CrossFit Accessories: When Do We Need Them?August 12, 2017
They are worn by different level athletes, our coaches and Games athletes and: weightlifting belts, knee sleeves and wrist wraps. After a couple of months of CrossFit we are starting to lift heavier weights, and in order to improve we may need help from these accessories.
Are they essential to our performance, if so when should start using them? Can we still lift a significant amount of weight without using any accessories?
What is a lifting belt?
A weightlifting belt is used mainly to increase intra-abdominal pressure against the lumbar spine, keeping it stable under a certain load.
Who uses a lifting belt?
Too many athletes are seen doing an entire workout with the belt when it is meant to be worn only during lifts above 85% of their rep max. If worn too much, the belt detriments the use of the core and its ability to brace and stabilise naturally.
Misconceptions about lifting belts
Two misconceptions which athletes need to realise before purchasing a belt: it won’t prevent injuries and it won’t correct a poor posture or a weak mobility. The athletes who use the belt effectively are pushing their abs against the belt and therefore stabilising their lumbar spine. In that case only one can observe an increase in their lifts.
If we are not sure if we need a belt, then we probably don’t need it. Focusing on getting a tighter core could be more beneficial in the long run than making a hasty purchase.
What are knee sleeves?
Just like the belt, too many athletes thinks it is a cool accessorise to sport. They are great for keeping the knee joint warm which can help prevent injuries. But if we never had any knee pain and start feeling discomfort then we shouldn’t get alarmed and rush to the first online store to purchase knee sleeves. Knee pain can be the resultant of weak hamstrings and glutes or knees caving in while squatting. In that case additional exercises can be prescribed by the coach which are more beneficent than just buying the sleeves.
Who uses knee sleeves?
Athletes use knee sleeves to protect their joints from a past injury which is most likely to re-occur in the near future. They also wear them after training to increase compression and blood circulation as part of their recovery.
Same as for the belt, if we are not sure if you need knee sleeves than perhaps we don’t need them! Some athletes, even professionals don’t wear them at all. If we are unsure, let’s check with the coach or even better a specialised sport physiotherapist,
What are wrist wraps?
They are pieces of fabric more or less expandable which are wrapped around both wrists and used for number of movements especially overhead lifts, pulls, and handstands in gymnastics. It is a piece of equipment which needs to be worn after the warm-up.
Who uses wrist wraps?
Some athletes wear wrist wraps after a sprain or when they feel discomfort while doing a heavy overhead squat. The purpose of the wrist wrap is to support the joints especially when the wrist moves laterally (front squat or snatch position).
Alternative for wrist wraps
Gymnasts who spend numbers of hours on their hands train their wrists for hours. Yes, there are specific movements we can do daily to strengthen the wrist, it just takes time and dedication. Over time, the wrist (hands, and fingers) become stronger and the occurrence of sprain slowly fades away. A wrist wrap is a good solution if we want to still workout with a mild pain but in no circumstance will it prevent injuries, on the contrary, it can only weaken the area by not giving it a chance to reinforce itself.
We do classes frequently and we don’t use any of the CrossFit accessories, is there something wrong with us?
Absolutely not! It is perfectly acceptable to use nothing while we train.
(Photo Credit Exosleeves, Rehband, Red Line Gear)