Monday, June 29, 2015

Healthy Habits: CrossFit

I recently had a chance to interview Dr. Derek Ochiai about CrossFit, a workout that has had a huge surge in popularity.
What contributes to the appeal of CrossFit?  Workouts are intense, but relatively short in duration, so that it can be more time efficient than some other forms of exercise. Since exercises typically are done in a group setting, there is a sense of community and encouragement while doing these exercises.

What hazards does it pose? Because CrossFit has that sense of encouragement and community, that can also lead to external pressure on the participant to push "beyond their limits", especially when someone is just starting out. If one is going from a relatively sedentary lifestyle to trying to get more fit, that person may not know the difference between "being sore" and actually injuring themselves.  Injuries such as tendonitis and muscle strains are common. Also, because someone can fatigue but then go straight to another activity (such as pull-ups), I have seen more traumatic injuries, such as rotator cuff tears of the shoulder and broken bones.

If someone enjoys CrossFit, how can they make sure to do it safely? First of all, if you're just starting out on an exercise routine, CONGRATULATIONS! The health benefits in general of moderate exercise far outweigh the potential for injury. However, if you're just starting out, start slow. You are only competing against yourself, and build up intensity at your own pace, and don't worry about what others are doing. I tell patients who are rehabbing to "bump up against their ceiling (limit)" and feel like they are slowly pushing that ceiling gradually over weeks, instead of trying to "crash through the ceiling" and try to make rapid gains.

Dr. Derek Ochiai is a graduate of Cornell University, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and is fellowship trained in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery. He completed his orthopaedic residency at Albany Medical Center and his fellowship training at the Nirschl Orthopaedic Center and Georgetown University. He is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons and specializes in injuries to the upper and lower extremities including: hip, knee, and shoulder arthroscopy. Dr. Ochiai uses both non-surgical and surgical techniques to help his patients return to their active lifestyles.

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