by Erin Maghery, PTA, February 25, 2019
As a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) and a Crossfitter, I absolutely believe the answer is yes! Injuries and pain can sideline an athlete. And just like any other athlete, we hate to be sidelined. The main goal for the majority of Crossfitters is simply to be able to continue to do Crossfit. So why wait until you’re sidelined with an injury? There are many ways seeing a Physical Therapist can help Crossfit athletes, even if you aren’t injured!
Physical therapists are specialists in spotting faulty movement patterns and helping to correct them. I hear many people ask, “But can’t our coaches do the same thing?” It is true that a good Crossfit coach can tell if a lift is being done incorrectly and help to correct your form. However, what if you can’t get your depth in a squat, but your mechanics appear to be correct? Your chest is up, your knees are tracking correctly, your feet are the correct distance apart, but you still can’t get as low as you would like? It’s possible that the issue is coming from your ankle and you may be lacking the ankle mobility required to squat that low. Physical Therapists are experts at determining where those movement faults are coming from and developing the right plan to fix them and allow your body to achieve that perfect form.
Along the same lines, shoulder pain may be coming from an issue in your neck. Hip pain may be coming from an issue in your low back. A physical therapist has the proper skill set to assess your movement pattern to connect the dots and see where that lack of movement is truly coming from. Wouldn’t it be great if you could fix something that could potentially cause an injury before it happens? Seeing a physical therapist for an overall movement assessment can accomplish this. The worst thing modern medicine has taught us is to wait on treatment, or that masking pain or inflammation fixes an issue. Preventing injuries by finding movement dysfunction before a debilitating problem occurs is the real ticket to staying on top of your game.
Should you choose to not heed my warning, a physical therapist can help treat an injury if one should happen. Crossfitters tend to be wary of seeking treatment from anyone who they think is going to tell them to stop Crossfitting. One of the goals of physical therapy for any person with any type of injury is to return that person to what we refer to as their prior level of function. In other words, to get that person back to doing what they were doing before they got hurt. As with any sport, it may be necessary to take a short break in order to let your body heal. However, one of the best things about Crossfit is that there is such a large variety of exercises and movement patterns, that everything is able to be scaled. A physical therapist can help figure out what movements may need to be held for a bit, what may need to be dialed back, and what good and safe substitutions can be made while you are recovering. Maybe you have to stop doing one or two movements or lifts for a short time, but you can still go to the box and get your WOD in with modifications.
As the old saying goes, everyone needs 3 things to keep life moving and everything working….a good plumber, a good electrician, and a good mechanic. For Crossfitters, a good physical therapist in your corner is as essential to keep you moving and in the game!!
Erin Maghery, PTA is a graduate of the Naugatuck Valley Community College Physical Therapist Assistant program. She spent many years volunteering at Gaylord Hospital in her hometown of Wallingford and has worked in an outpatient orthopedic setting for 2 years. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in History/Education from Central Connecticut State University.
Erin has special interest in the treatment of orthopedic and athletic injuries. She is also interested in integrative health and healing. She is a member of the CT chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association. Erin has been a sports fan and player for her whole life. In her free time she enjoys Crossfit and has run multiple marathons.