shoulder-elbow pain

Preventing Elbow and Shoulder Pain in CrossFit


In all my years as a coach, I have heard numerous complaints from athletes regarding tendonitis in the elbows and shoulders. Why does this keep happening and what can we do to help prevent this? If you started Crossfit in a relatively de-conditioned state and noticed pain in your elbows/shoulders 2-12 weeks after your first class, we can help.

When you start training like we do in Crossfit, your body is going to make rapid adaptations to the stresses experienced at the gym. The root of the tendonitis problem is, in general, muscles are going to adapt faster than connective tissues (for this post, tendons). Muscles have a huge supply of blood, and thus receive a plethora of nutrients and oxygen. This allows muscles to work hard and adapt quickly. On the flip side, tendons lack this vast supply of vasculature and will not be able to adapt as fast as muscle; however, when given proper rest and by following a well periodized program, tendonitis can be largely avoided.

Here’s how to avoid elbow and shoulder pain in CrossFit:

Most athletes I know that experience elbow pain, when asked if they have ever taken a rest day/week, the answer is always no. The fundamental problem is trying to progress in a forever-linear way. This is not possible in fitness. You need to ‘load’ for a period of 2-6 weeks and then de-load for 1-2 weeks. The de-load is where all the magic happens. Your connective tissues are given a chance to ‘catch up’ to your ever strengthening muscles. In addition, your whole body gets a chance to fully recover, normalize any physiological imbalances, and feel mentally ‘fresh’. I was a college athlete and we trained hard all year. However, every 3-4 weeks we would always de-load. This meant lighter weights, shorter and/or fewer workouts, and an overall easier week. It felt good to have ‘permission‘ to take it easy and this is what I want to give all of you. Plan it into your routine. Feel good about some down time. Talk to the coaches and we can help you figure this out in much more detail.

Work hard, rest hard.

— Coach Dan


Sunday Trail Run


Crossfit sanitas Trail run2

This Sunday we will be meeting out at the Flatirons Vista Trail in South Boulder just off 93 as you are leaving Boulder. You can bring friends, family and dogs! Should be a hot one so lets plan on meeting at 8am and leaving by 8:05 sharp. The length of the run will range from 40-60minutes and I’m sure there will be a few that decide to take it for a long one. Look out for Coach Dwight at the trail head! 


Why Incorporating Strength Training is Beneficial for Endurance Performance


In the past it has been suggested that all you need to do to increase running, cycling, or swimming performance is to consistently put in more and more volume at your given sport. The thought process seems pretty sound, it does follow the theory of specificity. Practice does make perfect, right?

In fact, practice does increase a multitude of performance markers by simply allowing your body to adapt to a stimulus; this adaptation is from neuromuscular patterning that makes our bodies more efficient at whatever activity we do most often. The problem is that this same neuromuscular wiring system that helps us increase overall work capacity can start to work against our own systems safe guards to injury and we can start to develop significant movement imbalances.

*Warning: Science Content* On a bike, you can increase the load to a certain extent by learning how to maintain a faster pedal rate at a harder gear and this in turn will make you go faster. Running on the other hand is just about an increase in force velocity as your foot hits the ground and the loading remains constant. Swimming is again about force velocity against a constant, that being the water, which has been said to be a force of about 25 pounds of resistance. We can increase load to an extent with paddles by allowing us to grab more water with each stroke, but even that can only help to a certain extent.

What this means for the endurance athlete is that there can be significant health and performance benefits from embarking on a program that targets muscle imbalances, as well as force and velocity production through an increase in load as well as corrective mobility exercise.

Muscular Imbalances

Everyone to some extent has some sort of muscular imbalance that is due to either an activity they do on a regular basis or even from sitting for long periods of time. For those that are cyclist this is even more apparent. Those that are cyclists as well as having desk jobs are in a state of constant hip flexion. This constant state of hip flexion creates improper length-tension relationships and force-couple relationships within the muscles, especially those around the hip and midline.


The muscles on the anterior of the hip which are involved in hip flexion get shorter and those involved in hip extension on the posterior side tend to elongate. What this does is it takes those muscles out of there ideal tension range which decreases neuromuscular efficiency and firing, decreasing overall force production.

The same applies for the anterior side of the hip. When those hip flexors are shortened then the length-tension relationship on the other side of the curve is also minimized. By incorporating a strength training program that develops greater hip extension force production along with targeted mobility exercises we can help to sure up the muscular imbalances, placing the muscles in their optimal resting length so that they will be able to apply greater force during a bike ride or run.


Leg Strength and its Effect on Lactate Threshold

Numerous studies have been done to determine what an increase in leg strength will have on endurance performance. The main takeaway from these studies is that an increase in leg strength results in an increase in lactate threshold level that in turn results in greater glycogen sparing. What this means is that by increasing overall leg strength the rate of lactate accumulation in the blood is diminished allowing for greater time to exhaustion. In a study published by the Medical Science Sports Exercise Journal, which looked at the effect of strength training in conjunction with endurance training they found that “there were significant reductions in plasma lactate concentration at all relative exercise intensities ranging between 55 and 75% of peak VO2 training. The improved endurance performance was associated with a 12% increase in LT.” Another study published in the Exercise Sports Science Review looked at what physiological factors determining endurance performance ability and they found a significant indicator is how well the body utilizes glycogen. They took individuals with low lactate threshold values and individuals with high lactate threshold values and put them through a series of tests. What they found was that “the low LT group displayed more than a 2-fold higher rate of muscle glycogen use and blood lactate concentration, and as a result were able to exercise only one-half as long as the high LT group.”


An increase in overall strength capacity as well as correct length-tension relationships within the muscular fibers will help to increase overall force production as well as increase lactate threshold levels. The increase in lactate threshold levels will help to spare muscle glycogen allowing for greater time to exhaustion and therefore an increase in endurance performance. 


Sunday Trail Run Meeting Spot



Sunday the 13th we will be meeting at Chautauqua and running the Mesa Trail. Dogs, friends and family are all welcome.  The group will be meeting at 7:45 to beat the heat and early morning traffic at the trail head.  Look for coach Dwight!