Dealing with Injury

CrossFit exercise injury restraint Workouts

Since sectionals, I've been extremely frustrated in my training due to a series of overtraining injuries: three stress fractures and a calf pull, as well as general metabolic burnout. In the week after sectionals, I took a lot of time off, but found that even moderate training only worsened things, and so I've decided to take a step back for a lot longer than I'd like. Honestly, the resting is much harder than the training.

The injuries are the result of the movements I'm best at, as it turned out. I do my burpees so fast that I don't bother to bend down and place my hands on the floor; I simply drop. This led to a stress fracture in my forearm. The other two are in my shins, and are the result of my beautifully bouncy and fast box jumps. In both cases, it was simply too much done without enough recovery.

Why Resting is Harder than Training

I love my training. To me, it is so much more than just exercise. It is play, and community, and friendly competition. It is a source of challenge and growth, and a proving ground. It helps me stay healthy. Because there are all these positive associations with training, it is very hard for me to be okay with just resting.

This is a common issue with athletes and gym-goers. We have spent so much time opposing the normally sedentary lifestyle of our society, creating hundreds of counterarguments to all the conveniences and pressures to not exercise, that when it comes time for us to back off, those scripts continue running and pushing us to workout. Under normal circumstances, this can be a problem, but when we're injured, it is especially dangerous. I am certainly guilty of this habit (as evidenced by my current state), but I like to think I've finally learned my lesson.

The problem arises, I think, when exercise goes from its natural place as the result of play or occasional conflict to a routine performed for its own sake. Humans never set aside time to 'exercise' before we became so sedentary it was necessary. It cane become an escape then, or an obsession. Even CrossFitters, who are probably some of the most guilty of over-exercising, recognize this: I found this quote on the CrossFit RSS feed: "Conversely, a lack of restraint and intuition will cause your athletics to become just another outlet to express your insecurities and obsessive/compulsive tendencies."

When it is Okay to Injure Yourself

There are times, of course, when self-sacrifice becomes something noble, usually in support of some higher cause. The willingness to subject one's body to injurious stressors in order to accomplish some titanic task has been a hallmark of great Warriors throughout history and myth, often to the point of death. But it is important to distinguish between a task that must get accomplished at all costs, including one's own health, and a task that we simply want to accomplish. There is no point in injuring yourself through training. The whole point of training is to prepare for something more definitive. Even injuring yourself in competition is pretty dumb, since it prevents later competition.

This was actually what frustrated me the most initially. I had pushed myself beyond my limits at sectionals in order to do well, and therefore barely qualified for regionals. But then I was too injured to go to regionals. It seemed unfair and cruel. I've since decided simply not to go to regionals. Thus, leaving sectionals as the highest challenge I was to face, I feel that it was more justifiable to have put myself through so much (but only slightly more justifiable, I'd probably make better progress in my training and life if I weren't injured right now).

Despite all the stupidity associated with pushing too hard, I think it was a good experience to know that I can. Even if I also learned that I generally should not, I now know how to do it, and what it feels like. I'm also learning that a few weeks of rest isn't going to undo all of my hard work. In fact, it is giving me the energy and time to focus on other aspects of my training, such as flexibility and coordination.

Do you have any stories of overtraining and overcoming persistent injuries? Please share in the comments.


Image source: minxlj on Flickr