Whether you’re a CrossFit connoisseur, an F45 fiend, OrangeTheory obsessed or dedicated to another High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program entirely, it’s likely that someone you know has experienced pain caused by the combination of speed and free weights commonly seen in HIIT-based workouts. 

When you’re focused on performing movements for speed, it’s easy even for accomplished athletes to lose sight of proper form and movement mechanics. Poor form over time can lead to overuse injuries and chronic joint pain—and these types of injuries are increasing by more than 50,000 instances each year

A Common Example

One of the most common injuries resulting from HIIT training Orthology Physical Therapists Elliott Caponetti and Amanda Rickabaugh see is elbow joint pain, particularly among CrossFitters.

Most patients experiencing elbow pain notice it when they’re in the front rack position, or when the elbows are pointed forward and bent to allow the backs of the hands to touch the tops of the shoulders. This position is used when performing upper-body lifts such as power cleans, jerks and overhead presses.

With these types of lifts, the majority of the force exerted should be placed on the spine and shoulder complex (the joints that connect the clavicle, scapula and the humerus). However, a number of common factors cause more force to be directed to the elbow, instead:

  • Poor shoulder or upper torso mobility
  • Weakness of the muscles supporting the scapulae, or shoulder blades
  • Protracted scapula, or forward rotation of the shoulder blade, often due in part to poor posture
  • Existing shoulder pain causing an individual to consciously alter their form to protect the shoulder

Get Better, Faster

Orthology providers work with you to understand the underlying cause of your specific pain. Then, they provide you with both a better understanding of your injury and a recovery plan that works with your lifestyle to help you accomplish your unique goals. They’re also experts in providing injury-specific soft tissue treatment to help alleviate your pain, so you can get back to what you love doing, faster than ever.

In the case of the example above, the Elliott and Amanda recommend a focus on exercises that increase shoulder and upper torso mobility as well as exercises that promote the stability and control of the scapulae, all without placing additional force on the elbow. A few of their recommendations are:

  • The Side-Lying Windmill, which promotes full shoulder rotation and extension of the upper chest, which works to improve posture.
  • The Push Up Plus performed against a wall, which activates the serratus anterior, a muscle that controls the movement of the shoulder blades, to improve mobility and control of the scapulae and overall posture.

The best way to prevent HIIT-related injury is to practice proper form. But if you do begin to experience pain, no matter the cause or area, your Orthology team is here to help you get better, faster. 

Get back to doing what you love. Book an appointment today.