It’s difficult for me to believe, just over a year ago (this past June) I was recovering from a devastating triceps tear. I say it was devastating, mostly because it was! Back in the spring of 2018 I was eager to keep training for the local “Rep Your Box” CrossFit competition. After 3 years of doing CrossFit and coaching on the regular, I thought it was another milestone I needed to hit on my journey of CrossFit. A competition was WAY out of my comfort zone but I knew I would be ok because one of my teammates was the Ninja. Plus, she and I had been going through the gauntlet of being “Cooper Trained” as a Level 1 Trainer. We now had to put all that training to work by teaching classes daily at the gym.
So there I was…(wink, wink Navy pilots!) in the middle of a training WOD for the competition and I was up first for the movement of box jumps. I needed to complete 25 for my share at 24” in height.
First 5 reps – not so bad.
Next 3 reps – feeling confident.
Rep 10 – what was I worried about?
Rep 14 – getting a little tired, just keep breathing.
Rep 16 – cool, 9 more.
Rep 17 – I can go faster…
Rep 18 – Toe clip!! CRASH!!!
My right toe clipped the front edge of the box jump and my momentum carried the rest of my body forward. Only for this rep, my right leg was not there to land on the box. Panicked, I reached for the ground with my arms to keep from face planting. I landed on the left side of my face as the rest of my body followed with the rest of the momentum. My right arm was able to break my fall. I heard and felt a “pop” with the immediate rush of warmth to the triceps area just above my elbow. I remained stationary for a few seconds awaiting the spicket of blood from my forehead. But the blood never showed up. The only thing bruised at the exact moment was my ego. I was embarrassed and apparently, my big ass makes a loud sound when falling from 24” landing on concrete with my face. I got through the rest of the workout, but my right arm had some redness around the area and something was a little…off.
It didn’t feel like it was injured but it didn’t feel normal. I used some voodoo floss after the workout. But after I got home, my arm never felt right. I woke the next morning and my arm was ‘supes’ swollen. Pushing myself up out of bed did not happen. My right arm gave out on me and I face planted again. This time on a much softer surface of my Tempurpedic mattress.
Ok, definite injury.
My first thought was to recovery enough to still be able to compete at “Rep Your Box”. We knew the first workout was a max snatch, so if I could put up a decent weight, I’d be satisfied. Onward to action! Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate. That was my plan. Learned it from high school football and wrestling back in the 1990’s.
That still works, right?
It seems the physical therapist community and other researching entities have come through with a few discoveries since I graduated high school (sarc).
In all seriousness, CrossFit had introduced me to a few “unorthodox” methods of muscle recovery. I mentioned the voodoo floss earlier. It’s a form of acute compression in certain areas. I had an infrared sauna from years before for detoxification and weight loss.
After learning I had a grade 2 muscle tear in my triceps brachii medius (Ouch!), I knew I lost the ability to put anything overhead; much less with significant weight. I was devastated that I wouldn’t be competing. I felt a huge obligation to the Ninja and my 2 other mates. However the bottomline was, I had a triceps tear and it was serious. As you can see in the pics, it felt just as bad as it looked!
With the help of my chiropractor, massage therapist, and local cryotherapy experts I was able to get tremendous care and understanding from all.
Tools of Recovery:
1) The Marc Pro is a cutting-edge electronic muscle stimulation device that helps muscles recover faster, allowing professional and everyday athletes to perform and feel their best. The technology takes active recovery to the next level with non-fatiguing muscle activation. Recovery is the key to a successful workout or training routine. Proven by numerous scientific studies, active recovery is shown to maximize workout results, prevent overuse injuries, and allow individuals to perform at their best. If you’re training more than a few days a week, it is likely you’re not fully recovering and therefore, not getting the most out of each workout (Marcpro.com, 2019).
2) Ashiatsu Massage is a barefoot massage technique in which the therapist delivers deep, broad, consistent pressure while utilizing their feet and body weight. Working with gravity instead of against it, Ashiatsu therapists are able to provide an effective therapeutic massage without causing pain or discomfort to themselves or the receiving client (Deepfeet.com, 2019).
3) NormatecCompression was created by a physician bioengineer (MD, PhD) to enhance blood flow and speed recovery, the NormaTec PULSE Massage Pattern employs three key techniques – pulsing, distal release, and gradients – all to maximize your recovery (Normatecrecovery.com, 2019).
4) Cryotherapy is an extreme cooling of either the whole body or local areas to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow to damaged areas, and possibly restore nerve damages in certain instances (Healthline.com, 2019).
I used these techniques daily for nearly 6 weeks to help accelerate the healing process. I continued to work out, but nothing overhead or with the use of my arm.
Schedule of Recovery:
A) I saw my chiro once a week for six weeks to get adjusted and for localized treatment for my injury.
B) I completed whole body cryotherapy twice a week and included local cryotherapy to my right arm during those appointments for 3 weeks. For the following 3 weeks, I completed whole body and local cryotherapy once a week.
C) I used the Marc Pro twice a day for an hour each session for 6 weeks for the electronic muscle stimulation benefit.
D) I used the Normatec compression arm sleeves once a day for 6 weeks for its recovery benefits.
E) I saw my massage therapist once every 2 weeks during the injury.
To complete all of this was pure craziness and it did not help me heal in time to compete in the local competition. I did all of this to increase the rate of healing so I could get back to training as hard as I could, the soonest I could.
Just to give some perspective, it usually takes about 6-8 weeks for a tear to the degree I had to heal enough to start adding physical therapy. I was doing physical therapy daily of simple movements and light stretching specifically for my arm. I as training daily for the rest of my body…and mind! I was able to press overhead after 4 weeks of my regimen. It was a light weight and for about 30 reps. I felt I could do more, but I knew this was a marathon with a torn muscle. It was also around this time I could do a push up. I did multiple pushups, multiple times a day. I worked very hard to get my arm back to 100% and it did not take as short as I would have liked.
My plan was not to get injured. I forgot, my plan is not God’s plan.
This pic of me PR-ing my overhead squat was an incredible day for me. I hadn’t lifted that much overhead in a long time and this was around month 7 after my injury. It was also very cool the Ninja took this pic. She knew and saw how hard I worked to get back to “myself”. During my recovery timeframe, I completed the CrossFit Level 2 Course and read everything I could about diet, training, recovery, new methods, and on and on. I regret not competing with some cool ass people at the gym, but this triceps tear put me on the path to become a better coach.
Sometimes I question the past:
If I hadn’t injured my arm, would I be the trainer I am today?
Would I know any more about injury recovery?
Would I know any more about active recovery?
Would I have had the opportunity to become a Level 2?
I don’t know the answers to these questions.
Here’s what I do know: My massage therapist, chiropractor, and cryo spot are great people that I now call friends.
I am grateful they helped me when they did. They all do to this day.
I am grateful for the path I am on and I have absolutely no control of it!
I Hook Grip My Coffee Cups!!
Deepfeet.com (www.deepfeet.com, 2019). Retrieved on 1 August, 2019.
Healthline.com – (www.healthline.com, 2019). Retrieved on 1 August, 2019.
Marcpro.com – (www.marcpro.com, 2019). Retrieved on 1 August, 2019.
Normatecrecovery.com – (www.normatecrecovery.com, 2019). Retrieved on 1 August, 2019.