3..2..1..REST!

Recently, a discussion started on MyFaceSpaceBook about taking a week off from CrossFit. Some people loved it because they felt like they came back stronger, while others hated it because they were sore and winded the first day back. So what’s a CrossFitter to do when it comes to rest and recovery? For most CrossFitters, you do an ok job thinking about short term rest/recovery, but a crappy job thinking about long term rest/recovery. 

Why?

First, why is rest important? Well, you don’t become stronger or faster IN the gym. Wait, what? Yes, you are lifting weights and running around like a looney tune lifting barbells and doing pull ups (kipping or butterfly most likely), but your body actually  becomes stronger/faster OUTSIDE of the gym. Your body adapts to the stressor of working out and adapts to that stress. Another word for this is hormesis, and can apply to any adaptation your body makes when encountering a stress. Ever get a flu shot? That’s hormesis. A little exposure to a stress can create a positive adaptation, while an acute or prolonged stress can be detrimental. Waaiiittttt a minute, if working out is a stress, and a prolonged stress can be detrimental, then why are you working out 5 days a week, 52 weeks in a year, year after year? Probably because you just didn’t realize you need longer rest than you thought. Or you like socializing at the gym and showing off your butt in those Luluapples.

What You’re Ok At

When it comes to immediate rest and recovery you’re usually pretty good. After a 25 minute metcon, this may include lying down on the floor panting, stretching, foam rolling, a proper meal, massage, etc. It will also include sleep (you’re getting 8+ hours, right?) and again, proper nutrition throughout the next day. Maybe you’re blasted after a particular WOD and you need two or even three days off. We’ve all been there. CrossFit.com even programs a 3-on/1-off schedule so that you can hit workouts with maximum intensity. For some, this might be a 2-on/1-off or even a 1-on/1-off schedule depending on your needs. If you like your weekends, maybe you do 5-on/2-off. The point is, day to day, CrossFitters are generally ok with getting the rest they need. 

What You Suck At (and what you should be doing)

You don’t think in the long term. CrossFitters tend to be pretty myopic and can only see the sexy metcon in front of them. Unfortunately after a year of this, suddenly they plateau, don’t get stronger, faster, better, and then blame people like me for not getting them better. Hold the phone!

You need to rest long term FOR the long term. Taking a week off from high intensity training every 4-6 months is a GOOD thing physically, psychologically, and physiologically. Now, this doesn’t mean you should order Pizza Hut and go on a week-long Charlie Sheen binge. Instead, feel free to go for walks, skip some rope, foam roll, work on mobility, work on your goats, and keep being active. Just resist the urge to do those 20+ minute metcons that deplete your glycogen, hammer your neuroendocrine system, and generally just drain you, even if you feel that “CrossFit high” afterwards. Yes, you might come back a little winded, but many people find they are actually STRONGER and definitely feel better with a vacation from CrossFit.

In addition, you should build some lower intensity weeks into your schedule. So every 6-8 weeks, do a week using half your usual weight, or half the distance, or half the reps, etc. This way, you can still feel like you’re getting a good workout, but not constantly taxing your system the way it’s used to. Remember, if you’re experiencing the same high levels of stress, your body will adapt and plateau. You need to change it up. (keep it…constantly varied)

Caveat

Long term rest is going to depend from individual to individual, primarily because of two reasons: workouts and lifestyle. If you are primarily strength training and have low stress in your personal life, you may not need to take an entire week off. However, you SHOULD be fluctuating your intensity over the months. This is a very common thing for athletes and those in competitions: cycling through an off-season/in-season, all with the intent of peaking at a certain time. Even if you are not competing, train like you do. 

Those who do your classic 20+ minute metcons and have a busy personal life can definitely benefit from a week off every 4-6 months. Again, it doesn’t mean that you’re doing nothing, but it means you have to stay away from the glycogen-demanding workouts.

Lastly, I think there’s something to be said about taking a break to do other things. I’m sure there are hobbies you like to do, or family to spend time with. This is the ideal time to hone those skills or spend quality time with loved ones. Or if you’re bored, you can come cook me dinner. So, are you ready?

3..2..1..REST!

Grassfed Direct – a la carte health

Our gym (CrossFit King of Prussia) participates in the Philly Cow Share program where a group of people go in together and buy a grassfed cow. This helps the farmer and distributor by only needing to make one shipment run to us, and the members get a great deal on grassfed beef by technically buying in bulk. People usually end up with an eight (about 43lbs.) or even a sixteenth of a cow and get a range of ground beef, steaks, roasts, etc. But what if you don’t want that much cow or don’t have a group to go in on a cowshare?

Enter Grassfed Direct. Located in Tacoma, WA, the company was started by …:::dun dun:::… two CrossFitters who were talking one day about where to get grass fed beef. Brian Haynes and Andrew Imholt decided to start their own company in 2010 and this is the result. You can choose individual steaks, roasts, ground beef, etc. where there is no minimum to buy. Their cows are 100% grassfed AND grass finished (did you know that some farms will feed their cows grass for most of their life, but then grain feed them the last few days to fatten them up?? Tricksters…)

I know what you’re thinking: their price per pound is high since they are selling individual items. Not true. 1.14lbs. of ground beef is $7.98 ($7/lb), four burger patties are $8.75, and a medium top sirloin steak (1.17lbs) is $14.07 ($12.02/lb). These are very competitive prices, even compared to cow share programs and definitely compared to local markets, at least in the Philadelphia region. And if you compare prices, they aren’t that much more than grainfed beef!!

One of the best things that I read on their website was a FLAT shipping rate of $20 to out of state customers. Theoretically you could order 1000lbs. of beef and it would cost $20 to ship across the country! That’s crazy to me and frankly, you should take advantage of it because I can see this changing. If you happen to live within 50 miles of Tacoma, you can get FREE shipping for orders over $40 (as of the time of this writing), and if you live even closer, you can pick it up directly. If you live any closer than that, you’re probably the cow. 

I have absolutely no affiliation with these guys, I am just trying to get you good information about healthy sources of food. Of course, if Andrew and Brian happen to read this and want to send me some “samples,” I wouldn’t stop them. In fact, I would do a review post! The fact that they are CrossFitters and have a passion for grassfed beef is a match made in heaven. 

Shoulder Surgery – Arthroscopy Pictures

How I Dislocated my Shoulder at the ACT Garage Games

X-Ray and MRI images

Going in for my shoulder surgery, we thought the problem was a torn labrum, but it was actually a different piece of cartilage attached to the glenoid that was torn and giving my pain in certain overhead positions. For those going through similar issues or just interested, here’s a recap of my day through surgery.

4:00am – Wake up and shower using antibacterial soap (Dial) and leave by 4:45am. Was not allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight.

5:30am – arrive at Penn Presbyterian Hospital and check in. Everyone I encounter asks for my name and birth date, presumably to make sure I am who I say I am. 

6:00am – get settled in Short Procedure Unit, change into medical gowns. Nurse had me sign some paperwork and more people ask for my name and birth date. I start to tell them before they even ask. 

6:30am – hop into a gurney and head up to the anesthesia/prep room. There’s about a dozen beds on the perimeter of this room, but not all are filled. Lots of doctors and nurses either helping patients or waiting around checking their Facebooks or talking about their night out. 

6:45am – Head anesthesiologist introduces himself and, wait for it….asks for my name and date of birth. Then explains that I have 3 options for anesthesia:

  1. general anesthesia – will put me completely under and require a breathing tube. Side effects will include grogginess, possible vomiting, etc. for the rest of the day.
  2. general anesthesia plus a nerve block – same thing as above, but with an additional local nerve block to the right arm. This is similar to going to the dentist and getting local anesthesia. 
  3. nerve block only – no general anesthesia, just the local nerve block. This would mean I would be awake during the procedure, but would not feel the work being done.

The doc said that he definitely recommended the nerve block either way since it would help with pain management the rest of the day. He said some people wanted general anesthesia just to make it easy and so they didn’t have to think about anything. Naturally I declined. Being able to watch my own surgery, are you kidding me?? Of course I want that! He followed up by saying he doesn’t offer it to everyone, so I took that as a compliment. I guess for some people he WANTS to put them down so they aren’t a pain to deal with. Pun intended. 

During this time there were a ton of people to come over and chat with me. Residents, nurses, nurses’ assistants…They all had their own function and role, even if it was just to observe.

During this time I had an IV inserted and an oxygen tube in my nose. Although I wasn’t getting the general anesthesia, I did receive a mild sedative that made me feel like I just had a glass of wine. After this, the doc gave me the nerve block by using an ultrasound on my right trapezius to find the bundle of nerves to hit. Using a needle with what looked like a massive amount of liquid, he injected it in a few spots. My arm started to tingle, much like it does when it falls asleep, and pretty soon I couldn’t move it. This definitely made me appreciate what paralyzed people go through since I could see and try to move my arm, but simply couldn’t.

7:45am – the scheduled time of my surgery. I was wheeled into an OR where there were about seven or eight people working on me. I felt like a celebrity. I was moved onto a table that folded up to be more like a dentist’s chair which was actually very comfortable. After discussing what kind of DSLR to get (surgeon was leaning towards Nikon) and what Pandora station to put on (classic rock), we got started. 

8:16am – Start of surgery.

A TV monitor was positioned to my left so I could see what was going on. The surgeon and nurses were behind and to the right of me, where my right arm was propped up. They placed a number of cloths to the right side of my face, presumably to keep me from glancing over and also to probably prevent any blood spatter. (any Dexter fans out there?) I didn’t see them make the three incisions (2 anterior and 1 posterior), but I did see the view of the camera that went into my shoulder. Below are the images and what each of them means. Like I said in the beginning, we thought going in that it was a labral tear which is pretty common, but it was actually a piece or articular cartilage attached to the glenoid, very close to the labrum. The camera went in from the back of my shoulder, so you can see the shoulder socket to the left and humerus (arm bone) to the right. 

During the procedure, I did get a little nauseous, but the anesthesiologist put a little something in my IV which immediately alleviated the feeling. Other than that, I was pretty coherent and talking with the surgeon about what he was doing. He was just as surprised that the tear was not in the labrum, but seeing the flap as dead as it was, he took it out and did the best he could.

9:05am – End of surgery (Total time: 49 minutes)

After patching me up, I was sent to the recovery room for about a half hour and then back down to the Short Procedure Unit. The surgeon came down and explained that he’ll need to talk with his colleagues and determine what the next plan of action is. He said if we keep things the way they are, movements like pull ups or even push ups are not looking great even after recovery. However, he is going to talk with some people about the possibility of cartilage transplant from my knee to the cavity in my shoulder. He said even this would be tough due to the angle which he’d have to work. Basically I need to meet with him in a week and probably go through PT first to see how I’m faring.

11:00am – Left hospital.

When I left, I was given a sling  and prescription for 3 meds: Percocet and Oxycodone for pain management and Cefadroxil as an antibiotic. I was also told to ice, but from reading various points about icing and actually stalling healing, I kept that to a minimum. I only iced twice and it was the afternoon of the surgery for about 5 minutes each. I did take the Percocet for Day 1 and 2 to stay ahead of the pain, but the worst I felt was some soreness. Whether this was related to the drugs or not, I’m not sure.

    

By day 2, I was able to walk around without the sling, but would wear it just to prevent accidental arm raising or bumps from people. I imagine I’ll wear it anytime in public for a few weeks for this reason. For now I’m not supposed to do any self-PT until my follow up meeting next week. I’ll try to keep you updated if anything major happens.