Well after my wonderful outing with tons of toes to bars and rowing, I was met with a mild strain in my abdomen. Now it turns out this is the third time something like this has happened (the first time being really bad) and I am now officially aware that I need to make a certain number of changes in my programming to address the situation. First off, I need to snap out of the frustrating funk of needing to take three full days off in the middle of a very serious training schedule, crap happens and I need to just roll with it!
Ok, now that that;s over with, let's move on to how to fix the problem. I have very weak hips. SO weak n fact, that I rarely even use them while doing most movements. I overcompensate with my adductors (the inside of my legs, or my groin muscles) when flexing my hip (bringing my knee towards my chest) and I also tend to overuse my glutes when training or functioning where my lower body is involved. So, when I need to perform in a manner that acutely utilizes my hips, I tend to break down pretty quickly. And here is where my CrossFitting ends up biting me in the ass. If i were asked to do 10 strict toes to bar (hanging from a bar and bringing my feet up to touch the bar) I would probably not be able to do so. But is I was able to do kipping toes to bar, I could probably get 40 or so unbroken. How is this possible? Well, the strict movement calls for my hip flexors to be the primary movers; and, since they are damn weak, I am left failing the exercise. Kipping allows other muscle groups to engage and take over the movement, along with momentum. So what ends up happening is that i have an improper firing sequence of muscle and am left with imbalances in my gains. This also leads to a greater risk of injury because I have muscles NOT being used, along with muscles being used TOO MUCH. And there you have it, the over-strain on my stomach because of my lack of strength in my hips on this movement have led to a mild injury. I am just thankful it is not worse.
This leads to a huge discussion on the dangs of improper CrossFit training. While I could go into this forever (and LOVE doing so), I will through out one argument and leave the rest for another, longer, more detailed post on all this. I know of SO many CrossFit affiliates who teach the kipping pull up early and often. This is a pull up where you use all kinds of momentum to get your chin over the bar. While I utilize this move, and the crazier version of it, the Butterfly Kip, on a regular basis in my training, I am more and more hesitant to get people doing this. I say this because I know that if you can't do like 10 or more strict pull ups, under complete control, you'll do nothing but exacerbate existing imbalances and create new ones by kipping all the time. You are basically completely neglecting all the ACTUAL pull ups muscles when kipping. Proof of this is that i know a great deal of people who can bang out 10+ kipping pull ups but can't actually do a single strict one! This is insanity to me! Kipping is cool, i know, it looks cool, it feels cool and it makes you blast through "Fran" like nobodies business. But, to be brutally honest, if you are not a competitive CrossFitter, it's a pretty stupid move to do on a regular basis.
Don't get me wrong, kipping is a hugely important skill to understand in terms of over-all athleticism and health; but so is building all your muscles to fire, engage, activate and de-activate properly. So if you're like me (and I would comfortably assume that well over 90% of the world out there has some pretty serious imbalances), take it easy with going "balls to the wall" all the time. Remember to stabilize and CONTROL your body. If you can't use a portion of your body correctly, don't use it incorrectly.
Now all I can do, as a competitive CrossFitter, is work on healing enough to get after Open Sectionals Workout #3. Here's to a recovery-filled Friday!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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