A Bit of Prehab Work


How do you give people CrossFit while fixing their movement issues?

Angelo Sisco, the owner of O’Hare CrossFit and a co-owner of CrossFit Hardwood Heights, explained many members don’t come in 15 minutes before class to foam roll. He said they also don’t typically do any extra mobility at home.

The Affiliate spent over a year working with Ryan Debell of The Movement Fix and Dan Pope of Fitness Pain Free on CrossFit programming.

While Debell and Pop had “unbelievable” ideas when it came to fixing movement issues, Sisco wondered how to implement the concepts at his own gym. “How do you do it practically in a CrossFit class when you have a class of 15 people coming in?” he said.

It took a shift in Sisco’s programming to find the answer to this question. For the past eight months, members start class with a warm-up that gets their bodies warm. Then comes the prehab work.

Defined as a proactive approach to avoiding pain and injury, the prehab time is focused on solving movement issues for the specific strength work that day. For example, if it’s front squats, members will be put through skater squats, lateral lunges/squats and wall slide progressions. Through these, members are forced to think about details like creating contact with the floor, said Sisco.

The prehab work isn’t chosen at random, however. Sisco said whenever a new member joins, he or she goes through a Functional Movement Screen and a Y Balance Test. A GoogleDoc spreadsheet allows Sisco to view what these tests have told him about his various members’ mobility and movement issues. From this, he builds his programming to see what problems he can address during the daily, one-hour workout.

Over the past eight months, Sisco said he has seen dramatic change in his athletes. They now have better movement patterns. And it all comes back to the change in his programming. “You mobilize, and then you have to activate it,” he said.

Before starting the prehab work in the WOD, Sisco said Debell and Pop came out to give his Coaches a two-day seminar on the subject. Although adding the prehab focus has required a little more effort from his Coaches, Sisco explained it forced his Boxes to systematize for the better. For example, breaks between sets of back squats are now timed. “It’s provided a better environment for people to really get everything they need in,” said Sisco.

And the largest benefit of the systems is quality control. “With the bigger gyms get, and the bigger Affiliates get, the 9 a.m. and the 5 p.m. class need to get the same product,” said Sisco.

To implement prehab work within your Box’s WODs, Sisco said to start by looking outside CrossFit, at areas such as physical therapy, and find out where they see the biggest movement issues. He suggested starting with a focus on glut activation and posture problems.

Ultimately, prehab work is simply another way to stand out in a saturated market. “Right now with the amount of competition out there in the fitness industry, you can’t afford to be slacking on your game,” he said.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.