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If you follow the CrossFit Games, you may have forgotten who the past winners were, but you likely know who Dan Bailey is. From 2011 to 2015, Bailey made five CrossFit Games appearances and posted five Top 10 finishes. That’s the consistency of a world class athlete, and Bailey—the 2015 Spirit of the Games award winner—certainly fits that description.

Dan definitely strives to be the best, but an untimely pectoral injury in 2017 and a knee injury and labrum surgery in 2018 kept him off the podium.  What sets “the Danimal” apart from other competitors is his ability to overcome setbacks like these injuries.  As seen in this Instagram post, Dan is not deterred by his left arm being immobilized.  Instead, he is working on strengthening the rest of his body while he heals.


Bailey’s example has some good lessons for all of us.  If you’re pushing yourself to be better, there will be times when you will encounter setbacks or maybe even injuries.  This is normal for all sports, not just CrossFit.  How you handle these setbacks is what separates athletes from competitors.

It’s important to get back in the Box and moving around in whatever capacity you are able to, as soon as possible.  Doctors are now prescribing movement for their patients instead of bed rest. Getting the blood flowing and working the affected area helps promote healing and results in a better outcome for the patient.  You’ll find that keeping that body part mobile will speed your recovery and lessen the chances of there being those nagging pains, impingements, etc. found when you sit on your butt waiting to heal.

Getting back into your routine is also good for you mentally.  Exercise is a proven stress reducer.  If you choose to skip out on workouts while you heal, stress builds and before you know it, you start noticing fatigue, headaches, weight gain, sickness, and digestive problems.  It’s almost like withdrawal symptoms from an addiction.  If you let it go too far, Amanda starts putting your picture on milk cartons.  Instead of disappearing and dwelling on your pain, use your workouts to take your mind off the negatives of the setback and focus on what you can do to come back stronger.


One mistake I know I’ve made is going back to exactly what I was doing before an injury.  It may be poor form, inattention to maintaining mobility, lack of consistency of attendance, or a host of other factors that led to the injury.  Instead of returning to bad habits, examine what caused the setback and make changes. It may be changing up your warm up or stretching routine, dropping the weight and focusing on form, or maybe adjusting your diet or sleep patterns.  Making meaningful changes can help prevent you from re-injuring yourself.

Have a plan.  Work with our coaches to develop a strategy to get you back to 100%.  All workouts can be scaled and even if you are in a brace, sling, or cast, there are still exercises you can do. If you aren’t ready for a regular WOD, we can design a program of exercises to get you there.

Dan Bailey has been knocked down time and time again in his pursuit to be the Fittest on Earth.  What sets him apart from others is his determination and will to get back up and come back stronger.  When you find yourself facing a roadblock to your progress what will you choose to do?