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Functional Movement and CrossFit

 

Functional Movement

In my first post, I mentioned functional movements (link) as one of the most important components of CrossFit.  Functional movements sound complicated but they’re just natural, compound body movements that use multiple joints in your body.  Think about when you have to squat to pick up a large box, carry something heavy up several flights of stairs, kick a ball during your sports match or sprint to a base. Most of these physical movements involve load, distance, and speed. CrossFit training is designed to help develop skills to improve the human body’s capacity to perform when those high-intensity movements are required.

Here’s a word you might not have heard before proprioception. This fancy word refers to your own awareness of your body in space, or your sense of your body, its strength and all its components in relation to your movements. Your proprioception is affected by and changes through CrossFit training because the exercises you do focus on balance and agility, which lead to a strong athletic baseline. 


Practicing a broad range of fitness skills so that you can be physically ready to handle an unexpected challenge is part of what CrossFit is all about. In combination with the community that happens when people do these workouts together, CrossFit at its core is about optimal fitness in a positive, encouraging atmosphere.  (Side note:  the community-based culture of CrossFit is a reason many people enjoy it so much, and I look forward to sharing more of my own experience with it down the road!)

We’ve just started to scratch the surface of what CrossFit is all about. Now that we’ve gotten a little bit of the scientific part out of the way, I’m excited to delve more into the fun parts, including all those weird words. No, WOD does not refer to your chewing gum.

But back to the science part for just a quick second. The abilities of the human body are stunning – between bones and muscle groups, cardiovascular capabilities, how your blood pressure and body fat can change and so much more -- that’s part of what led me to physical therapy and orthopedics. But I digress…

See you next time for more on WODs (the workout kind) and scalability. 

Aaron Hewitt PA-C is a Physician Assistant with OrthoCarolina’s Sports Medicine Center. He is a former Assistant Athletic Trainer with the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) and is an orthopedic provider for UNC-Charlotte and Myers Park High School. He also is a Physician Assistant Team Lead for Sports Medicine, Spine, Hand & Pediatrics and a Clinical and Surgical Preceptor for Physician Students. In addition to CrossFit, Aaron is dedicated to running, yoga and clean eating.

 

Comments

Thanks Jenny! I get this question a whole bunch. My answer: “It depends.” Let’s first start by discussing the rationale. There are 2 main ideas on why one should avoid deep squatting. First, there is a cadaveric study from the 1960’s that suggests that deep squatting leads to increased laxity of the knee ligaments (primarily the cruciate ligaments). It was a cadaveric (ie dead person) study and has later on been shown thru numerous other studies not to be the case. But in the 60’s, the American Medical Association jumped all over this study and made a blanket recommendation to avoid deep squatting. This gained traction and perpetuated the myth. The second argument against the deep squat is that the deeper you go in to your squat position there is a linear rise in the amount of pressure in the patellofemoral joint (where your kneecap sits in relation to the femur). This is a good study and the evidence here is solid. But, like every study I read, correlation does not equal causation. If you have a condition known as “patellofemoral pain”, “chondromalacia”, or “lateral patellar compression syndrome” than you fall in to this category. I usually recommend against deep squats to these people. Without knowing your exact knee problem and without examining you I would say this: If you are dealing with anterior (front/patella) knee pain, early articular cartilage disease, or have a history of ligament damage/reconstruction deep squatting probably isn’t the best option and you should use caution. I would tell my family member to avoid it. But to date, there has been minimal literature that makes me believe that deep squatting using correct form (weight on heels, upright chest, bar over heels) in a healthy, well aligned knee is problematic. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11194098 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11949662
- OrthoCarolina
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Hey Aaron! Sorry my comment is somewhat unrelated to this article, BUT, I met with a dr. today (yes at Orthocarolina) and he mentioned that no one should ever be squatting below parallel. As you know in Crossfit, we are required to squat just below parallel so I told him I was going to pose the question to you...do you think it is ok to squat below parallel?
- Jenny
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Great article!
- Nate
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