Sunday, December 11, 2011

Keep it safe

I have been reading Alex Hutchison's excellent book Cardio or Weights.  In it he examines the science around a host of fitness and exercise related issues and presents it in a very accessible well written way.  Alex is a top journalist and his skill as a writer is clear in this book.

He is giving me lots of ideas for my fitness column in TGO magazine!  One of the things he covers is aging and the effect on your body and fitness.  He explains that there is evidence that:

Exercise - particularly running - does not seem to lead to joint damage as you get older.  He writes about it here.  However, if you pick up an injury then you can end up with more pain and aches in the joints than if you had never trained.  The science here is that while the statistics look like sports lead to dodgy knees, that risk is accounted for by the incidence of knee injuries - i.e. it isn't the sports that lead to bad knees, but the injuries that happen as part of the sports.  There is a big difference

If you exercise but do not get injured then you are golden.  You get the benefits.

So exercise but do it safely.  This has made me think yet again about keeping safe as I train especially as I get older.  There is no point in risking injury.  My recreational activities may involve some risk, but my exercise never should.

In 2008 I had a post up: Primum non nocere  in which I was getting at the same idea,

Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means "First, do no harm." The phrase is sometimes recorded as primum nil nocere.

It is one of the principal precepts all medical students are taught in medical school. It reminds a physician that he or she must consider the possible harm that any intervention might do.

In particular, as John Sifferman has pointed out , we need to avoid stupid ego driven training.  In response to the video below he noted:

 I have a friend who owns a CrossFit gym and he told me new CrossFitters have about a 2 year training career before they have to quit due to injury.

What is the point in that?

So to the painful video.  This is not exercise.  This is not safe.  This is stupid.  As John says:

  • Dropping barbell on head – check
  • Filing down teeth from excessive gritting – check
  • Knees bowing inward/outward during jerk catch phase of the lift – check
  • Breaking spinal alignment – really check!
  • Hyper-extending neck – check
  • Nearly being crushed by barbell – check
  • Trying to do something again that you clearly couldn’t do the first time – check
  • Not paying attention while barbell falls to the floor – check
  • Bent elbows during the clean portion of the lift – check
  • Lifting weights that are clearly too heavy for you – double-check
  • Nearly killing oneself in the pursuit of better health – check


Craig Hirota said...

when has competition ever correlated with a quest for 'better health'? I compete (not very well in the grand scheme of things but it's what I consider fun) in powerlifting and on a limit lift, I likely break some of Sifferman's 'commandments'. So what? If I were after 'better health' I wouldn't be continually questing for greater 1 RM's in the competitive lifts. IMO, crossfit does alot of questionable things but it sure seems like alot of 'fitness gurus' are treating a competition video as if it were a training video.

Milan Stolicny said...

The key to preventing injuries and being injury free is in consistency. If you run regularly and than have a longer brake from running, you need to resume running very cautiously with low intensity and slowly build it up back to previous level. Same with weights. I usually tell my eager clients who want to lift heavy weights to get results fast, than they have to deserve to lift heavy weights.

So how do they deserve it? With being there, being consistent and very slowly increasing intensity. And than, and only than, they can try to lift heavy weights, without injuring themselves. It's a sensitive issue and many people don't get it.

Anonymous said...

This video circulated amongst our crossfitters as how NOT to lift. This isn't Crossfit, it's an embarrassment. I wonder if the owner of the franchise is a certified crossfit trainer?
I concur about injuries keeping one from exercise, but in the 2 1/2 years I've been doing crossfit, I've only heard of 2 people having injuries. I'm just stronger and fitter from it.

Chris G said...

Whats with the change of grip after picking up the bar?

I went to a crossfit affiliate for 3 or 4 months. I enjoyed the metcon stuff especialy because to start with the training took place outside in the local parks fitness trail. Once we moved to some premises though we began olympic lift training. Problem was it was taught by someone who had only done it on a 2 day cert using a broomstick. I left at this point, never regretted it.

Chris said...

I think they are doing continental cleans - do a you tube search and you will find a few videos

Jason said...

Check their hands.
The intention, seems to be, to do a clean; but they are starting off with a deadlift type grip.
Bless them.

Chris G said...

That was my point. They have either been coached to take one hand off the bar whilst cleaning with a alternate grip or they havent. If they have then the coaches need to correct the trainees rather than whooping about how good they are. If they have coached it that way the coaches need to go back to school.

Todd said...

While plenty of the criticisms of this video are valid, these athletes are actually performing a continental clean using axles instead of normal olympic barbells. A normal clean is not possible because the bar is too thick and does not rotate.

Axle clean & press is a common movement in strongman competitions. Better example:

Sifter said...

More than half of them would be better off running sprints and LSD for 'metcon' and to get rid of their double digit bodyfat. Look at some of these folks.... Olympic lifting is the last thing they should be doing IMO.

yolio said...

I don't know anything about this gym or video---but, it looks to me like this is really more a mental exercise than anything. What I see is that they have intentionally been given more than they can handle to show them not to fear failure or fear heavy things. This obviously isn't a good regular workout for building strength, but I do think there is a place for that sort of boundary testing.