What Did We Learn From Kevin Ogar?

Apparently there is a certain portion of the fitness community that has learned nothing about the tragedy that took place about a year ago.  Kevin Ogar, who was competing in the Crossfit OC Throwdown in January of 2014 severed his spine during the competition and is now paralyzed.  A video of the moment it happened went viral and the whole fitness community mourned along with extensive analysis of what happened.  By many it was considered a freak accident, unless you consider the fact that he was three workouts into a ten workout regime, likely already exhausted and throwing a heavy weight over his head.  I’m not posting a link but it is easily found, and is disturbing.

First and foremost, this is not an article about CrossFit, bashing anyone or doing anything other than taking a look objectively at the situation.   From what I have read nobody can seem to properly determine if Kevin’s spine was just ready to snap, or if he was hit by the bar (or both) – either way, it is a horrible accident and my thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.

However, apparently the people who run the OC Throwdown didn’t learn anything, as this year they decided to have their participants jump over successive hurdles that were set at heights way too difficult to get over, resulting in many competitors falling – it is unknown if any of them seriously injured themselves but judging from what I was watching it was highly likely.  There was a video that went viral about it and many people within the community complained that it was irresponsible and idiotic (which it was), and you would think that the organizers of this event would have known better.  By the way, if you want to see the video, it’s here.

Maybe if just one person had stood up and reminded them of what happened the year before and simply refused to do something so risky they might have changed their whole workout and everyone could have done it safely.  But that’s not cool, and it’s not hardcore, and it’s not something that you can post on YouTube.

This article is about the responsibility we all have towards our bodies, and the stupidity that sometimes arises when people get competitive.  I can’t count the amount of people I have dealt with who have experienced major injuries, usually because they decided to “push through it” or they wanted to “suck it up”.  Your body sends you signals for a reason, and it usually isn’t to tell you “hey, maybe you should think about stopping.”

I have many people on my Facebook feed who perform (to be blunt) horrible lifts.  Absolutely brutal lifts.  But they get the weight up and cheer themselves and get tons of likes on Facebook and Instagram of course.  One poor girl who is all of 21 regularly hurts herself and almost brags about it, and then two days later posts videos of herself lifting, and the only thing I can see is her knees buckling and her spine ready to collapse.  She doesn’t realize that in 20 years – or sooner – she’s likely going to be suffering.

This is way too common on my internet feed.

This is way too common on my internet feed.

Tragedy comes in many forms, but to me one of the most tragic things is seeing a mistake made and then doing absolutely nothing to correct it simply for the sake of ego.  You only get one body and one life.  You have a choice if you want to let yourself live it to its’ fullest for the whole time you’re on the earth, or possibly have that one moment of glory (or one moment of stupidity) and pay for it for years.  I’ve fallen victim to it myself when I was younger and stupid.  Many of my friends who have “tweaked” things 20 years ago have recently had to have surgery to resolve things and can’t do what they want to do any more.  It’s inevitable if you keep treating your body like a punching bag.

I’d rather see people lifting 50 pounds less and able to do it for 20 more years, which is why I run my practice the way that I do.  I’ve taught women in their 50’s to lift over 150 pounds, but do they really need to do more than that?  My people squat and lift and push and pull just like anyone else, but they do it with care and responsibility to the body, and funnily enough they rarely have a problem, now and ten years from now.  I fix people who have had crippling injuries on a regular basis – the only people I’ll refuse to work with are those who haven’t learned the rules of the body and to respect what it tells you and do something about it.

Strength isn’t something that you can easily define.  Figure out for yourself what it means.  Hopefully it doesn’t mean sacrificing your long term joint health for the sake of making one massive lift, or almost killing yourself to be able to pose on a stage for 30 seconds, or dehydrating yourself so you can have abs just that much more visible for a photo shoot, or doing something idiotic to be able to post an edgy video on the internet.  Wake up.

As always, comments are welcome.

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