Our March member Spotlight is one of our original MCFE charter members, Jenn Konohia! Jenn has an interesting story of coming to CrossFit with an injury that didn’t get better due to actual structural damage in her shoulder. I’ll let her tell the story, but it goes to show that you can continue to train the rest of you when you are injured….
I had a sore shoulder for about 5 years before starting CrossFit. Who knows how it started, maybe years of diving on the ground, lifting at the gym, paddling, work, or too much stirring cookie dough and toffee? It’s hard to say. Performing certain CrossFit exercises, maybe with both incorrect form and too much weight made my pain worse. I thought I could push through the pain, I would modify my workouts but the pain did not get any better. As a matter of fact, it actually got worse.
I tried working with Lee, informally and Robert Kikuchi, formally at Kaiser (both mechanical physical therapists). We tried both mechanical testing and progressive loading, but the problem wasn’t getting better. Robert finally said to go get and MRI and it was found that I had a torn rotator cuff, a frayed bicep tendon and decreased joint space in my AC joint. This led me to a major rotator cuff repair surgery.
As soon as my surgeon cleared me, just four months after surgery I was back at the box working out my legs and abs. Slowly rehabbing my shoulder. Now, 1½ years out from surgery and still doing CrossFit, I occasionally have “funny” feelings in my shoulder. I adjust my workouts accordingly. It has been a slow but noticeable progress back to feeling strong again. And yes, I am feeling stronger again. While my one-rep maxes are not where they were prior to my injury and I am fine with that. My goals have changed a bit. Before I was too competitive and wanted to perform the best in each workout. Now, it is my goal to perform every exercise with perfect form. For example, I have been really working on keeping my chest up with back squats. Better form with back squats has translated to better form with overhead squats (thanks coaches for some great tips). I am noticing that good form in one exercise can translate over to good form in many other exercises. I can kip again, but I would prefer to do strict pull-ups with a new goal of 10 continuous.
Within the last 1½ years, CrossFit has also made me more aware of the importance of stretching and diet. For example hip stretches have helped keep my chest up with squats. Also, The Whole Life challenge showed me that I can kick the sugars if I really want to.
I have been asked if I am back to my pre-surgery activities of paddling, stand-up, and pretending to do triathlons. My answer is NO. Not because of my shoulder though, but rather because my boys are now keeping me busy with their activities and I am now the professional taxi driver and cheering mom.
With that said, CrossFit continues to make me stronger and confident to attack more of my bucket list items. I appreciate the time efficiency of a CrossFit workout. It’s great leaving class just a sweaty mess with lots of endorphins in the blood stream. Believe it or not, I LOVE getting up for the 5 am class – even though I am always late and I probably live the closest to the box. CrossFit pre-injury, during and post injury has been and always will be, a key component to my overall exercise routine.
A few words of advice: always go at your own pace and ALWAYS modify your workout if you cannot maintain proper form. Just because you modify it does not mean you are not getting a workout in. It is better to modify than to have bad form that could potentially lead to injury. Also, an injury to one part of your body doesn’t mean you have to lose fitness of your whole body. The coaches were always good when I first came back at helping me modify to protect my shoulder and still get a great work out. Also, I am continuing to listen to my body and take rest days and modify if needed.
I may not talk too much in class as I am more of an introvert, but I want to send a huge shout out to all the coaches and Pre-Dawn 5 am crew. Thanks for always helping me with form and challenging me to perform at my best mentally and physically.