PT FOR CROSSFITTERS
I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Physical Therapist, and founder of The Stoic Physio Melissa Capurro. We did a little Q&A to introduce her to our community and cannot WAIT to launch our podcast episode (coming soon!).
Thirteen Fit Apparel: What got you into PT?
Melissa Capurro: My uncle is a physical therapist in California and owns two of his own practices. He works with celebrities and famous athletes, and he worked individually with Jackie-Joyner Kersee, who was an Olympic track athlete. When I was a little girl, my dad showed me the back of a newspaper (which was always the sports section) and my uncle was on the back cover of it, working on Jackie. At that moment, I knew I wanted to work alongside athletes, getting them back into the game.
TFA: Why "The Stoic Physio"?
MC: This is a great question. When I was in PT school, I was introduced to stoicism, which is a philosophy and way of thinking that provides strength, wisdom, and guidance for all of life's challenges. It helped me get through schooling, and it served as a way of life for me from there on. I practice it daily, and it's incredibly helpful to keep close in my training life as well as my business! It truly led me to where I am today. Without it, I'm not sure I would be in business working for myself, trying to help more people bring out their best lives.
TFA: As a PT, what is your mission and purpose?
MC: My mission is to make all of my patients/clients as strong as they can possibly be, and to show them that they are capable of things that they never imagined they could be. I'm here to stand by my patients/clients as they walk through whatever obstacles that they are facing, and show them that there is a way through. Teaching people how to exercise and load their bodies appropriately is only part of my job - the other, and arguably more important part, is educating and building relationships with these people.
TFA: When did you decide to go out on your own and why? What did that process look like?
MC: I left my outpatient orthopedic clinic job in March of 2021. I was tired of being overworked, underpaid and undervalued, and THE MOST sick of insurance dictating what I did and how I ran a session. With cash based PT, I can practice the way I want to practice and not let anyone tell me what I need to be doing. It was a HUGE risk and leap of faith to leave a job with a definite salary and benefits to go out on my own, but I can help so many more people the way I truly want to this way.
TFA: What are common reasons you treat CrossFitters? What mistakes do you see them making and how can people prevent making those mistakes/getting injured?
MC: Honestly, I treat CrossFitters because I understand them. I am one of them. There are so many PTs out there that don't like CrossFit or think it's more "dangerous" than any other sport out there. Truth is, there are the same amount of injuries in CrossFit as there are in other sports, like running. Studies have shown that in CrossFit, there are between 2 and 3.5 injuries per 1000 hours of training, which is lower than most forms of training. So many PTs out there don't "approve" of CrossFit and advise against it. However, a lot of the treatments/interventions I use with my patients are all ones that can be done in a typical CrossFit gym. I use barbells, DBs, KBs, rigs - you name it, I use it.
However, the biggest downfall that I see in CrossFit is usually a volume issue. We LOVE our sport, so we want to do as much of it as we can. Makes sense, right? Our bodies can only handle so much though. People that overtrain and don't support their high intensity lifestyle outside of the gym are usually the ones that end up injured. What does this mean? People that overtrain in addition to not eating well, not sleeping well, not managing their stress well.
Overtraining isn't measured in one certain way - it can look different for everyone. If you're used to taking 3 classes per week that are an hour each, overtraining for you, at that point in time, can be taking 5 classes at 1 hour per week. With the appropriate rest and recovery, however, this likely wouldn't be an issue, but it would take your body some time to adapt and learn that your "new norm" is 5 classes instead of 3.
Volume is a good thing, especially if someone is looking to really improve their game and even be competitive. However, it has to be smart volume, and there needs to be appropriate rest and recovery - namely, stress management, a diet that supports our lifestyle, and ample sleep. To do this, I recommend that most of my clients at least speak with a nutrition coach to get an idea of how much they should be eating, especially new athletes. Taking part in a sport like CrossFit puts a huge demand on your body, and I find that most people are eating more than they are used to. In regards to sleep, 7-8 hours per night at minimum, and in regards to stress management, make sure there are other ways that you can relieve your stress other than the gym - journaling, gratitude walking, spending time with family and friends.
Some of the most common injuries are knee, shoulder and back injuries. When this happens, load management and recovery is going to become even more important than before...This is when it's important to find a provider that understands what you're going through, as well as the demands of CrossFit on the body. Proper volume and load management goes a long, long way.
To those interested in CrossFit but are nervous or hesitant because it's "dangerous" - it's no more dangerous than any other sport. Make sure you have coaches that are taking the time to teach you all the movements required to be successful in the sport. Take the time to really master different movements and positions before progressing to higher level movements. Know your limits, but you likely don't know what you're capable of doing!
TFA: What kind of disabilities do you work with?
MC: My specialty is, as we have been talking about, working with the injured CrossFitter or fitness athlete. However, I do work with a seated adaptive athlete who has cauda equina, two young children that are enrolled in our CrossFit Kids program, and older adults. Physical therapy, especially outside of the insurance world, is not just for people that are injured. It's also meant for people trying to maintain their function and build to be as strong as they can possibly be, when normally, insurance wouldn't cover this type of care.
I especially recommend PT to any athlete or individual that likes to live an active lifestyle! Using physical therapy as a way to maintain and learn about imbalances that you may not know about is truly eye-opening. For this type of person, a monthly visit is sufficient to get an assessment based on what you enjoy doing. From there, gaining knowledge about a couple targeted exercises to make sure you stay your healthiest is a small price to pay for long-term gains and active lifestyles :)
TFA: How do you customize your treatment to each client?
MC: This really depends on the client, as your question already mentions. When I start working with someone, I need to truly find out why they want to work with me - why are they in the gym? What's the true reasoning behind their desire to get better/stronger/out of pain? What is their "why?"
We talk about our baseline functional level - this can be how someone functions at home, in the gym, or anywhere; we do initial testing to see where we are at at baseline, and then based on goals, determine the best course of action to achieve those goals.
Like I mentioned before, I truly can't wait to share Melissa's energy and knowledge with you all in the next few weeks on the podcast. Stay tuned!