Tag Archives: Crossfit

Another plug for the benefits of Crossfit, or whatever happened to osteopenia?

This post is long overdue. I have been so wrapped up in rehabilitating my shoulder that I haven’t shared my most recent, fabulous news.

I had a Dexa scan on December 3rd. My Crossfit gym holds an annual ‘Get Fit” challenge, and getting a baseline involved measuring fat mass via Dexa Scan. On that day I found out some very interesting information.

But first, a little history. You see, I grew up in the 70’s when margarine and diet soda were the health foods of the decade. And due to my never-ending fear of getting fat, instead of drinking beer while in college, I drank Tab soda. Tons of it. I stopped drinking soda when I discovered I was pregnant with my first child at the age of 26, so it was a bit of a surprise when I had a bone density scan done at the age of 37 and found out I had Osteopenia.I was flabbergasted and petrified! The fact that I was at risk for developing Osteoporosis was so scary.

I wanted to fix myself. I started running. I became a vegetarian. I wanted those numbers to improve. Enter another bone scan at age 49.

No change.

I wasn’t worse, but I hadn’t gotten better. The scan still showed Osteopenia.

I started taking Vitamin D, but not consistently. My doctors told me that osteopenia wasn’t reversible; at best it just wouldn’t get worse. Because of that advice, I eventually embraced a state of denial and forgot all about being diagnosed with Osteopenia. 50 happened. I went through menopause, moved out to California, and switched from a vegetarian diet to learning about and adhering to a Paleo template. I stopped running and cycling as often and added Crossfit to my life.

My coaches believe in lifting heavy stuff, so that’s what I do. Enter the December, 2013 Dexa Scan.

No more Osteopenia. The doctor was wrong.

A T-score on a Dexa Scan compares the subject to 30 year old adult females.  A Normal T score is 1.0 or higher. Osteopenia is defined as a T-score between -1.0 and -2.5

MY T score is now 1.9.  Not only did I reverse this condition, I vastly improved it. (my Z score was 2.7 in case anyone is interested..)

Most surprising was that I have been post menopausal for 3 years, and yet even without estrogen to enhance calcium absorption, the disease had reversed.

I was so enthralled that my healthy lifestyle of high saturated fat from grass fed sources, organic vegetables and fruits, no grains or legumes, and popcorn once in a while (thats my weakness…so boring!) combined with lifting heavy shit had made my health so much better. I was so excited that I didn’t even care that my Visceral Adipose Tissue ( a strong predictor for Diabetes and heart disease) was only 0.04. My body fat fell into the chart under ‘athletic.’

And I am healthy. Super-freakin’-healthy. I had better get to work on my retirement plan, because according to my numbers, unless I get hit by a bus, I’m not dying any time soon.


Crossfit with a torn Hip Labrum

It has finally happened… my hip gave out.

A car accident 37 years ago changed my life and left me with a fractured hip. The ortho doc that treated me in 1976 told me that ‘IT’ would happen when I was 40. He said that my hip would probably break due to avascular necrosis, and that I should never play tennis.

I followed his directions; did not play tennis, did not develop avascular necrosis, and my hip never did break.

But….a few days ago, as I was pivoting to change direction during a running interval, I felt a red hot searing pain shoot through my right hip. The pain was enormous, and I knew immediately that I was in trouble. The pain was relentless regardless if I was moving or resting. So to rule out a stress fracture, I had an X-ray to be sure the hip was not broken. The pain was familiar, I’d been here before with my other hip.

My labrum is torn.

The pain continued to be immeasurable the first few days after it happened. I got little relief from taking Ibuprofen or Tylenol twice a day just so I could show up at work and not shriek every time I stepped on my right leg. NSAIDS, Tylenol…not really working…

First thought; gotta reach out to Dr. Phillippon, the wonderful surgeon who fixed my left hip. Second and “almost” immediate thought… How would I maintain the level of fitness I have worked so hard to achieve? What am I gonna do at Crossfit??

I spent the next days searching for blogs with advice and suggestions about how to answer those questions. I already knew that I wouldn’t be able to run. I also knew that hip flexion and external rotation combined was a lethally painful, unstable move that was accompanied by a noticeable ‘clunk.’ My search came up empty; just more questions from other labrum tear sufferers that hadn’t had surgical repair yet. So… I decided I’ll blog about my own experiences until I get this fixed.

The first thing that happens with any joint derangement is resulting weakness of the surrounding joint musculature. That meant that I had to actively contract my glute muscles (read: butt) in order to step on my leg. I noticed when I did that, my pain seemed to diminish.

My thought process then; fire my glutes when I work out and see what happens.

This morning I decided to do Eva, a Crossfit benchmark WOD, in my garage.

Equipment available: spin bike, 16 kg kettlebell, and a TRX.

This is the RX WOD:                                                     This is MY EVA:

“Eva”                                                                              “Eva”

5 Rounds For Time                                                       5 Rounds For Time

800m Run                                                                     3:30 Bike                                        30KB Swings, 32/24kg                                                  30 KB Swings, 16 kg                                                              30 Pull-ups                                                                   30 Ring Rows

3:30 is about what a 2K takes me to complete on the bike. I kept my pace constant. Paying attention to my stroke, since I wasn’t clipped in to the pedals, was very important. I was careful not to pull up and engage my hip flexors, but rather use the balls of my feet to push back and get those glutes (hip extensors) firing.

While I did the kettle bell swings, I planted my feet and gripped the floor with my toes, activating external rotation of my hips that really felt good while I did the swings.

I have a shoulder injury from a road bike accident 3 years ago and can’t do pull-ups. (More on that on a later blog). I also have no pull-up bar available..so I modified by doing ring rows with my TRX to work my lats and core, which of course helps stabilize my hips…

I completed the WOD in 35:54, sweaty, tired, happy, almost pain-free and somewhat able to walk….(until I sat for 30 minutes, and the pain came back).

At least my questions have been answered. Modifying Crossfit WODS will prepare me for the labrum repair. Prehab is almost as important as the post surgical rehab.

I’m off to work on modifying some other benchmark Crossfit WODS; stay tuned!

So How Am I Doin’?

I became a Crossfit athlete at the ripe age of 51.

I was that endurance athlete;  a competitive runner, and to give you an idea of my abilities, my mile time at age 41 was 5:42.

For me, it was always endurance. It’s what I was good at. I never felt comfortable in the gym, so I never learned to lift weights. I could never do a cartwheel, so I never tried gymnastics. I could do squats, but not properly. So I ran; many 5K’s, half marathons, and 3 marathons from which I qualified for Boston every time. Then along came the injuries, then the surgeries, and I switched to cycling during my recoveries. After my cycling accident in 2010, (I stopped the road with my body at 23 mph), I could not raise my left arm over my head and I tore my left hip labrum right next to where it was surgically repaired in June of 2009…

When I moved out to Northern California in June of 2011, a little broken and unsure of myself, my tried and true endurance environment was changed. My local running group was no more. I couldn’t find a team like Zmotion doing metric centuries along A1A every Sunday at 7 am. I did try classes at the local gym, but I was bored.

I knew of  Crossfit but was intimidated by what I’d heard about it when I lived in Florida. At this point… I had nothing to lose. I called Chris at Crossfit Moxie, gave it my best shot, and was hooked at the first visit.

So how am I doin’?

It was easy to judge my progress when I was a runner . There are age groups, when you’re over 40 you’re a master, and over 50 a grandmaster. I always knew who I was competing against and where I stacked up.

But at Crossfit I was working out with college students, young mothers with new babies, and not very many girls my own age (not even masters anymore; seniors now!). How was I to figure out how, or even if, I was properly progressing. Running, track and field have age graded calculations. Did weightlifting?

A quick search led me to mastersweightlifting.org. There I found the calculations I needed to determine my own ‘formula.’ Just by knowing my body weight in kilograms, the amount of weight I am lifting, and coefficients corresponding to my age and weight, then I just multiply.

For example:

  1. my 200# deadlift in kg = 90
  2. Sinclair coefficient  (female) = 1.306080
  3. Malone-Metzger age corresponding coefficient = 1.271

‘Formula’  = 90kg x 1.308060 x 1.271 = 149.628 kg.

That’s 328#!

I am interpreting that the effort I take to deadlift 200# at the age of 52 is like lifting 328# in my ‘prime’. So how am I doin’? I’m progressing well, thank you very much!

How are YOU doin’?

Here is the link to the tables for the coefficients so you can use the formula for yourself:


Click ‘forms and formulas’ on the left, and open the Sinclair and the Malone-Metzger formulas.

Happy calculations!

Ellen Bloome, PT


Senior Fitness Specialist

CrossFit-L1 Trainer