It’s a common thread among people who join the CrossFit culture: They become so amazed by their workouts and progress that they pay no heed to the warning signals their bodies send. Those signals may indicate that they need to take a step back … or else they’ll be left looking at the box from the outside.
Injuries don’t have to be a part of CrossFit. However, they can and do occur, especially among newbies and those who simply choose to repeatedly overdo it. While it can be easy to adopt a “no holds barred” mentality to every workout session, it just isn’t practical or advisable.
Fortunately, there are several red flags that you can use as gauges. The red flags may be subtle, though, so pay some heed to what your body is telling you.
Red Flag #1: It’s Taking Longer and Longer to Recover from a Workout
You go to the box on Monday morning, and although you used to feel perfectly fine by Tuesday afternoon, you now need at least two or three days to recover from the soreness. This can be a sign that you’re pushing yourself too hard, or using improper form and causing stress on your muscles, tendons, joints and/or spine. Recovering from your workouts is just as important as recovering from a drug addiction. Both require hard work and a commitment to recovery. Though you can still go to CrossFit, make sure you take it a little easier and see if you recover sooner. If you don’t, something else could be at issue, like a low-grade virus or bacterial infection.
Red Flag #2: You Suddenly Start to Get a Ton of Colds
Speaking of infections, if you’re consistently getting sicker and sicker, you may want to scale back on the amount of time you practice CrossFit. Alternately, you can do less each time you attend a Workout of the Day event. Colds are a strong indicator that your body needs rest, not intense cardio and weight-lifting.
Red Flag #3: You Feel Mentally Drained after CrossFit
Remember the good old days of CrossFit when you were totally jazzed after every WOD? Now, you’re dragging yourself to and from the box. This type of mental exhaustion is an indicator that you’re probably overtraining. At this point, it might be a good idea to take a short break from CrossFit and do other workouts and activities instead. That way, when you return to the box and your buddies, you’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle anything.
Red Flag #4: Your Physician Has Recommended That You Scale Back
Yes, it can be tough to hear that you need to be practical or guarded when it comes to working out, but if your doctor is seriously concerned about your health, you should be, too. He or she may notice that your poor posture during some CrossFit routines is leading you toward a path of physical problems. If this is the case, you should take heed and at least ask your CrossFit trainer to give you pointed feedback as to your stance to make certain you aren’t adopting poor form.
Red Flag #5: You’re Losing Too Much Weight
While our culture promotes “quick weight loss,” especially for women, it can be terribly hazardous to your health. If you’re overtraining, your body may literally begin to cannibalize itself. Gross as that sounds, it’s an accurate reflection on what’s happening. While you definitely need to eat more to sustain your energy level, you should probably go to the box less often until you get a handle on this issue. Being skinny isn’t the same thing as being strong. Invest in some ceramic cookware and fill up on some healthy, home-cooked meals.
The bottom line is to always pay attention to what you’re being told by your insides … and outsides. If you take each clue seriously, you’ll be able to adjust your CrossFit experiences as needed and avoid a total burnout.