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Avoid Injury by Dave Tate - CrossFit Journal

Avoid Injury

By Dave Tate

In Medical/Injuries, Powerlifting, Videos

November 09, 2009

Video Article

While injuries are a part of any sport, they don’t have to happen all the time.

In his own special way—no BS with extra profanity— strength expert Dave Tate of Elite FTS offers his strategy for avoiding downtime due to injuries:

“We all do stupid shit. It’s just you want to try to stop from doing stupid shit 100 per cent of the time, and just do stupid shit, like, 20 per cent of the time.”

You may not be able to avoid a freak accident like breaking a finger when racking a bar, but you can often avoid overtraining injuries and injuries due to competitive people pushing too far beyond their limits.

“You want to make sure that injuries that do happen happen because of flukes,” Tate says.

And if you have an injury, take heart:

“I’ve seen people come back from everything,” Tate says.

6min 55sec

Additional reading: CrossFit and Powerlifting by Jason Bagwell, published May 1, 2005.

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18 Comments on “Avoid Injury”


wrote …

Haha, what a line! What exactly more can I do for my triceps that that didn't just do. I'd like to propose using that line for biceps every time anyone does pull-ups.


wrote …

I do wish this gentleman would elimnate the gratutious profanity. It detracts from the point he is trying to make...there is no excuse for this and I wish the CrossFit Journal would censor this type of language. And I am no stranger to profanity after serving over 20 years in the USN...


replied to comment from Thomas Wilson

Here, here, Thomas. I'm OK with the occasional language that I hear within the videos throughout the CF website, but when a Dave Tate video appears, I personally don't even watch it b/c I know it's 1/2 profanity and I don't see the need to listen to it, even if the points he tries to make are valid and noteworthy.


wrote …, what about the absurdity of a man who, by his own count, has suffered DOZENS of injuries lecturing about avoiding injury?!
tate's own list:
• Calves: I've torn both of them, leaving a huge indentation in each.
• Right Knee: Back in the late 80's I strained my ACL and that left me on crutches for two weeks. I've had three other similar strains since that time.
• Right Hamstring: I tore this hamstring so badly that I nearly needed surgery to fix it.
• Left Knee: I've partially torn my patellar tendon. This wasn't bad, pain-wise, but it did mess up my squatting for four months.
• Quad: I pulled my right quad in the early 90's. It was so bad that it turned my entire leg black.
• Groin: I've injured my groin on both the right and left sides. This was a year of hell where there was nothing I could do to get it fixed. So I just wrapped it up and dealt with it. After a year it got better.
• Lower Abdominal: I tore my lower abdominal muscles seven years ago. I did this while squatting and it was perhaps the most painful injury I've ever had.
• Spine: The following discs are herniated: L4, L5, C4, C5. C4 and C5 left my hand numb for a few months. L4 and L5 occurred over 14 years ago and required me to take two months off training
• Intercostals: I've strained two on each side over the past ten years.
• Left pec: I tore this muscle at the tendon and needed surgery to repair it.
• Right pec: I tore this muscle in half but decided to not have surgery since the tendon was still attached.
• Both pecs: I've torn each at least 20 times and each time caused the entire pec to turn black and blue. All of these happened before the above pec injuries.
• Right shoulder: I've had a torn supraspinatus, bone spurs, and now have arthritis. I had this shoulder cleaned up with the AC shaved down to allow more movement, but am now experiencing almost all the same ailments in the same shoulder. Doctors are talking replacement.
• Left shoulder: This one also has arthritis, but isn't as bad as the other."


You're right, it is absurd. Why would a person who has trained his body seriously for decades and been injured numerous times pretend to know anything about injuries? Please note sarcasm!

I myself am in the same boat but to a lesser extent. I've been a serious competitive athlete for close to 20 years now and I have an injury list a mile long. A good portion of my major injuries occurred when I was young and careless or as Mr. Tate said "doing stupid shit". Over the years I learned a lot from my experiences doing stupid things. Many of the injuries I now get from training (which are inevitable like Tate says) wouldn't have happened if I hadn't incurred dumb injuries when I was younger. This video really hit home with me because it's something I deal with on a daily basis. Crossfit makes me strong and in the long term I am much better off doing it. In the short term there are lots of things I can do that will injure me so I try to minimize injury and increase days I can train hard as much as possible by "not doing stupid shit". For example, I have bad shoulders, I know this. As a consequence, I don't just grab some rings cold and do a muscle up, I warm up and get loose for ten minutes or so. It's easy when you hang out in the gym and your friend is messing around trying iron crosses or some such to just hop on and give it a shot and tweak your shoulder.


replied to comment from Jesse Gray

Jesse, let me make sure I understand you.
Your previous way of training, as a competitive athlete, was similar to Dave Tate's way of training.
Your previous way of training involved much more "stupid shit" than your current, CrossFit training.
Your previous way of training gave you injuries that cause you suffering to this day.
Those injuries could have been avoided had you not done that "stupid shit".
...And this is somehow a rebuttal of my point?!
To clarify, Jesse, I'm not balking at Tate talking about "injuries" -- I'm balking about Tate lecturing on how to AVOID injuries. And you know what? He didn't even say much!


replied to comment from Sam Ser

I would say that someone who knows exactly what has caused those injuries, from painful personal experience, who has has done his homework and learned from that experience is the ideal person to advise someone how to avoid injury in general and those injuries in particular.

The question is not whether Dave is qualified to tell others how to avoid injury, it's whether what he's saying is correct. Arguing about his credentials is irrelevant to the value or lack thereof of what he is saying.


wrote …

Every time a Tate article is posted there is so much talk about his profanity. Why bother commenting on it? We all know he cusses, that is his way of communicating. Why bother watching the video and then complaining about something in it. It's like watching porno and getting upset that you saw some boobs. Don't wanna hear it, don't watch. I hate the "big-brother" atmosphere that has to dictate to everyone else what they should do. Secondly, Tate has already stated that he did not listen to a lot of advice that was given to him regarding pre-hab. I guess that is his learning curve; he didn't want to listen and so he got injured. That does not mean he does not know about injury prevention, it just means he had to learn about it the hard way. Remember, powerlifting really pushes the button up in the strength domain, thus greater chance of injury.


replied to comment from morgan mcpherson

Morgan, I am in 100% agreement with you. However, in regards to Tate's videos in the Journal, I don't think they offer much. How much information can you really take from these limited videos of him. And they are limited.


First off Sam, I apologize for the sarcasm. Some times I get a little too snarky for my own good. Sorry about that, I'd like to keep this informative, not personal.
That being said I think you're misunderstanding what "stupid shit" entails. Doing stupid things doesn't mean other kinds of training besides Crossfit, it means making bad decisions in general. For example, a guy I train with at my local box saw a picture of a weighlifter from the 70's doing a deep split snatch. He decided it looked awesome and decided to give it a half joking try with an unloaded bar. This guy, "Joe" we'll call him hadn't warmed up. So Joe gets into a nice snatch position, pulls, splits under the bar, screams and drops it... Joe suffered a severe quadriceps pull and couldn't train effectively for 6 weeks after that. Joe was/is a great Crossfitter and is very dedicated to his training so you see, it wasn't his method of training that caused his injury, it was his decision to do stupid shit. Crossfit movements can be dangerous and can injure you. By not doing stupid things and goofing around in the gym you can reduce the amount of stupid injuries you incur. That was the point of the article and the point of my rebuttal.


wrote …

If you didn't learn anything from this video, you didn't pay enough attention.


wrote …

Did you read that list of injuries? Dave Tate REPEATEDLY injured himself over more than 20 years! And he did it by doing the same things over and over. So how much do you think he learned from his experiences? And how much do you think he can teach you about avoiding injury?
Also, in terms of doing crazy things -- he's talking about doing CrossFit instead of powerlifting, if you're a powerlifter -- measure CrossFit's injury-inducing history and powerlifting's injury-inducing history. They're poles apart.


wrote …

whats not to understand? he got hurt alot. he knows WHY he got hurt alot. he says hey dont do this thing because you'll get hurt alot. every time ive ever been injured it was because either i did the wod without proper warm up or just felt like doing "a little something extra" after finishing the programing for the day.stupid shit. the pullup bar did come unscrewed in the middle of a butterfly kip once....


replied to comment from Sam Ser

Take a peek at the injury forum on the CF boards, there are lots of injuries related to training CF on a daily basis, and many of them are from doing "stupid shit" e.g. excessive kipping trying to get MU's before having strength.


replied to comment from Sam Ser

Sam, I think you may be missing the point. There are two paths to enlightenment, learning from the mistakes you make, and the mistakes others make. How many athletes, past and present push through injury when they know in the back of their mind they shouldnt and that they risk further damage that may be permanent. At least Dave is trying to educate others to avoid the same mistakes he made. Does that mean that I cant teach my kids how to squat properly because I was doing it wrong for so long?


replied to comment from Dean Goldstein

dave tate said himself that he tore EACH PEC "AT LEAST 20 TIMES" -- so, you tell me: what do you think he learned on the 20th tear that he didn't know on the 19th? and do you think it's something that you wouldn't have figured out on the 1st time?
folks, this is not a difficult concept to grasp. dave tate didn't learn much about avoiding injury because he DIDN'T CARE about avoiding injury. injuries were just part of the game. and, hey, he succeeded at his game... but if YOUR game is about actually avoiding injury, then why bother with this? would you actually pay to hear a guy tell you "don't do stupid shit"?! like you couldn't figure that out on your own?!
i'm really curious whether here were a whole bunch of crossfitters contemplating doing a whole bunch of stupid shit, but realized it was a bad idea after watching this video. (sigh.)


wrote …

i would equate some of your logic to that of a primate. lets make a comparison who is more likely to help an addict get clean and sober? someone who has been an addict themselves or some yahoo who has never seen crack/meth/heroine? hmmm...

as far as the profanity...get a grip you bunch of prudes!!!


wrote …

Sam, look at it this way...Replace Tate's name with Glassman's, Simmon's, Rippetoe's...Does the message change?

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