It isn’t about the Gear

I know I know. One of the most fun things about CrossFit is all the crazy stuff you get to put on when you go to the gym. Skins, special shoes, shirts with funny sayings (many of which I love), gear of all kinds, special jump ropes, stretching devices, belts, socks, headbands, gloves, grips, and wraps. Not to mention we get to mummify ourselves with tape in all kinds of places to look tough.
I list some of those things with a slight bit of sarcasm because I think some of the gearaphication of CrossFit is slightly absurd. But, I also believe in all of life, “to each his/her own”. And I do not judge. Skin it up, tape it up, belt it up, have different shoes and shirts for every type of WOD, do what makes you happy. We only have so much time on this Earth so we have every right to do so.
However, while the gear can make us look cool and feel even cooler (there is a reason beyond my head sweating problem why I own 10 different bandanas), lets make sure we aren’t just masking physical issues we have by using things that aid our movement. I want to pick on a few equipment pieces and talk about the good and the bad to give you all an idea of what I am talking about:
Oly Shoes: I don’t wear em. Goose tells me I need to. My boy and CrossFit star Mikko Salo tells me I need to also. Believers say it helps add 15-20 # on your squat and helps Oly lifts like crazy because it allows you to sit on your heals and feel more stable. Watching Goose lift and move every day I will take anything he says as doctrine. However, when I see people scurrying for their Oly shoes when we are doing wods I cringe a bit. What are your hiding I wonder? Should you wear those Oly shoes when trying to PR your back/front/overhead squat? Absolutely. But do you need them when doing a wod with OHS in it? It might make it easier, but what happens when you hit a competition where the WOD is “Nancy” (OHS and running)? And how about pistols? You are bound to run into a wod with running, double unders, and pistols in it. Then what do you do? Maybe instead of hiding the fact that your squat is suspect because of various flexibility issues, maybe you need to 1) work on the flexbility and 2) do wods with “regular” shoes on to simulate every possible situation. If you can do the workouts without the oly shoes you bet you can do them with them on if the sitaution allows.
Weight Belts: People with legit back problems stop reading. Yes, weight belts make us feel more secure while squatting/pulling tons of weights. And like I said, legit back issues then belt away. But if you are someone who just throws that belt on when the weight gets heavy because you think you need it to make the lift, maybe we need to reevaluate. Like the oly shoes, belting all the time is just masking weakness in the lower back and posterior area in general. On top of this, belting makes it so you are not strengthening this area while doing the lifts. Like any of this gear issue, I am not saying don’t use a belt, just use it only when needed.
Tape: Next to chalk it might be the most used product we have. I tape the crap out of my hands after I tear for sure. Ill tape my leg to keep my scar tissue from rope climbs from getting worse. So like all the above I am not saying you don’t need to tape. Rather I am saying look at what is making you need to tape. Tearing your hands does not mean your just were really intense during those TTB and pullups. Unless you just had to do 100+ of them, or banged out 35 in a row, tearing during a kip means you are rotating too hard and incorrectly with your hands. This usually means your body and shoulder position is soft and not conducive to an efficient kip. If you don’t really know what I am talking about ask a coach about the proper shoudler/core position for kipping. Or just pay attention when we talk about this during TTB and pullup work.
Tape your wrists because of pain during front squats, over head squats, jerks, and cleans? Like the weight belt, this only should be done when a legit injury is the issue. Wrist pain during these movements usually is caused by inflexibility in the forearms and wrists as well as the overhead position. Rather than just tape and suck up the pain, work on your flexibility. Ask any of your coaches for stretches to help these areas.
Heed my advice/warnings. I love funny shirts and bandannas. Those are my gear “things”. Others love LuLu and shoes, or Reebok and Do-Wins. Whatever it is go for it. CrossFit allows us to make leg warmers and male headbands cool again. Just make sure your gear obsessions aren’t masking a bigger issue. If you have a question about a certain piece of gear/equipment and how it might help your Crossfitting….JUST ASK.

Hollow Rock Challenge
90 Hollow Rocks

Front Squat

5 Rounds
7 Squat cleans (135,95)
9 Hand-Release Push-ups
12 Pull-ups

Level 2 (115,80)
Level 1 (95, 45)