Fighting Back From Injury: Kristoffer Kjær, Butcher’s Garage (Copenhagen, DK)

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I dislocated my shoulder while doing a snatch grip jerk from behind the neck at a CrossFit competition. I had done a lot of jerks from behind the neck before so the movement was not new to me, and my, at the time, two months old PR was 125 kg. The WOD was simply to establish a 1RM jerk anyhow in approx. 5 minutes, så I knew I had about 4-5 tries. My plan was to do 100, 110, 120 and then go for 130 for a 5 kg PR I had done an easy 110 during the warmup so I knew that 130 was within reach. When the heat started I did a somewhat shaky 100 kg jerk, and quickly moved on to the 110 kg. When I jerked it it started to roll backwards and I remember thinking ’This is light, it is 20 kg from my target, so I’ll just hold on and save it”, but 110 kg is not light by any means and within 0.2 seconds my arm had rolled backwards and the shoulder popped out of the joint. In retrospect it is clear to me that I was so focused on the 130 kg lift that I was about to do, that I did not focus entirely on what I was doing with 100 and 110.

Luckily a couple of physical therapists put it back in place within a couple of minutes and the following day I had it x-rayed to ensure that no bones or tendons had been damaged.

It has only been just over a week since the injury so I am far from being ready to get back in the game, but it is improving and I am probably half way through my ’circle of change’.

At the competition I was very disappointed with myself and disappointed that we were out of the competition that had been going really well up until that point. The following days where my shoulder was in a fixed sling and completely useless I spent a lot of time thinking about how long it would take until I could start rehabbing and how long until I will be able to train Olympic lifting, gymnastics and especially overhead barbell stuff again.

As I said the injury is quite recent, so I still think about these things, however I am focusing on what I can do, trying to stay positive about it and take the time it needs to get better.

Who helped you with the rehabilitation? Did you receive any proffesional treatment ?

I obviously talked to the emergency room doctor, but the advice I got (“Complete rest for 3 weeks, and it’s going to be a LOOONG time until you can start training again”) was relatively useless, and even wrong as I found out when I read up on the recommendations from the Danish Physical Therapist community. I have discussed the injury and rehab procedures with 2-3 friends who are physical therapists and I am going to see a professional PT for an in depth check up and a solid rehab and future injury prevention plan.

I am still dealing with the mental aspect as the injury is quite new, but I try to focus on what I can do right now, and tell myself that even though it feels like a long time, in the bigger picture 4-6 weeks is not going to be a big issue. I am no going to stop training other parts of my body and will keep pushing the envelope to strengthen the shoulder, and I believe that I need to keep going to the gym as much as usual, if nothing else then to hang out, because I do not want to lose my mental commitment to my goals. Training has ups and downs and I think the god athlete is able to stay in it during the tougher periods and keep his/her eyes on the ball.

My first realization in this course of events is that I have now reached a point of fitness and strength that means that my training and lifts are starting to get really dangerous if I loose my focus. It takes full mental awareness and a bigger respect for the lifts. Furthermore, I plan to implement much more joint support exercises, especially for the shoulders, going forward to increase the stability and mobility prevent the injury from coming back.

I am curiously awaiting my reaction to the first heavy overhead lift in a month or two to see what the mental effects have been, and whether I have become afraid of the bar in the meantime. Hopefully not, but I have heard many people say that that is going to be the toughest part.

What is your best tip for someone having a similar injury/experience?

Get it checked ASAP, spend the money on a physical therapist and respect the time it takes for the injury to heal. Hopefully I will be able to follow the last part of this advice myself.


Dislocating your shoulder means your arm bone has popped out of its shoulder socket and the supporting tissues may have overstretched or torn.

The shoulder is one of the easiest joints to dislocate. This is because the top of the arm bone, which is shaped like a ball, sits in a very shallow socket. While this makes the arm extremely mobile and able to move in many directions, it also means that it’s not very stable.


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