Grip it before you rip it.
One of my least favourite things to hear is the story about how CrossFit ruined someone’s shoulders or knees or back etc.
Why? … because it simply isn’t true.
For the most part catastrophic injuries started well before the day they were first noticed and unless CrossFit, the strength and conditioning program , drove the bus that hit you – it was a poorly executed movement or an ignored symptom that led to the demise of a joint.
Knees hurt when you squat? Check out if the posterior chain is engaged the whole time.
Back hurts when you deadlift? Are you squeezing down on the abs as well as arching to find your “lumbar” or are you just arching?
Shoulders hurt in KB swings, pull-ups and overhead squats? Check your shoulder position.
The shoulder position in high rep pull ups can be affected by grip failure.
I watched the CrossFit Games 2012 Regionals Breakdown Event 4 video by Carl Paoli and like most of the video’s from San Francisco it took a while to sink in – months in fact.
Watch it closely especially at 2:07 “Can you get the pinky knuckle over the bar”.
I had a moment on a set of 20 pull ups where I got the pinky over the bar and it felt awesome from the wrist to the shoulder. I have been musing on this for a while now and found that the effect can be quickly identified with some kettle bell swings.
When we grip a kettle bell most people let their pinky hang out of the grip because the space is too small for two whole hands. I call this the monocle grip because if you do it with out the KB and hold it up to your eye…
Have a crack at this:
Do a set of 5-10 swings with only the thumbs and the first 2 fingers of each hand gripping the bell (monocle Grip) .
then contrast that with a set of swings with the Little, ring and Middle fingers of each hand (pistol style) gripping the bell.
What do you feel at the wrists? at the shoulders? This grip helps me achieve an active shoulder and an active wrist.
On pull ups as Carl suggested – keep the pinky knuckle over the bar – that is actually quite tough- as fatigue sets in you go to the strongest grippers to keep you on the bar for a few more reps and that happens to be the thumb and index finger. Try hanging off the bar with a monocle grip and facing your arm pits forward – it is tough like collapsing your ankles inwards and then trying to get your knees out in a squat.
I regularly get quizzed on wrist position in the overhead squat, neutral or extended. I lean toward extended, especially if when you initially grab the bar you get your pinky knuckle as far around as possible this ensures my wrist is active and extended rather than passive and extended.
Grab the bar as you would grab any racquet you plan on wielding one handed – the active wrist is what ties your racquet into the shoulder and it is what will do the same for your barbell.
In an effort to strengthen the “weaker” fingers (don’t call them that when they can hear you) I have been playing with pistol grip pull ups and pistol grip barbell rows. I may even have done a few pistol grip curls.
So there you have it, interact well with your implement( grip it right) and hopefully it will interact well with you.