by Geoff Rand
Few injuries are as CrossFit-specific as The Mark. Some call it Butt Berry, Monkey Butt, or simply, the Ass Crack Rash. This painful skin chafing affects both newcomers and seasoned CrossFitters.
If you haven’t gotten The Mark, you either have not yet done a high rep situp WOD on the Abmat, or you have spectacular ability to engage your abdominals throughout the workout. The Mark is sneaky. You don’t even know you have it at first. But once you take that first post-WOD shower, look out. That tender area just above your butt crack that got rubbed raw during the workout usually reveals itself once contacted with water. It continues to remind you of its presence as your clothing touches it as you move around or sit or stand.
The Mark is caused by the friction created by the rubbing of your tailbone area against the floor as you do situps. While most of us will start out with good situp form, as we get into the really high rep situp workouts like Annie or Angie, we start to fatigue and when we get sloppy on form, that’s when we are prone to chafing.
To prevent The Mark from forming keep your butt on the floor and keep your abs engaged during the entire movement of the situp. We all have a tendency to let our butt come off the floor, especially as our shoulder blades are down as we reach the lowered position of the situp. Often as we throw ourselves downward in an effort to crank out the reps, this force causes our butt to come up. All that movement over hundreds of reps adds up to a lot of friction.
Along with keeping your butt on the floor, you need to engage and use your abdominal muscles to raise and lower yourself during the movement. While using momentum created by throwing your arms forward is allowed and will assist in the upward movement, you really should be initiating the upward movement with your lower abs. Doing this will also force your butt to stay in contact with the floor and Abmat.
Some athletes find that placing a section of yoga mat partially under the Abmat as a cushion for your tailbone assists with preventing The Mark from forming. CrossFit Games competitor Christy Adkins also advocates the use of tape on the skin to prevent rash. “You take a small amount of athletic tape and form an X, then place that on the tender, boney process right at the top of the sacrum, I found that if I layered enough pieces to form the X, it alleviated the butt raspberry syndrome,” she stated. Others have formed a V with tape and had similar results.
One last thing to consider is avoiding the wearing of any of those pants or shorts with the little zippered pocket on the back near the tailbone during situp-heavy WODs. Rubbing against this zipper is sure to cause a wicked rash.
While tape and cushioning may help, the real prevention of The Mark forming will come from maintaining proper form during the entire movement.
If all fails and you do get The Mark, treatment is really no different than a skin rash. Keep it clean and dry, and apply a topical ointment. Diaper rash treatments like Desitin work well as does Aquaphor. Even with treatment, The Mark will take a few days to go away. It literally is a pain in the ass.
The worst part about The Mark is you don’t have a cool injury story you can tell your non-CrossFit friends, and you definitely won’t have a wound you’ll want to show them. You can drop a bar on your head or rip your hands up and have a good war story, but I doubt many of you will drop trou at the water cooler to brag about your butt rash.