Re: Top 10 Ways to Avoid Giving a Client Rhabdo
This is an extremely interesting thread. I would like to say Dr Jones and Dr Shaw thank you for all the information. Since this discussion has become so intense allow me to add a few of my own opinions. Also I'll list my experiences and background so you can judge my credibility as well.
I feel that the only reason Rhabdo has become such a big thing in the CrossFit community is because Coach Glassman was honest enough to address the issue before it became a problem. I absolutely agree that Rhabdo is seen way more often in many other sports and military related PT than it is in Crossfit. I have not been part of a "Box" yet, I follow the main site WOD but I say this from my own experience.
From 1996 - 2000 I was a High School wrestler. Our Coach had two PHDís. The man was and still is a walking book. One of his PHD's is in Health the other is in History. During my first year alone we had 10 people drop from the team for various injuries that would not heal during the season. Some of those injuries were Rhabdo. How it happen? Well practice started at 2:15pm and went on some nights till 7pm. Between running up and down all nine stories of our school, weight lifting, wrestling, running some more, and then some more wrestling we had all kinds of injuries. The only thing that qualified this man to coach was the fact that he was an awesome wrestler in his high school and college days. His mentality was "you need to endure and those that can't get cut". I had a fun 4 years and sustained some injuries that my coach said "just work it out, it will be fine" and thirteen years later I'm still working it out and it is still not fine.
After a while I ended up working at a local fitness center in NYC. I was a "salesman" at the place. I was surrounded by "fitness guru's" that charged people way more money than should be allowed by law to do something that every person should know how to do from childhood. These of course were the guys with all the papers to back their knowledge. After a while, without any schooling I began to train people and had very good results. Until this day I have zero injuries under my belt. (Of course this is not the point of me telling you this.) One day at the gym one of these certified trainers gave their client a heart attack. I would like to think that I'm smart enough to see the signs that my client has had enough. I mean some of my clients were very old and did have heart problems, which is why they were in the gym in the first place.
Between the times I left High School and joined the USAF in 2005. I taught small kids and some autistic kids how to rollerblade as a part time job. On and off I still worked as a "trainer" and I also practice BJJ. I did other things too but they are not related to fitness or teaching/coaching so I wonít mention them.
Joined the military and again I saw a bunch of injuries related to training that I had not seen since High School. During basic training all these injuries were labeled "heat injuries". Funny thing was I went to basic in the winter and there was only one day in San Antonio that actually got hot while I was in basic. The other time it rained and it was cold. Still a large number of trainees in our squadron ended up in medical for these "heat injuries". Same thing as in the high school coach mentality we would push or run till we dropped.
Once I became "permanent party", I was once again forced to participate in these horrific PT sessions that really provided nothing for anyone. To make this already long post a little shorter letís just say this also produced several injuries at least once a month someone was injured or disabled to the point of requiring surgery because of our prescribed fitness program and their PTLís (physical fitness leaders). Did I mention this program is designed by some guy that got paid way too much money, talks a smooth talk and has a bunch of papers and titles behind his name?
To make a long story short I ended up running several fitness sessions for the entire squadron. Some loved it, many complained (because they actually worked) and no one got hurt. This got the attention of my superiors and I ended up being the official person to get the "fat boys" fit again. And Iíve been doing that now for the last 3 years. This is before I had even heard of CrossFit; I was working on functional and a natural form of fitness.
I started Crossfit on my own in Jan 2011. I've done every WOD since my day one and I have not been injured. I spent the entire first month doing everything scaled down to avoid injuries and rhabdo. I spend every free moment educating myself in either Crossfit or BJJ. Am I not fit to become Level I Cert and train people in Crossfit? Which I hope to do once I get back home from this deployment and get certified.
What I'm saying is that each individual trainer is going to be different. I could have spent the last ten years in school and know every fancy name for all the bones and muscle systems in our body. But that won't do anything for my approach in how I teach a skill to someone who doesn't have the knowledge I posses. No amount of school can make someone a good teacher/instructor/coach that comes from experience and personality. Don't get me wrong school has its place in everything we do, but it isn't an end-all, beat-all answer to a problem. I agree with Dr. Shaw in that more knowledge would only make people smarter, but I also agree with Dr. Jones in that books won't make good trainers. However, the true Murphy's Law in this case will be in the clients. Clients want good service, being a trainer requires a level of care for each person you train. A good trainer has to know when a person is not 100%, a good trainer has to know when to push someone a little bit more but not over the edge. These things can't be found in a book, every person is different and only experience can teach these things.
Also please don't take my 2 cents the wrong way. I know I may seem negative towards trainers backed by big associations but that is not true. I only mentioned those to drive the point that books don't make a person an expert. There are many good trainers out there with plenty of school backing the same as there are many good trainers out there with no school backing. The trainer reputation and clients should be the judge of his/her skill.
Going back to the Rhabdo issue. I'm no scientist but I think this can be completely avoided with knowledge and an extensive onramp program. I was already in good shape (by normal standards) when I started CrossFit and still I took a full month before I felt confident enough to go head-on a WOD. If people can be taught to listen to their bodies, slow down today so you can hit it hard tomorrow and hydrate this issue would likely go away. The thing is most people who start a fitness program are out of shape to push them too early is to invite injury and problems. I would rather lose training partner because I put them through 20 sessions of skill building, than to lose a training partner because I made them hit it too quick, too hard, too soon.