Crossfit is a little rough on the body.
Disclaimer: it’s worth it.
For any sport, there are some scrapes and bruises that come along for the ride. For distance runners, it’s blisters; for soccer players, it’s shin bruises and rug burns. Heck, for football players, it’s everything! Crossfitters have their own set of unique battle wounds. Here’s what you can expect, and what you can do about it to prevent (or at least minimize) some common ailments.
The telltale Crossfit battle scars
Ripped up palms and rough hands. These are pretty typical of a Crossfitter, due to all the work done on the rig! Between pull-ups, toes-to-bar, muscle-ups, and chest-to-bars, chalked up hands take a beating. The solve? Wearing grips is no doubt an easy way to buffer the friction between your palms and the bar (especially if you go speal), but proper hand care is a must. Use a pumice stone to shave down rough skin in the shower, and wear lotion to properly moisturize.
Bruised and scuffed shins. Deadlifts, box jumps gone wrong, and any Olympic lift starting from the “power” position pose a threat for black and blue shins! The solve? Sliding your knee sleeves down a bit to cover your shins helps add a little extra protection to this otherwise fragile part of the body. If you do bite the edge of the box and cut up your shins badly, however, wash the affected area immediately and apply ice to help with the swelling!
Rope burns. These ones benefit highly from reading the WOD ahead of time and dressing accordingly! Painful burns down one leg from rope climbs are miserable, and only make every next rope climb worse. The solve? Simply wearing long pants or leggings, or tall socks makes a giant difference. Similar to shin protection, sliding a knee sleeve down to your ankle on your dominant J hook leg helps a ton. If you do get burned, wash your skin and apply a soothing salve like Doc Spartan.
Thumb blisters. Most often due to snatches from the wide grip, or repetitive cleans from the friction of rolling the bar over into the front rack position, thumb blisters make holding anything, even a light kettle bell, painful! The solve? Taping the thumb as a preventative measure before an Oly-intensive workout keeps the bar from rubbing straight through your skin.
Collarbone bruises. This one always gets me funny looks at work! Heavy cleans, or even a heavy push press, continuously slamming into the collarbone makes for quite a painful, large bruise. The solve? In terms of form, keeping your elbows as high as you can so that the bar is shelved by the shoulders makes a big difference – though sometimes mobility keeps this from happening. For women, a brand called Chestee fortunately makes a padded sports bra designed just for this issue! (They are also coming out with leggings that have added shin protection, too.)
Thigh bruises. Tons of hang cleans (or any movement where you have to bring the bar back down to the hang position for your next rep), add up to a giant bruise on each leg! The solve? There isn’t much you can do here unfortunately – but adding a little extra bend into your legs when you “catch” the bar atop your thighs can help “shock absorb” some of the force.
Scraped up quads. A correctly executed snatch or clean should have the bar lightly grazing the thighs on the way up before initiating the powerful part of the movement. This, however, means anyone in shorts gets the front of their quads a bit rubbed raw. The solve? Pretty obvious – don’t wear shorts. It’s important to keep the bar as close to the body as possible for these lifts, so if you see them in your WOD, dress accordingly!
Bruised (and dirty) knees. Lunges only count if your knee touches the ground, so you better be sure it makes contact! And burpees are pretty hard to do without letting your knees hit that dirty gym floor. The result? Purple kneecaps. The solve? Knee sleeves add a ton of extra padding when leggings or pants just don’t cut it. No way around this one either though – it’s a necessary evil!
Whip marks. Every missed double-under comes with a painful, red mark either across the hamstrings or forearms! Especially if your rope isn’t heavily coated, these really sting. The solve? Practice your double-unders! But really, long pants or leggings are another helpful outfit solution here. Otherwise, stopping a set of double-unders one count short when you feel yourself getting tired or out of rhythm beats snapping yourself with the rope mid-rotation!
Wear your wounds proudly
Am I trying to discourage anyone from Crossfit? Hell no. Any sport you do comes with its own set of telltale scrapes and bruises – it’s just part of the sport! The best thing you can do is wear them proudly and know how to take care of them when you get a little cut up.
But let’s face it – did a little scrape ever keep a Crossfitter down? Nope.