Common Calisthenic Injuries

Injuries. It’s the one thing we hate to talk about. They’re the elephant in the room of otherwise able-bodied athletes and weekend warriors. We can dress them up in wraps and tape, apply ice and heat, and otherwise mask these battle wounds… but are we treating the symptoms of an underlying issue, only to have it resurface and become a chronic problem?

Owner of Mindful Movement Physical Therapy, Dr. Jeremy Cohen and I have put together a list of the most common injuries a calisthenic athlete is likely to face, and how to recover from these setbacks with grace and fortitude in a timely manner. Today we are going to explore injury prevention techniques and how to treat the acute or initial phase of an injury, prior the the rehabilitation process.

While we can avoid many injuries with structured programing and implementing the appropriate progressions and regressions, we must occasionally heed to our mortal form. Pattern-overload, compensation, faulty mechanics and even a lapse of judgment can result in a nasty setback that will bring our training to a standstill.

How to Avoid ‘Pattern Overload’

in any physical discipline, we have a tendency to do the same exercises over and over, sometimes for months, if not years at a time. When you consider how many repetitions you perform within a specific plane of motion, its not surprising to consider the wear and tear that develops over time. RSI’s (Repetitive stress injuries) develop when we excessively restrict our range of motion to very select movement patterns. This can lead to soft tissue damage and compromised stabilizers within the joints that are responsible for movement. Proper periodization, and varying training modalities can help keep pattern overload to a minimum.

*During your Training, Keep in mind:

  • exercises should always progress from the most complex –> to least complex movement patterns

  • exercises should progress from those requiring the highest level of movement skill –> to the least demand for movement skill

  • exercises should generally progress from those requiring the least base of support –> to those providing the most base of support

  • exercises should progress from those requiring the greatest cognitive demand –> to the least cognitive demand


How Do We Treat an Acute Injury

Note: Injuries should be evaluated by a trained professional to determine the severity and extent of the issue at hand. If you are experiencing extreme pain and discomfort when performing an exercise, stop immediately. This article is a guildline for mild to moderate injuries and all treatments and rehabilitation should be done under the supervision of a doctor.

Before we can start the road to recovery, we need to remember to use the RICE principles

(R.I.C.E. (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation) in the acute phase (within the first 72 hours of an injury)

Rest: It might seems obvious, but allowing an acute injury to rest is an essential part of the healing process. While we may be eager to resume our training, excessive movement can exasperate an injury, delay recovery and even increase the severity of the trauma.

Ice: Ice works on multiple fronts during our injury therapy. Ice reduces swelling, inflammation and helps calm nerve endings for pain management.

Compression: Compression at the site on an injury reduces swelling, and can increase blood flow to an area to promote circulation and recovery. Compression has also been shown to reduce perceived pain on an injury.

Elevation: Elevation is an important part of injury recovery that is often overlooked. By elevating an injury above our heart, we can decrease pain, swelling, and inflammation that may become present. By minimizing swelling and limiting any internal bleeding, we are greatly increasing our rate of recovery.

After 72 hours, based on our recovery, It can be useful to apply heat and use controlled movement to bring circulation to the affected area.

Once the injury is relatively pain free, swelling has subsided and we have regained full range of motion, its time to do work, ladies and gentleman. Our recovery, more so, our ability to keep an injury from becoming chronic, is rooted in our rehabilitation process. In our next article, we will explore the Top 5 Most Common Calisthenic Injuries, and the exercises Dr. Jeremy Cohen recommends to keep them from coming back!

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