Introduction to Scaling & Progressive development

When CrossFit training is combined with smart coaching it is extremely effective for injury rehabilitation and prevention. It has helped many people with all sorts of injuries. From fractured wrists, disc herniation, shoulder reconstructions, chronic back pain and much more. Now the question most of you might be asking yourself is "CrossFit is pretty hardcore, how can people continue to do this with those injuries?” The answer is two of the most overlooked aspects to CrossFit: Scaling and Progressive Development.

When an Injuries happens

It can happen everywhere and anywhere. But if it happens below is the typical sequence in it will follow.


Time scale:

Phase 1 Bleeding (2-24 hours)

Phase 2 Inflammation (First few hours and can last for a few weeks)

Phase 3 Proliferation( 24 hours- several months)

Phase 4 Remodelling ( 2 weeks- months or even one year after)

As you can see there is a lot happening in the first 24-48 hours of an injury, hence why most people will feel a lot of discomfort within this initial period which can sometimes resolve within a few days without any intervention. What we need to do however is respect these phases in order to give our body its best chance to heal and recover with the ultimate goal to make the quickest return to sport.

What we intend to do is guide you through those initial few days/hours of Phase 1 +2 with advice which will hopefully lead to a more efficient resolution of your injury or more comfort until you are seen by your local health professional.

Ice – Research on this topic suggests that there is limited proof that ice actually increases the rate of healing and leads to the athlete returning to sport any quicker, however what we do know is that it so far has not been shown to harm any injury, if anything it might help with the pain in the initial few days. 

Keep it moving – Within a safe, pain free range, when you can start putting weight on it, but respect your body. Use pain as your limiter in the first few days. 

Keep everything else moving – Although you twisted your ankle it may not affect your bench press or pull up, we often see athletes training with casts/splints/boots on and this probably does a lot for their healing physically and psychologically. See this as an opportunity of what you can train and not what you cannot. 

Off load – Avoid doing any painful tasks for the initial few days, this could be a weight bearing task, a range of movement or even poking your injury too much with foam rollers/balls.

Begin the graded approach to return to sport – Once over the first few days/hours of healing your rehab can begin, this however varies greatly on your injury, the extent of it and your pain levels. This is when it may be a good time to speak to your therapist or Coach Mel/Coach Alan but the sooner you start beginning the small steps to getting back the better.

Using Scaling and Progressive Development to get back into fitness:

What is progressive development?

This is the concept of starting to work from were you are NOW and build from there. There are some basic questions you need to ask yourself and answer honestly.

Are you in pain?

Pain is a symptom, and treating the symptom is not necessarily going to work. Simple range of motion tests can tell you a lot for example can you take your arms overhead without arching through the lower back? If not, then do you think it is possible that overhead movements (presses, pull-ups etc) could cause shoulder and/or lower back issues?

Scaling a movement is a great way to have you use a movement that closely resembles the RX or prescribed movement. Scaling also feeds into progressive development because these scaled movements still work the same muscles that we need to perform the final progression. While you are scaling movements, you are getting stronger and will eventually work your way up to the point where you can do the full movement in its entirety. No one will expect you to walk in the door and do the workout exactly the same as someone else which is the beautiful thing about CrossFit.

By using Scaling CrossFit is actually an amazing training style for injury management and recovery, as long as you have a smart coach and a supportive class environment.

You got 2 support options at CHALKBOX:

  1. You are in pain: REACH OUT TO COACH MEL. She is qualified BSc Hons Exercise Science (health and rehabilitation) and will asses if she can help or refers you to local health professional

  2. You are not in pain but got a serious niggle, recovering from injury or you got a weak back etc and need advise how to continue to move safely and learn about how to address your structural imbalances. REACH OUT TO COACH ALAN. He ‘s got several injury prevention and rehab certificates.

How we can help at CHALKBOX

Remember these three tips to help you on your road to recovery!

Coaching is the most important. Us as coaches will keep you safe. We will make sure you are performing each move properly and teach you the importance of executing movements safely and efficiently for the most effective results. You'll learn that good mechanics of the movement always comes first, then you should be able to repeat it consistently BEFORE adding any intensity.

• You are only limited by your desire to improve. There's nothing worse than sitting at home for months waiting to be back to 100% and feeling sorry for yourself in the meantime. If you want to get over your injury, you need to keep working with the ability you have and keep moving as much as possible! If you do something that doesn't feel right, your coach will know the right scaling option to help you get a great workout without aggravating the issue.

• You have to be patient. We have great coaches who will "encourage” you to take your time and work with your body, not against it. We will help with extra mobility work, stretches or strengthening exercises or assist you to complete your doctor or physician’s recommended exercises. Know the importance of rebuilding slowly - overall this will have a longer lasting effect and prevent re-injury. If you try to rush back into exercise you could be delaying the healing process.