The Crutch

If you break your leg the doctor will do what is needed to set the bone for proper healing, then give you a pair of crutches to allow the bone to heal. Once the bone is healed the crutches are no longer needed and now the leg can start to gain its strength and endurance back that was lost while using the crutches.

It seems obvious in the example above that the leg not being used may be healing but it will also atrophy over time becoming weaker. When an area of the body is limited or avoided, a peice of of equipment is always used, or the same weight and/or range of motion is always used a CRUTCH has been created.


A real world example I like to use when coaching how and when to use a weightlifting belt is lifting belts used in the work place. In the 1990s, big box companies and other companies that needed employees to lift heavy things were trying to help prevent back injuries and reduce workers compensation claims. Companies started giving employees who had to lift things belts and in the short term claims decreased and there were less injuries. However in the long term more injuries started to occur. The injuries were not happening at work but at home. By wearing the belts all day the midline weakened and strength decreased over time because the belt was doing the work and acting as a crutch. So the crutch would be used at work then not used at home and an injury would happen while picking up the dog food. Instead of giving their employees a crutch, teaching them to lift properly and helping them improve their functional strength through exercise would have been a better solution.

Now we can take these ideas and apply them to our lives and to the gym. Do you always use a belt, a particular pull-up bar, never use a full grip on front squats, only run in a particular pair of shoes, not do pistols, and/or never try that heavier dumbbell? By doing something exactly the same way every time we are not allowing ourselves to adapt and improve. If we always use hand guards for pull-ups we will never build the tolerance to handle pull-ups without guards. CrossFit prepares us for life and life should not require a belt to help your buddy with their couch, pick up the dog food, or lift your kid over your head. You are going to need the ability to do physical things in less than ideal settings. Vary your training and how you train to maximize its functionality and benefits. Constantly varied functional movements at a high intensity.

Live long and prosper,

Do you have any stories about how the gym has helped you in your everyday life or in a crazy situation?

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Berek Bryan