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Crossfitters--Need Advice (HELP: Learned Fear of Box Jumps)

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  • Crossfitters--Need Advice (HELP: Learned Fear of Box Jumps)

    My experience with box jumps is very strange. When I was first exposed to box jumps during the on-ramp sessions, I had no trouble starting. I got on the box right away and survived all on-ramps sessions with box jumps without getting injured. Then I started regular crossfit, and we didn't do box jumps for a while. I developed a fear of them for no reason. I got myself to overcome this by doing a few every so often.

    Then I got injured because I wasn't paying attention one time and fell over the box. I banged my knee. It hurt but wasn't serious or anything. I recovered from this psychologically. But then I got injured again. Banged my shin this time (the normal way people get injured on box jumps). And I developed a fear of box jumps again!

    Now, it's a lot worse. The thing with box jumps is that if you're afraid of them, it actually makes it easier to get injured because of the mental block (thinking you can't get on the box makes it more likely that you won't make it). So I got injured a third time because I was scared. That, of course, just reinforced my fear, and now I'm even more scared. Just thinking about box jumps right now (sitting at work) makes my adrenaline spike (yes, I can tell, I can feel it).

    I can still do them when I have to, but I'm SOOO scared now, it's not even fun anymore. And that's sad because I actually really like box jumps. I can't tell myself that it's an irrational fear because it's completely rational.

    Does anyone have any advice for me on how to attenuate this learned fear? Should I keep trying to make myself do it, or give myself a break for a while? (The last time I got injured on them was last Wednesday.)

    My journal

  • #2
    I was a high jumper in track and had this problem. I ended up focused on the color of the bar. Only blue bar hurt you, doh.

    You may be able to find something special to focus on... It's THAT box, not THIS box. I dunno if that's an approved sports psychology technique (I would be so interested to learn if it is!) but it worked for me when I was psycho.
    “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming
    Blogging at http://loafingcactus.com

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    • #3
      The best advise I can give, is to start with a shorter box, until you get your nerve back up.
      Once it becomes "easy" to do, say, 20+ consecutively, then move to a slightly larger box and so on.

      Making sure you keep your feet under (or slightly in front) of you, will help.
      Other than that, don't "focus" on the edge. If you're going to look at the box, look at the center or far edge (farthest away from you). The body has a natural tendency to go where it's pointed.

      HTH

      OD
      "Live Primally, Train Practically, Prepare Tactically..."

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      • #4
        Yeah...
        I used to have a fear of jumping anything over 3' on a horse. And I'd do dumb shit in front of a 3' jump due to fear. This has carried over to box jumps....LOL, the 2" difference between 18" and 20" does me in.....The key is to get bored, perfect form, move up again.

        So, go back to the box jump height that is stupid easy for you. Use that until you feel like it's a stupid waste of time. Then find a box 2" bigger. Use that until you feel it is a stupid waste of time. If it is kind of scary, set it next to the easy jump and if you get unglued or nervous, jump the low box to get confidence back, then hop on the higher box. Repeat until you are where you want to be.

        It takes time to restore confidence and it can be frustrating to know you can do something, but you are too scared. It just is a factor of time.

        http://maggiesfeast.wordpress.com/
        Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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        • #5
          Tell your box to buy you one of these.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by loafingcactus View Post
            I was a high jumper in track and had this problem. I ended up focused on the color of the bar. Only blue bar hurt you, doh.

            You may be able to find something special to focus on... It's THAT box, not THIS box. I dunno if that's an approved sports psychology technique (I would be so interested to learn if it is!) but it worked for me when I was psycho.
            Hmmm...not sure if that would work for me. The boxes kinda all look the same so I'm not even sure which ones hurt me. Since I've been injured three times already, and we only have maybe 7 boxes, I think there's a good chance that most of them have hurt me.

            Originally posted by Off Duty View Post
            The best advise I can give, is to start with a shorter box, until you get your nerve back up.
            Once it becomes "easy" to do, say, 20+ consecutively, then move to a slightly larger box and so on.

            Making sure you keep your feet under (or slightly in front) of you, will help.
            Other than that, don't "focus" on the edge. If you're going to look at the box, look at the center or far edge (farthest away from you). The body has a natural tendency to go where it's pointed.

            HTH

            OD
            How did you know that I often look at the edge? I'll be sure to look at the center of the box from now on (that is, if I ever manage to convince myself to do another one).

            Originally posted by magnolia1973 View Post
            Yeah...
            I used to have a fear of jumping anything over 3' on a horse. And I'd do dumb shit in front of a 3' jump due to fear. This has carried over to box jumps....LOL, the 2" difference between 18" and 20" does me in.....The key is to get bored, perfect form, move up again.

            So, go back to the box jump height that is stupid easy for you. Use that until you feel like it's a stupid waste of time. Then find a box 2" bigger. Use that until you feel it is a stupid waste of time. If it is kind of scary, set it next to the easy jump and if you get unglued or nervous, jump the low box to get confidence back, then hop on the higher box. Repeat until you are where you want to be.

            It takes time to restore confidence and it can be frustrating to know you can do something, but you are too scared. It just is a factor of time.
            We don't really have smaller boxes. Our smallest one is 20". People who can't get on the box just use stacked weights. Maybe I'll try those, or maybe I'll just practice at my globo gym. They have smaller boxes that are padded like the ones lorichka linked to.

            The crazy thing about the globo gym is that I've never seen anyone use those boxes in a normal way. Either women step up and down them, or some guy stacks them all up to a ridiculous height and then jumps on them from a running leap. It must not hurt much when you miss on those because I've watched him miss a bunch of times and he didn't seem to be in pain at all.

            Originally posted by lorichka6 View Post
            Tell your box to buy you one of these.
            Haha! Yeah, right. I wish.

            My journal

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            • #7
              At a CF box I go to occasionally there are 2 things that may help:
              -- Stack up the tumbling pads to the same height. My gym has a competitive college gymnast in there as well as 3-4 guys that do MMA practice, so we have enough to stack 7 feet high. I am assuming most gyms have enough for 20 inches.
              -- Ticker tape. We have a lot of that really thin yellow tape they use for races lying around. I know a woman that stands up two barbells (locks the weight in with a clip) and creates a sort of limbo line to jump over.

              Either way, you don't bite it if you don't make the jump. I use the ticker tape myself to do the real high stuff.
              "The soul that does not attempt flight; does not notice its chains."

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              • #8
                If you ain't bleeding you ain't training!!! Bwarrrr!


                haha... just kidding. I actually have no use for plyometric work for anyone that's not in athletic competition, but if you REALLY wanna get back to it then don't give yourself a whole week to contemplate it. Get right back on the horse so to speak. Your going to be tentative at first, but that's a good thing. Good reflex to make sure you are paying attention this time. Only repetition will cure you of your fear. Just work for quality repetition.

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                • #9
                  I too ripped my shin on the box last year. Talk about a blood bath, yeesh...

                  Learning to accept a longer time/fewer rounds for a WOD that involves jumps was the only way to proceed for me. My new gym only has those plastic, round edged steps, like for step aerobics, so adjusting the height is up to me. Did your trainers offer any alternatives to box jumps? Like step ups or lateral jumps? You could maybe pepper in a few box jumps if the alternatives are feeling too easy.

                  And maybe I'm talking crazy here, but would shin guards be okay to wear? I say wear whatever PPE you need to safely get though a WOD, and screw the haters/pretentious purists.
                  “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi

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                  • #10
                    This might sound silly but if shin injuries are the main fear (and hell yes they hurt) then go buy some soccer shinguards. (Just saw the poster above said the same thing.)

                    I can't imagine anyone in the box having a problem with it.
                    ----------
                    Primal since August 2012. CW: 317.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TheyCallMeLazarus View Post
                      At a CF box I go to occasionally there are 2 things that may help:
                      -- Stack up the tumbling pads to the same height. My gym has a competitive college gymnast in there as well as 3-4 guys that do MMA practice, so we have enough to stack 7 feet high. I am assuming most gyms have enough for 20 inches.
                      -- Ticker tape. We have a lot of that really thin yellow tape they use for races lying around. I know a woman that stands up two barbells (locks the weight in with a clip) and creates a sort of limbo line to jump over.

                      Either way, you don't bite it if you don't make the jump. I use the ticker tape myself to do the real high stuff.
                      We don't have enough mats to be able to stack up to 20 inches although it's actually a great idea. Wish we had enough mats.

                      With the ticker tape thing--are you saying that you just jump over the tape? (I'm having trouble visualizing the contraption you're describing.)

                      Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                      If you ain't bleeding you ain't training!!! Bwarrrr!


                      haha... just kidding. I actually have no use for plyometric work for anyone that's not in athletic competition, but if you REALLY wanna get back to it then don't give yourself a whole week to contemplate it. Get right back on the horse so to speak. Your going to be tentative at first, but that's a good thing. Good reflex to make sure you are paying attention this time. Only repetition will cure you of your fear. Just work for quality repetition.
                      Hah, I don't REALLY want to get back to it at all, but I also don't want to quit crossfit just because I'm afraid of box jumps. I just don't want to be such a wimp...

                      Originally posted by SophieScreams View Post
                      I too ripped my shin on the box last year. Talk about a blood bath, yeesh...

                      And maybe I'm talking crazy here, but would shin guards be okay to wear? I say wear whatever PPE you need to safely get though a WOD, and screw the haters/pretentious purists.
                      Originally posted by bostonwolf View Post
                      This might sound silly but if shin injuries are the main fear (and hell yes they hurt) then go buy some soccer shinguards. (Just saw the poster above said the same thing.)

                      I can't imagine anyone in the box having a problem with it.
                      Shin guards are a great idea. Just bought some on Amazon. Hopefully, my fear will magically go away when I'm wearing them! (I doubt it, but one can hope!)

                      My journal

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                      • #12
                        I am looking at a lovely scar on my left shin from box jumps, acquired back in Jan. It was max height box jump day. I missed my first attempt at 32" and ate shit on the corner. Second attempt resulted in the same. Trust me when I say knee socks offer zero protection. I've thought about shin guards myself, I would be interested to hear how they work for you.

                        As for the fear, I definitely had a mental block against box jumps following that. I cherry-picked WODs and skipped any with box jumps for a solid couple months after. Finally came back around, and can do 20" jumps well enough, although if I stare at the box too long between jumps it gets harder, my mind starts wandering back to getting hurt again. Had a WOD recently where women were told to do 24" RX, frankly I ignored it and did 20". I say do what you need to do to get back on the box, but don't let anyone bully/force/coerce you into doing jumps before you are ready. Try a lower box, or doing step ups until you are comfortable. If your fear is that great, try a stack of bumper plates. The edges are at least rounded, and a stack of plates looks far different from a box, that might help you get over the mental hurdle.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by diene View Post
                          ...How did you know that I often look at the edge? I'll be sure to look at the center of the box from now on (that is, if I ever manage to convince myself to do another one)...
                          LOL- Just a SWAG (Scientific Wild Assed Guess) I reckon LOL
                          Probably because I did it too, at least initially.
                          Then my "other" training kicked in.

                          We (people in general) have a natural tendency to look "at" impending danger, or anything they perceive may harm them.

                          As both a police motor officer, and a civilian and law enforcement motorcycle instructor, understanding how to overcome this "focus" becomes mandatory to your safety and survival.

                          When confronted with an obstacle, most people will look at the "problem" (the obstacle) rather than the "solution" (the way out).

                          By doing so, hand/eye coordination kicks in, and "you'll hit what you're aiming at" every time
                          By using the same theory, but this time "focusing" on your escape route, you have a better chance of avoiding the crash by virtue of the same hand/eye coordination, combined with some skill/luck of course.

                          Applying the same theory to the box jump, you may perceive the sharp wooden (jagged/splintered?) edges of the box as a threat to the safety of your shins (lol). As such, you focus, in some cases subconsciously, on the edge.
                          When you jump, your feet will likely land pretty much where you're looking.

                          The added "fear" of injury will likely keep you from going all out, and the focus being on the edge closest to you, limits your distance. As a result.....Wham!! You're now shaving off the top three layers of skin

                          By focusing on something more distant, be it the center of the box, the other side if the box, or the other side of the room (careful with this one though), you stand a much better chance of landing in the center of the box.

                          Also, by focusing "down" at the edges, your body has a tendency to move that direction.
                          Head up, eyes forward (or slightly down at the center of the box), will usually keep your body moving forward, rather than shortening your jump.

                          Of course, fatigue will have to factor in somewhere.
                          Sometimes, all you can do, is scale the jumps to fit you!!
                          I never did the Rx height, and in the end, did about 50/50 jumps and steps.

                          Finally, I've seen a lot of CF types that wear scars and injuries as some sort of a badge, an accomplishment.
                          That's just BS!
                          We have to work, eat with, and be able to be functional with the extremities, hand and feet that we have, and beating them to death, just doesn't make sense.

                          It's my body, and no one is going to cause me to do something to harm myself as a "badge of honor."

                          Hope something above helps.

                          Hang in there!

                          OD
                          "Live Primally, Train Practically, Prepare Tactically..."

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                          • #14
                            This is my area of expertise. I started Crossfit last year with a giant, impenetrable fear of box jumps. I had never even done one, or hurt myself doing one, or anything; it was an innate mental block. I definitely had the physical ability to jump on a 20" box, and I could even do 20" box jumpovers. I just couldn't jump on to the box. What would happen is that I could jump and land no problem with my feet separate--so, leaving the ground with one foot then the other, and landing with one foot then the other, more like a leap. I even got good at faking it, adjusting my feet midair so they landed at the same time and the coaches wouldn't notice I was taking off with one foot. But trying to make my feet leave the ground at the same time was like trying to make my body jump off a cliff. Wasn't going to happen.

                            Here are the things that did not work:

                            1. Coaches standing around watching and encouraging, trying to get me to jump properly, during a WOD. The mental block just grew and grew until I couldn't even jump two-footed.
                            2. Continuing to do my fake two-footed jumps during WODs, hoping no one would notice. A coach noticed and called me out. And plus, it was reinforcing the Wrong Way, which is always stupid to do.
                            3. Continuing to attempt the Rx 20" box during WODs. I'd just end up standing and staring at it.

                            One day at the gym the mental block got so bad that I started freaking out even watching other people do box jumps. I would gasp and wince every time someone took off and landed. I think in my brain, I just picture landing wrong in such a way that my face hits the edge and it turns into the curb-stomping scene from American History X. Anyway, that day I was so freaked out mentally that I couldn't even jump onto two stacked plates on the floor (that's like 6 inches). It was ridiculous. I decided then and there that this wasn't going to continue.

                            I went to Lowe's and for about fifty bucks bought myself the components to make my own plyo box. I built a 12" wooden box, then built three 3-inch risers that attach with velcro so they stay firmly on the box while I'm jumping. I could practice with the 12" box, then add height in 3-inch increments as needed, all the way up to 21".

                            Once the box was built, I just practiced at 12 inches. I did a "grease the groove" type thing where I went outside several times a day and just nailed a couple jumps and came back in. If my mental block kicked in and I couldn't jump (I know as soon as I step up to the box if it's going to happen or not), I didn't attempt a jump, or do it the Wrong Way, I just walked away and came back later. A week of this got me to the point where I could comfortably and reliably nail 12" at the gym every time.

                            Then I found out that an upcoming competition was going to include box jumps. I only had about a week to get myself landing 20" jumps perfectly. I ended up getting the jumps on a single day, and what I did sounds totally ridiculous, but it worked:

                            I did 3 12" jumps. Then I walked a little ways away, laid down, closed my eyes, and cleared out all thoughts. I just made my mind empty out. I did this peaceful stillness for a couple of minutes, then stood up and WITHOUT THINKING AT ALL, not allowing any thoughts to enter my mind, walked over to the box, put the riser on, and landed the 15" jump. I got three more. Then I laid down again. When I went back to the box I landed three more 15" jumps, then put the riser on and landed it at 18".

                            I repeated this jump, lay down, jump, lay down method over and over until I was landing the 21" jump. I walked away, went inside for a couple of hours, came out and did a few more jumps. I greased the groove throughout the rest of the day, and the next day I was getting the 20" box jumps at the competition.

                            Now, this isn't to say I'm totally cured--we don't do box jumps all that often, and I don't make myself practice enough, so usually when I step up to a box at the gym, the block is there and I can't jump. But it's a LOT easier to break through, now that I know I can hit the box, and actually have it in my muscle memory. I just stack some plates on the ground in front of the box, stand on the plates, and jump to the box from that height; I remove a plate each jump and usually within three jumps I'm hitting the box from the ground as normal.

                            Making the plyo box was easy, you just need a couple tools (and you can get the guy at Lowe's or HD or wherever to cut all the wood for you). I highly suggest making a practice box to get yourself back in the groove. Another thing that works to push through a block when it appears is to drape a towel over the edge of the box. For some reason, covering up the edge makes it easier for my brain to let me jump onto the box.

                            Good luck! Conquering box jumps was my personal Everest! I posted video of my first 21" box jump to my gym's Facebook page when I finally got it, and everyone was so excited--that's how weird and infamous my fear of box jumps was!

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                            • #15
                              I can't bring myself to attempt a 20" box! Unfortunately we've only had 14" as an alternative until someone made a 15.5" box (random size) which I can do. I did say they need more in between sizes! But it makes it hard if you've only got 20" as an option! I would try stacking plates if there's nothing lower than 20". I did that one time when there weren't enough small boxes!

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