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Working Through Injury


Working Through Injury

Place your Yellowbelly food order for this Thursday’s Cool Cruel Summer!

3 rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters
35-lb. dumbbell thrusters, 21 reps


Much of Bill’s rehab scaling involved unweighted barbell movements and always full range of motion.

Working Through Injury

We’ve all had injuries of some degree at some point in our lives.  They come with being alive.  It’s easy to try and point blame on the activity responsible for our setback but in reality we can get injured in pretty much anything in life.  I’ve worked with people who hurt themselves shoveling snow, walking in high heels, picking up a couch, mountain biking, raking the lawn, climbing, picking up a patient, running, doing a muscle-up, skiing, etc.  The list goes on forever but the point is that we have to learn to deal with injuries because they’re part of life.

The Coaches at Roots have worked with hundreds of athletes who have suffered injuries that may prevent their ability to do particular movements.  It’s the perfect application of what scaling is all about!  So when we hear that someone has suffered a setback we immediately think how can we scale so they can still get a good workout in.

Bill Kobrin, also known as Joe Oldenslo on SugarWOD, experienced this first hand last year when he tore his bicep.  In his own words, “the tendon detached from the bone and the bicep muscle recoiled to the upper part of my arm. The cause was a life­long history of mobility issues and injuries for which I have a long list of excuses for not addressing!”

For a lot of people that would have been the end.  They would have put their nano’s in the closet and decided that they could no longer workout until the injury was back to 100%, but for Bill he took Nicole’s advice “that just because one limb isn’t working well, you still have 3 other limbs and a midline to work with – that leaves a lot of options in CrossFit.”

After surgery he was restricted from using his arm at all for 6 weeks.  This certainly gave the Coaches at Roots some obstacles to work around but they worked within the parameters set by the doctors and Bill never left feeling like he didn’t get in a good workout.  He continued coming 5 times a week as normal and the Coaches continued dreaming up scaled options that would work his conditioning and challenge him mentally in addition to constantly harassing him about doing his PT rehab homework. 

3 months later and Bill was given the go-ahead to use his arm with no restrictions other than not to over do it, since it had basically been doing nothing for the past 90 days.  He started slow with little to no weight and an emphasis on full range of motion in everything he did.  Sure it was frustrating having to scale things that the rest of his body could do no problem and some days it meant him doing a completely different WOD because of his scaling options, but he stayed the course and began working his way back. 

“I know the “reasons” I would have used to justify not working out for 3+ months but I felt if our coaches were that committed to help me then I had to be as committed to help myself and I especially never would have kept doing the mindless, painful mobility exercises without their support.”

The end result?  5 months after the injury he PR’d his Fran time by 1:16 and if you follow him on SugarWOD you know he’s been PR’ing nonstop ever since.  He has also gained more mobility in his arm than pre-injury and the peace of mind that he can work through setbacks. 

Have you had to work through an injury?  Post your story to comments.

6 Responses

  1. Amy Jo DiMeglio

    6 weeks ago I pulled my hamstring. Being a runner this was devastating! I tried to make light of it when it happen thinking I would be okay in a few days. I was obvious wrong. I went to Charlie and Shane for rehab and massage work and listens to every detail to get me back feeling better. One of the hardest wods I did when hurt was 6 by 400. I was signed up and and saw the WOD and initionally wanted to cancel. I didn’t and instead had to do 6 rounds on the aerodyne bike all out for I think to it reach point .80. I swear to this day that could have been the hardest workout I did. I saw many of people in the past scaling and never realized that sometimes the scaled option is harder than the WOD. Even though I was hurt and couldn’t run I kept running.
    The coaches were awesome and always had a scaled option for me. Learned a lot during the time. Put ego aside and you still can train hard! Thank you roots family

  2. Eric

    well this is relevant… shout to to Stef and Shane who reached out to me this week because I haven’t been to Roots in a while. Hope to get a plan together that will put me back on track.

  3. Pam Walter

    I don’t get it….Bill Kobrin or Joe Oldenslo? I’ve been calling you Joe. Should I be calling you Bill….maybe Billy Joe? Next time I see you, you’ll have to set me straight!!

  4. Googs

    I strained my back just a few weeks before this year’s Open. It was so bad that if I leaned forward just an inch, my lower back would seize up, and it would literally take my breath away. I was pissed/bummed, and emailed Nicole and Ali the next day since I had them as my coaches in the coming days. I just didn’t want to sit on my ass for a couple weeks!
    Nicole said “definitely come in, we’ll figure out scaling. We’ll have you ready for the Open”. Well sure enough, they and all the other coaches tuned my workouts for the next few weeks which allowed me to keep coming in, and rehab the back while still getting plenty of metcon work in. I’ll never forget there was a deadlift WOD, and Ali suggested I stick with 35 pounds for the workout. 35 pounds. Total. For deadlifting. She gave me this look, almost like she was apologizing, but she assured me it was for the best. She was right of course; I mean, shit, when I first injured the back I couldn’t even have deadlifted the 35 pounds. The fact was, I was getting better.
    In the end, come time for 15.1, I PR’ed my clean and jerk — just three weeks after the injury. Ka-POW! Ever since that incident I’ve been a fan of “moving, no matter what”. In general, as long as I’m getting decent sleep and eating ok, I come in 4-5x a week no matter what. If something is super tight or sore, I scale. I just think it’s better to move than not. Matter of fact, just last week at the Friday 5:30, Mike T asked me how I felt and I said “eh, shitty; I’m tired, my back is sore and my shoulder’s tight. I’m just here for the MOVEMENT”. 😉

  5. Ian

    I too have been riding the painfully slow road to recovery after my shoulder injury last fall. Alas, last week I did my firsts power snatch in 9 months and somehow pulled out a new 3-rep max! Another great post. Thanks for sharing Shane!

  6. Christina

    I’m missing the Roots crew! I’ve been able to keep moving through a recent ankle injury thanks to my experiences at Roots. Seeing the coaches work with injured athletes and seeing Dre get after it with an air boot, I felt inspired to keep moving. Even though I was non-weight bearing for 4 weeks it was cool to see how many movements I could do. And working out kept me sane. Thanks!