I recently received a phone call from a good friend of mine to ask me some advice on behalf of his partner as to whether she should continue with her CrossFit training.
She has been doing CrossFit for around 12 months and has has had Patella Tendinopathy for the last few months and decided to go to her Doctor for some advice. He “diagnosed” her as being hyper-mobile and told her that she should stop doing CrossFit.
Before we go on, let’s expand on what “not doing CrossFit” means. On top of the obvious no squatting (which is what I assume he was trying to eliminate), her Doctor is telling her not to row, run, box jump, pull-up, push-up, sit-up, clean, jerk, snatch, skip, you get the idea. He is also assuming that her gym will not modify, scale or substitute her workouts. So for a Doctor to wipe out all of these exercises and their benefits in one fell swoop for a patient that presented with an issue that is reasonably isolated and easily mitigated is nothing short of shocking.
During her visit to the Doctor, no questions were asked with regard to how much she was squatting and for how many reps and sets, he did not witness her technique, he has no knowledge of how she is coached and fault corrected or the volume of training that she undertakes currently and prior to starting CrossFit. He asked no questions with regard to her quality of nutrition and if she had tried any self remedies like myofascial release, massage, stretching etc. He also has no knowledge of whether she warms up and cools down appropriately when squatting or otherwise.
So, for this Doctor to simply assume that her Tendinopathy was caused solely by CrossFit and that the only solution to fix it is to stop CrossFit altogether is a huge F#cking leap in my opinion.
There are thousands of details that could contribute to her Tendinopathy and even if it does relate to hyper mobility the fact that the Doctors first port of call was to stop all CrossFit blows my mind.
The problem with this situation is that most people who undertake exercise for general well-being don’t have enough knowledge of anatomy and physiology or exercise science to know whether they are receiving sound advice, which forces them to take the Doctors word as gospel.
This might blow your mind but Doctors don’t know everything about everything. Just like there are bad mechanics and accountants, there are also bad Doctors.
Don’t get me wrong, on the whole Doctors provide the community with a service that literally saves lives and most of them are to be commended for undertaking a profession that has such a profound positive, however to assume that every Doctor is created equal is as ignorant as to assume that ceasing CrossFit is the only solution to fixing Patella Tendinopathy.
So what should I do if I have a an injury that I think relates to my training? Start with the most obvious solutions. If I have a head ache I’d start by having a big drink of water rather than immediately assume that I have a brain tumor. In the case my friends partner, I advised her over the Christmas break to foam roll her quads and ITB’s frequently. If I was a betting person I doubt that she has done that enough, or even at all.
All too often people are looking for the dramatic fix when a lot of the time the simple stuff is the best place to start and works really well.
If the most obvious solution doesn’t work (assuming you actually did it), then step it up a notch. If you don’t have the knowledge to know what that next step is, ask someone with suitable qualifications and experience for their advice but never lose sight of the fact that these people are there to provide you with a service that is acceptable to you. You set the terms. If their service does not provide you with an outcome within a relative time frame, then you should look elsewhere.