Hack It Up?

By Chris Cooper

PDF Article

Chris Cooper examines belts, squat suits and knee wraps for CrossFit athletes.

This year at the CrossFit Games, athletes will bolster their courage with meditation, concentration, HTFU and sometimes prayer.

Some will also brace their backs with leather, their wrists with reinforced nylon or their asses with polyester briefs.

But should they?

Supportive gear—belts, wraps and physio tape—might help an athlete lift more weight, do more reps and fatigue more slowly. For example, a lifting belt can provide backup for the transverse abdominis, in theory allowing for more load to be moved before postural breakdown. Some athletes swear that physio tape, properly applied, can ease the eccentric portion of a cyclic exercise such as high-rep overhead presses, though science has not backed that claim. Supportive briefs may provide a little help with hip extension … . And so on.

But do these “aids” actually provide an advantage? If so, is it an unfair advantage?

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4 Comments on “Hack It Up?”


Dale Saran wrote …

Chris Cooper - Excellent article!! That went a direction I did not expect and was well-researched and written. Thanks, brother, for a very enjoyable read.


wrote …

I think that is really important to get out there and is worth the read for the excerpt on weight belts alone.


wrote …

I'm glad CrossFit has decided to tackle this issue in a data driven way. What use is it to be able to squat 1,000+ pounds if I can't walk more than twenty feet in my gear? I believe all gear types should be tested for compression and advantage, and ONLY tested gear should be allowed to be used in competition. If we don't make a stand now the drama will continue to build, until the only possible decision left would be to ban all gear, and have only CrossFit issued clothing worn during competition.


Eli Lambert wrote …

YES! Great article with good points that have been on my mind since Regionals. The kinesiotaping during competitions has gotten ridiculous. People are just covered in it. I even saw some tape come loose from an athlete's wrist and get in the way of movement during the hundreds. As a physical therapist I have to say that if it worked at all, it could not work well like that. It is more likely to restrict movement and hinder performance. I mean, it's TAPE. The vector forces on our joints from tape attached to our super-elastic skin is less than negligible compared to muscular pull.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Cooper!

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