taking a hard tackle on the football field or a sudden pivot on the basketball court can result in a meniscus tear.
You don’t have to be an athlete to get a meniscus tear, though. Simply getting up too quickly from a squatting position can also cause a meniscal tear. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, more than 500,000 meniscal tears take place in the United States each year.
Treatment options can vary from at-home remedies to outpatient surgery, depending on the severity of your injury. You can help prevent this injury by performing exercises that will strengthen your leg muscles and using proper techniques during contact activities or sports.
According to Boston Children’s Hospital, meniscus tears are increasingly common in children. This is because children are participating in organized sports at an earlier age. Additionally, when focusing on just one sport, a child is more likely to experience a meniscus tear. The same is true for teenagers who participate in competitive sports.
The meniscus weakens with age, and tears are more common in people over the age of 30. Movements like squatting or stepping can lead to injury in someone with weak menisci. If you have osteoarthritis, you’re at higher risk of injuring your knee or tearing your meniscus. Osteoarthritis is a common joint  disorder involving pain and stiffness in your joints caused by aging and wear and tear.
When an older person experiences a meniscus tear, it’s more likely to be related to degeneration. This is when the cartilage in the knee becomes weaker and thinner. As a result , it’s more prone to tear.

Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear

Symptoms
When a meniscus tear occurs, you may hear a popping sound around your knee joint. Afterward, you may experience:
  • pain, especially when the area is touched
  • swelling
  • difficulty moving your knee or inability to move it in a full range of motion
  • the feeling of your knee locking or catching
  • the feeling that your knee is giving way or unable to support you
You may also experience a slipping or popping sensation, which is usually an indication that a piece of cartilage has become loose and is blocking the knee joint.

Tips to Prevent Meniscus Tears

Prevention
You can prevent meniscus tears by regularly performing exercises that strengthen your leg muscles. This will help stabilize your knee joint to protect it from injury.
You can also use protective gear during sports or a brace to support your knee during activities that may increase your risk of injury.
Always use proper form when exercising or engaging in activities that may put pressure on your knee joint. It’s a good idea to:
  • warm up and stretch before exercising
  • use proper gear, such as athletic shoes designed specifically for your activity
  • lace up your footwear properly
  • learn the proper techniques for the activities you engage in
Prevention is always the key to living your best life as free from drugs and surgery as possible.
Disclaimer…….
If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist for more than a few days or occur after your knee has been injured, you should contact your doctor. If your knee locks and you’re unable to bend your knee after straightening it, you should call your doctor.
Have a great week. Stay healthy.
Dr. Meghan

5 Tips to Destroy Wall Balls in Crossfit WODs

Wall Balls hurt. They are one of those exercises that really test you deep down, making your legs and arms scream out for you to stop. Here are 5 tips to help you get much, much better at them.

Author: Robbie Hudson January 12, 2016, Published on BoxRox

1. Catching and Positioning the Ball

You want to keep the ball as close to your body as possible during the entire movement. As with any weight, the further away from your body it is, the heavier it will seem. This is because the resistance arm becomes longer.

The tricky part about keeping the ball close to your face and body is that we have all, whether we like to admit it or not, probably had a Wall Ball smash into our faces at some point during a WOD because of tired arms and fatigue. This isn’t pleasant, and conditions you to want to keep the ball as far away as possible in order to avoid this embarrassment happening again.

Resist the temptation and position your hands to the sides and slightly towards the bottom of Ball during the catch. Concentrating on hand positioning will help to focus your attention, and avoid any further unwanted kisses from your Ball.
2. How Deep should you Squat?

During Wall Balls, your hip crease must break the plane of the knee joint in the squat. There is nothing more frustrating than watching another member of your Box cheat their way through a grueling series of Wall Balls and round it off with a further set of unearned gloating and celebration. As with all Crossfit exercises, if you are going to do something, do it properly.

In order to train your body to find the exact position, try practicing with another ball placed on the floor behind you that you ‘sit’ on during each rep. Don’t let the ball take any of your weight, simply use it as a physical trigger to teach your body the depth of the position that it needs to achieve. As soon as you touch the ball, propel yourself straight

With Wall Balls, it is vital that you generate enough energy to propel the ball upwards with force and accuracy. Performing the squat properly is essential to making this happen. You don’t need to super deep, ass to grass, in order to create this power. If you are struggling with this, try moving your feet into a wider stance. This will force your hamstrings into the movement at an earlier point, and help generate upward force that you can then translate into the throw.

3. Give Your Arms a Rest

Reducing fatigue in the muscles surrounding the shoulder join is only a good thing during Wall Balls, and any way you can do this should be maximised!

After propelling the ball upwards, allow your arms to drop back down, that slight moment of rest will make a difference over time and help to reduce the fatigue of your deltoids. Although this seems like a miniscule and possibly pointless action, it works. When you are dealing with endurance and volume in exercise, small improvements to the efficiency of your movements make all the difference.

4. Take the Weight of the Ball

The mechanics and movement of wall balls should flow in a good rhythm. This means that although your legs are on fire and you feel like you might die, you must try and maintain a graceful movement throughout. When you catch the ball on its descent, absorb it’s weight into your squat.
Keep your hands high when you catch the ball. Its momentum will drive you downwards and your job is to turn this ballistic movement into a strong bounce at the bottom that will power the Ball upwards again.

5. Stand the Right Distance from the Wall

No matter how effectively you manage to rest your arms during each movement, or perfect your squat depth to maximize power, if you stand too far away then you will give yourself a huge amount of extra work.

If you have to throw the ball too far forward (because you are further away than you need to be), then you will lose the upward momentum as your body tilts forward to correct the movement. This wastes unnecessary energy, and will tire you out much quicker.
To measure the correct distance, place the ball in two hands (in goblet position) with your arms fully outstretched. When the ball touches the wall then you have your position.

Who would have thought that spelling your name could become a great workout or warm-up?! I have seen it a few times in classrooms, warm-ups and even workouts. Its a great idea to use if you’re short on time and can’t make it to the gym, or if you just decide to stay home and need a little something to do. All you need is the alphabet with exercises assigned to each letter. You can add more than one exercise to a letter to prevent repetition or add/subtract equipment to make it interesting.  Have fun and test out what kind of exercise your name creates…

spell name

I know, I know, just by the title of this post alone, you think I’m bananas. Then again, anyone who knows me is already aware of this fact. Hear me out.

Have you ever ripped your hands on the pull-up bar? I have.

Have you ever snapped yourself so hard during double under practice that it left you with zebra stripes for a week afterwards? I have.

How about kettle bells, have you gotten a gnarly bump on your wrist from a few botched single-arm snatches?

Maybe you tweaked your back with one bad deadlift.

Or, you did Fran. Or 16.5. Or 15.5. You get the point.

Guaranteed that some (or all) of these scenarios have left you in a place of ouch, wondering “why do I put myself through this?”

I’ll tell you why, we learn from our pain, our mistakes, our injuries. Pushing yourself to the limit at the box will eventually lead you to find out what that limit is, but that shouldn’t deter you from continuously working to get better. Andrea’s post on Monday already has me rethinking my grip on the pull-up bar for when I get back into the gym. If you hate Fran for killing your lungs, you should also thank her for teaching you that you need to work on your cardio for next time.

Yes, some WODs make us feel awful. Usually, these are the WODs that showcase our weaknesses. Nobody likes a source of insecurity on display for others to see. Hence, lower attendance on the days that lots of running or burpees seems to be a trend over the years. Why? Those are the movements that require pure grit that send us (quickly) into the pain cave to admit a fatigued defeat.

So the next time you see a benchmark WOD that you particularly dislike, don’t rumble grumble roar and make your way to happy hour. Embrace the suck, head to the box and be thankful for the opportunity to face your fitness challenges head on, instead of hiding out in denial. Eventually, your enemies may become friends.

CrossFitters all over the world, meet WallBall McBurpeeSnatch. It’s about time you two kissed and made up.

 

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