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CrossFit Accessories: When to use and what to consider

The late fashion icon, Coco Chanel once said, “Before leaving the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”

For CrossFit’s sake, we’ll refer to this as the “Chanel rule of moderation.” But what exactly does Chanel have to do with CrossFit? We will focus on the purpose of accesories in CrossFit and the importance of proper movement patterns.

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"I can't put my arms down!"

Knee sleeves, weight belts, wrist wraps, gymnastics grips, elbow sleeves, knee socks, etc. The list continues until every inch of an athlete’s body is covered with something.

There are some specific questions you should ask yourself when prepping for the workout of the day (WOD) to help understand what pieces (if any) of CrossFit ‘flare’ you actually need. We’ve picked the top three items typically found in a CrossFit bag.

This by no means is an exhaustive list, but we’ll break down the purpose, conditions of use, and some pointers to remember.

The Accessories

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1. Wrist Wraps

Front squats, handstand pushups, and overhead movements can leave your wrists sore during or after workouts. Wrist wraps can protect and support this joint. If used during heavyweight or high-rep days especially with wrist-intensive movements, wraps can give you the extra support and protection you need.

2. Knee Sleeves

If you’ve had knee issues in the past or experience pain during squats, knee sleeves can help alleviate some issues. Try to work with coaches to see if there is an underlying issue before resorting to sleeves, however most knees will appreciate the extra love. The sleeves provide support and compression to keep your knees warm while moving through workouts.

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3. Weight Belts

There are many caveats to this piece of equipment so read carefully. Use on heavy or high-rep days of olympic lifting or powerlifting.

Weight belts are made to reinforce midline stability. Are you keeping tension under increased load? Tightening a weight belt will remind you to do so. Kelly Starrett has some great techniques and explanation for maintaining a solid midline.

If you are currently using a weight belt to protect your lower back, there may be deeper movement issues that should be addressed (tight hips, tight hamstrings, or technique tweaks).

When choosing a weight belt for CrossFit, you typically want one that will be quick to take on and off. Nylon weight belts with Velcro are typically the most versatile. Make sure to consult a sizing chart before ordering any style.

It starts with movement, and is not fixed with equipment.

Just like any support, brace, or joint stabilizer- the more you use extra support, the more your body comes to rely on it. While there are endless pieces of “flare” you can use for your WOD’s, be smart, purposeful, and use as needed.

These guidlines will help your body continue building strength in your movement patterns and in your joints while providing extra support when absolutely necessary.