Being Sick and Working Out

Sick In Bed

Let’s face it. “It” happens, even to CrossFitters. You come to the gym and go to pick up a weight and it feels abnormally heavy. You brush it off as fatigue from yesterday’s WOD and continue to lift. Then, the daily metcon feels really hard, and your score stinks, and something isn’t right.

After the WOD you lay on your back and ponder whether you didn’t eat right, or perhaps you just aren’t hydrated or didn’t sleep right last night, anything but a cold. Let me share the harsh reality with you. You can be a great CrossFitter, do everything right, and still get sick. It happens, so accept it. Everyone gets sick at some time, the key thing is what you do while sick to minimize your downtime.

I’ve worked with many athletes who believe that taking several days to a week off will make them weak as a kitten. Relax. A week off will not impact your strength and conditioning.

So, what’s the right thing to do when sick? What I see a lot a of athletes do is try to pretend they aren’t sick, and throw in a heavy Oly session or a hard metcon thinking that will get their blood flowing, and them back in grove. Sorry, tearing yourself down when your body is already working overtime to heal whatever illness you currently have doesn’t  make sense.

So what can we do to to get past this? Short answer, “REST.”  Longer answer “REST and MOBILIZE.” If you have a fever, please don’t come into the box, you’re contagious. If you don’t have a fever, and want to do something positive for yourself, use this forced “down time” to work on mobility. There isn’t a member of our box who can’t improve the quality of their movement in some capacity.  Coming in for a 30 – 45 minute stretching and mobility session will allow you to focus on problem areas. Tight shoulders, calves or hips? Foam Roll, voodoo band, do the stretching for your problem areas. This will make you move better and more fluidly than before; that way when you do get back at it you will be a well oiled machine. Don’t stress about not working out while sick; you’re resting, you’re working your mobility, and you will be back at it in a few days.

View your illness as an opportunity to work on quality movement. You may surprise yourself with better technique and speed when you come back. Remember, CrossFit is strength, conditioning, and quality of movement, 3 points of a triangle, all are vital for success. To recap – the best things to do when you’re sick is

  • Accept that you’re sick
  • Don’t stress about it, your hard earned muscles aren’t going to deflate
  • REST
  • Drink lots of fluids, eat sound nutrition, use shakes if you have to
  • Work your mobility if you must work out, use this forced down time to positive effect
  • Don’t kill yourself on your first WOD back, ease into it over a few days

Till next time – stay healthy, and train hard!


One Comment

  1. Very sound advice, Coach! I think your post has come out at very timely manner…coincidence, I think not. 🙂 There is definitely a feeling of guilt or being weak, when we miss a workout. Many of us think that missing a workout or two will put us ‘behind’ in our progress and training. When I’ve been injured/sick and put on the ‘recovery program’ ie. mobility and rest, it’s difficult to accept that this is the best path at the time. We think that we can and should, tough it out. Thanks for reminding us that we need to listen to our bodies and our coaches! 🙂

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