CrossFit athletes display an amazing amount of will power to devote hours upon hours focusing on skill work, training weaknesses, and nutrition. Generally speaking, the typical CrossFit athlete trains 4-6 days a week, eats a relatively strict diet, and makes some lifestyle sacrifices all to help increase their level of performance. However when it comes to recovery, maintenance and mobility, it usually takes some type of significant injury to force the athlete to focus on self care. This shouldn’t be the case. Recovery, maintenance, and mobility should have just as much of a role in your training regimen as everything else.
A Lack of Self Care Will Lead to a Lack of PRs
In order for your body to perform at an optimal level, your nervous system must be firing on all cylinders so you can recruit the proper muscles needed for each movement. This is extremely important to understand as an athlete. In order to excel in CrossFit, efficiency is everything. When an area of your body stops performing its necessary function, other muscles will begin to compensate and help share the workload. For example, if your glute stops firing, the workload of the movement will need to be taken over by the quadriceps. This becomes a problem because you are using muscles that should not be working and this overuse of the “wrong” muscle can result in a loss of efficiency or worse, injury.
In my personal experience working with athletes, those who take the time to receive massage, acupuncture or apply other forms of self care techniques have less injuries and a full range of motion during their workouts. Keeping the muscle tissues balanced gives an athlete the ability to fully function. We know that muscle health has a direct effect on our bone structures. Therefore, if a muscle is not properly functioning and firing, it will pull bones into places they are not supposed to be. This change in bone structure effects the whole body, from posture to the nervous system.
What Self Care Should I Focus On?
Receiving massage regularly benefits the CrossFit athlete. On top of providing an athlete with full range of motion, massage allows for the breaking up of scar tissue and necessary restoration of muscles. Similarly, acupuncture treatments are extremely beneficial for keeping the nervous system functioning at its highest level. Combining the two practices and adding them to your self care routine will have significant positive impacts on your performance.
If you want to be able to participate in your sport for a long period of time, you have to take care of your body. Yes, exercise is considered a form of care for the body. However, when your body has imbalances, inactive muscles, and poor movement patterns long term problems will arise. Addressing these problems ensures you will be able to perform at the highest level for a long period of time.
I Can’t Afford 5 Massages a Week… Obviously…
We recommend at least a 1:1 ratio of workouts to recovery. So if you workout about 5 hours a week, you should dedicate at least 5 hours a week to self care. This can be as simple as laying on the floor with a foam roller or lacrosse ball while you’re watching TV or playing with your kids; you could keep a lacrosse ball in your car so you can mobilize your low back and hamstrings while you commute; or maybe sit in a squat while you’re waiting for the oven to preheat. Don’t feel like you need to set aside special time for self care… just sneak in little moments throughout the day and your body will thank you!