Last July, Katie Harper moved to Brooklyn from her hometown of Columbia, Maryland to become a student in Long Island University’s physical therapy program. Katie has been an athlete since she can remember, starting with lacrosse as a wee second-grader, eventually dabbling in field hockey and track, and currently holding down the game of racquetball (any challenger on the court is welcome, she says). Though her present journey toward becoming a physical therapist doesn’t leave time for many things other than studying and grasping peoples’ calcanei, she found her way to CFSBK shortly after her move, committing to her training and the community almost immediately. If you’ve ever shared a bar with her, you know her pixie shape belies her absurd strength, and that her squat is pretty enough to make anyone drool.
Unfortunately, Katie got injured at the end of 2013 and hasn’t been in group classes during her recovery. Given what she’s studying in school, we were curious to hear how she’s handled her injury and if she had any advice for fellow CrossFitters whose training might have been derailed by a system malfunction. Her thoughts are below.
Notes on an Injury from a Physical Therapy Student who CrossFits
By Katie Harper
It was approximately mid-December when I first decided to hop on the pain-train. I was nearing my one-year CrossFit anniversary and I was just another young, invincible athlete with PR fever. I was working out more than five times a week, sometimes twice a day. Needless to say, delayed onset muscle soreness was my middle name. Sprinkle in some recovery days here and there and I was good to go for the month. Little did I know, I was one push press away from a partial rotator cuff tear and a long road to recovery.
As a first year student of Physical Therapy, I should have known better. Sure, I was learning all about pain and inflammation, muscle recovery, and range of motion; but it took until I was lying in an MRI bed to really be impacted by the information. Suddenly, I was in a position where my educational career was on the line, and if I needed surgery to restore my shoulder, I would be set back an entire year in the program. The feeling was terrifying, and I can imagine I am not the only one in this world who has had to put their life on-hold as a result of an injury. I suddenly felt a sense of empathy for those who were in situations less fortunate than I.
It was in this very moment that I realized how important a healthy, functioning body really is and how badly I wanted to do everything in my part to get better. So what did I do? I sought out therapy, took some time off at the gym, and found some alternative forms of fitness. As hard as it was to separate myself from the community that I’ve grown to love, I knew it was the best decision to ensure an optimal recovery. Thankfully, I am happy to say there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.
Of course, I didn’t arrive at all of these conclusions on my own. In fact, I owe a lot to CFSBK for helping me. From the moment I walked through these doors I noticed there was a different vibe about the gym. Of course, I was continuously impressed with the coaching expertise and instruction. But what I noticed the most was the gym’s ability to breed mature athletes, who are committed to lifelong fitness. That is the one principle that I now hold above all other goals. It is not the fact that I can say I did Fran in three minutes once in 1999, or that I squatted 4-hundo one stormy night at open gym; it is that I am physically capable of doing CrossFit or any form of fitness for as long as I want and when I want.
So if there is anything you want to take away from this at all, just hear my advice. If there is something that doesn’t feel quite right, get to the root cause of the pain and address it as soon as possible. Whether it be a soft tissue injury, joint mobility problem, or something else, seek the help you need before it starts to affect your function. If you feel it can be managed inside the walls of CFSBK, awesome. Have a look at that blue and white spotted book hovering over the foam rollers. Kelly Starrett, the Supple-god, will guide you through all the tricks of the trade when it comes to self-maintenance and mobility. Inka and Fidler are pretty fabulous as well!
For those of you who are going through something similar to me, I understand how frustrating it can be. Gains in the gym will be lost from time to time. Trust me, I try to remind myself every day that my biceps won’t deflate like balloons over night. Just think of it as an opportunity to wipe your slate clean and fill it up with new and exciting efficient motor patterns. Doesn’t that sound fun?! So if you’re feeling like you need to reach out to someone, just know that you are not alone. In fact, there are a lot of us out there, perhaps you’ll see us lurking by mob-mat, longing for DROMs and barbell drills. Guilty as charged.
Pilates at 7:30pm with Kristin H.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Coach Jeremy! In case you missed our interview with him last week, check it out and learn even more reasons to appreciate this man.
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