The primary objective of a CrossFit Coach should be injury prevention.
That’s how Dr. Theresa Larson, DPT, the founder of Movement Rx, views the role of the Coach in this industry. “CrossFit Coaches have a larger impact on their client’s health than doctors,” she said. “They are around the members more, prescribe nutrition and have a daily social interaction that leads to positive health outcomes. Increasingly, studies show what we as practitioners in the CrossFit community see on a daily basis, that moving well and moving often is the best way to avoid long-term system health issues.”
If Coaches have such a large impact, mobility and recovery education are essential. Especially when it comes to the issue of compensation found in gyms.
Kelly Starrett, the founder of MobilityWOD, explained mobility is first and foremost about having the raw range of motion required to perform your sport or movement. However, Starrett has found athletes are working in compensated positions, shorting themselves on movement to lift the poundage they want.
For this reason, Starrett said it’s key to evaluate mobility education by three points: Is the model predictive, explanatory and reproducible? It comes back to the basics and understanding them. Once you do, you can spot compensation from a mile away, mobilize members to improve their position and thus, allow them to work more effectively, said Starrett.
You can look to the local level for sources of mobility, stability and recovery knowledge, shared Larson. Whether that’s a physical therapist, chiropractor or even massage therapy practitioners, there are plenty of resources out there. She also suggested courses from MobilityWOD, Movement Rx, and Gray Cook’s FMS and SFMA courses.
As for reading materials, Larson said “Becoming a Supple Leopard” by Kelly Starrett and Glen Cordoza is a staple resource to check out. She also mentioned looking into articles by Dr. Stuart McGill or Gray Cook. “The more a Coach knows about movement patterns and the biomechanical tools to fix those patterns, the more a Coach can educate members on how they can live their best lives,” explained Larson.
Oftentimes educating your members is just as important as educating your Coaches. Starrett brought up one example in terms of an error he often sees — doing a hard workout and then being sedentary the rest of the day. “No [horse] is ridden hard and put away wet,” he said. “We don’t do that with cars. We don’t do that with horses. We don’t do that with animals. And yet, we are the only people who sneak in a little run at lunch or brutal deva-session and then go sit in a car for three hours.”
In the end, it comes down to quality movement and educating your members on mobility. “By understanding optimal ranges of motion for each joint, a Coach can then prescribe mobility or stability specific to their athletes that will keep them injury free and increase performance,” said Larson. “Movement quality is the basic principle in living pain free and optimal performance.”