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The Missing Link of the CrossFit Athlete with Dr Jason O'Connor

I am a chiropractor based in Harrogate and Ilkley, North Yorkshire and specialise in the spine and nervous system. I see a number of different cases and patients on a daily basis, from babies and young children through to the elderly, more recently seeing a number of athletes, coaches, fitness professionals and CrossFitters.

When CrossFit HG3 coach Andy Ruddick first attended the clinic, I was keen to learn more about CrossFit, what it was and what it involved, and more importantly how and why CrossFitters were getting injuries.  As my relationship with CrossFit has developed, I began to understand what was happening and what I, as a Chiropractor, and CrossFit athlete and advocate could do to help these individuals.

CrossFit is a way of exercising based around the movements used to function in everyday life; squatting, lifting, carrying, running, jumping, throwing, the list goes on.  The CrossFit programme helps people function better in day to day life.  CrossFitters are often willing to train weaknesses and devote time to skill work.  All the individuals I know through CrossFit are determined, hardworking, have incredible attention to their nutrition, however many seem to lack one important aspect – taking care of their body.  When it comes to treatment and maintenance however, it seems to take the extremes of an injury to make these individuals take action and see a Chiropractor, Massage Therapist or Physiotherapist etc.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning programme made up of constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity that is by design, broad, general and inclusive.  It is scalable for any individual of any age or fitness level.  CrossFit trains the body to function optimally as a unit and efficiency is essential. This means the nervous system must be performing correctly in order for the muscles to respond properly.  The body is designed to self-heal and self-regulate.  If there is nerve interference it affects the innate intelligence of the human body to repair or adapt itself.  When one part of your body become injured or shuts down, everything in your body begins to compensate for the injury, not least making the body less efficient.

Our brain is the master control unit for our whole bodies. The brain sends out signals to the rest of our body via the central and peripheral nervous system. Our vertebrae protect our spinal cord and the nerves exiting the spinal cord. With everyday life, training, trauma, and other activities and stressors, our vertebrae can become subluxated and/or restricted. This in turn puts stress on the immediate surrounding nerves and indirectly affects the innervation of muscles and organs down a particular nerve pattern. This added pressure could cost your body efficiency and reaction time. Fractions of a second are huge in an athlete’s world and could mean the difference between a gold or silver medal or a sub three minute Fran.

Great athletes take good care of their bodies.  If you want longevity in your sport and to perform at your optimal, you must take care of your body. This means you need chiropractic care, soft tissue care, and sleep, together with proper training, advice and nutrition. World wide elite athletes e.g. Tiger Woods, Bradley Wiggins, and Michael Jordan all utilise chiropractic care before and after a performance.

Athletes are the greatest compensators, they will keep performing until something breaks down or they feel pain. Whilst exercise is taking care of your body, it is important to also address the muscles, nerves, and joints that are used during movements.  When your body is not balanced and/or muscles are not firing correctly, this predisposes you to not only a poor performance but injury as well.  Think about the car. The oil is changed and tires are rotated regularly. Why would you not take similar care of your body also? Chiropractic care ensures your body is balanced, vertebrae are aligned, and muscles are firing correctly, so you can function optimally in and out of the gym.

For my athletes that are injury free, I recommend chiropractic once a month, a massage every month, staying on top of their hydration, and sleep often for recovery. Massage helps to normalize the intramuscular gradient by decreasing inflammation and swelling. We are fortunate to have Guardian Angels based at CrossFit HG3 gym who I also work closely with.  The Angels are fantastic and work closely with myself to aid recovery, rehabilitation and maintain range of motion.  Maintaining proper hydration is essential for recovery – both before and after a workout.  Ensuring regular and restful sleep is the optimal environment for growth hormones to do their jobs.  Complete the circle: train hard, eat clean, and get treatment on your body. Keep yourself in the game as long as possible.

Personally I have been going to CrossFit HG3 for the past 18 months and have noticed an immense change in my health and fitness, having previously played Rugby to a high level, I then went onto marathons and ultra-marathons and more recently part of a world record holding team from Land’s End to John O’Groats I now find CrossFit is an integral part of my life.  I also recommend CrossFit to several of my patients – I work closely with the Coaches, working together on rehabilitation, scaling programmes and modifying movements to the patient’s needs.    CrossFit HG3 is a way of exercising, learning new skills, having a load of fun with amazing people, gaining new friends and is potentially lifestyle changing… for the better, all of this in a supportive, family friendly and welcoming environment.

I am always keen to spread the word of Chiropractic and regularly visit local gyms, clubs and societies to give presentations and workshops.  If you would like to find out more information or arrange a new patient consultation and examination with myself please contact me at either of my clinics.

Advanced Wellness Chiropractic, 4 Hawksworth Street, Ilkley, LS29 9DU, info@chiropractorilkley.co.uk 01943 600948

Advanced Health Chiropractic, 12 Cold Bath Road, Harrogate, HG2 0NA, info@chiropractor-harrogate.com 01423 562251

Finally a testimonial from Andy Ruddick; “For the last year I have been plagued by injury and generally not functioning at my best. This was of great concern for me: As an athlete and owner of CrossFit HG3, it is important to be an example of what our methodology to health and fitness can deliver.    From the first week of adjustments I began to feel better, and after only a month my re-testing showed dramatic improvement and this has also been reflected in my performance and personal bests.  One of the most significant, and additional, advantages has been the improvement in my general mood and sense of wellbeing.   I can whole heartedly recommend the services of the Advanced Wellness Chiropractic: the atmosphere is friendly, great professionalism is shown, everything is explained in great detail, and most importantly – I’m getting fixed!”

For more information about Guardian Angels Fitness or CrossFit HG3 – please visit the websites below:

Guardian Angels Fitness:  http://www.guardianangelfitness.co.uk/

CrossFit HG3:  http://www.crossfithg3.com/

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