CrossFit | CrossFit Health Panel: Wearables

CrossFit Health Panel: Wearables

ByCrossFit October 7, 2021
Found in:211008,Health


Julie Foucher, MD, Family Physician
Kristen Holmes, Whoop VP of Performance Science
Josh Clemente, Levels Founder and President
Nick Nwabueze, MD, SteadyMD Physician
Katina Thornton, MD, Anesthesiologist
Mike Mallin, MD, CrossFit Precision Care

“Even if I’m coming off a post-call shift at the hospital, and I’m only running on three hours of sleep, in my mind, I should still be able to deadlift 500 pounds. Why can’t I pick up this bar?” asks Nick Nwabueze, MD.

During a panel discussion of healthcare practitioners and data experts speaking on wearables, Dr. Nwabueze shares that being able to quantify health and recovery metrics has been a game changer for improving his athletic performance. The panel was part of a series of conversations hosted by CrossFit Health at the 2021 CrossFit Games, with Dr. Julie Foucher moderating.

The other panelists agree that tracking and managing recovery is a critical part of improving future performance, and the more personalized, the better.

“We can actually track recovery, and that’s going to lead to performance down the road, instead of tracking just performance,” says Mike Mallin, MD.

In this conversation, the panelists provide insights on several different types of wearable devices, including trackers for workouts, sleep, recovery, and blood glucose. They share which metrics they find most useful to track, why personalized data and experimentation is so crucial for improving health and performance, and actionable tips individuals can use to improve their biomarkers.


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Quinn McCutchen
October 8th, 2021 at 2:56 pm
Commented on: CrossFit Health Panel: Wearables

Good stuff, thank you for this and the other medical and physiology-based presentations. Knowledge is power to make beneficial adjustments in training and lifestyle.

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Chris Sinagoga
October 8th, 2021 at 3:57 am
Commented on: CrossFit Health Panel: Wearables

Right off the rip I'll admit that I have a bias against wearables because they distract me; they're not allowed in our gym (along with phones) and I even made an unprofessional innuendo/acronym for them. I definitely side with Mr. Weasley from Chamber of Secrets, "Ginny... What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain!" That being said, I'm glad I watched this because it made me really think about the topic again, which I haven't done since 2019.

I think the best part of this segment was the first question of the Q&A where the panelists were giving input on what to teach/practice if we didn't have a wearable device. Eating the real food before dessert and breathing through your nose, in particular, are things I'll be more aware of. Also putting your fingers to your neck and taking your heart rate in the morning. That empowers me! I also understand that that advice was given based on what they observed through tons of readings from the devices, so I can see how they find them useful.

Lately I've been obsessed with athletes building independence (inspired by our sudden influx of travel soccer girls) and it seems these devices encourage the opposite. In the end, shouldn't the goal of a wearable device be for a person to not need a wearable device? A scenario I could see these things being a great use would be for a doctor/coach to be like, "Okay dude, you're telling me you're eating all this good stuff and getting your sleep outside the gym, but I'm not seeing the results back that up. Slap this bad boy on your wrist and we'll know for sure." Or maybe for someone who is so out of tune with what their body is telling them that they need a start. I think a good analogy would be sometimes in the gym I'll play a metronome of 180 bmp for about 30 seconds for the athletes to mimic so they can get a feel for what a minimum running cadence needs to be; it's temporary and comes out maybe once a year at the most. What we really need to develop is perception because it will always be ahead of anything we try to measure or coach, and in my experience the quickest way to develop perception is to subtract unnecessary things, not add things.

My gut feeling tells me that in like 50 years we will be looking back on this era and laughing at our attempts to measure all this little stuff about the human body that will probably be always beyond our understanding. "Dude, grandpa, you look so weird with that thing around your wrist!" Every human that has ever walked the earth could eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar, and do constantly varied functional movement at high intensity. CrossFit didn't invent anything, it just highlighted the two biggest factors in our species survival. Keep those two things on top of the health hierarchy and it should take care of most stuff.

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Mike Andridge
October 8th, 2021 at 4:23 pm

Well stated Chris---My personal "Technology" is my Timex ironman wathc:) and my log book.

I teach my students how find their pulse/THR using the fingers on the neck technique and math also.

But if their technology gets them moving and tracking, I'm all for it.

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Marc DeVito
October 8th, 2021 at 6:13 pm

Chris, I agree with you. However, you did note "in like 50 years, we will be looking back on this era" etc...

Given I agree, it will take many years for this to become the norm, i.e. for more and more to return to our more natural state of healthy activity and lifestyle habits (dare I say, perhaps more than 50 years!), having some reproducible measures of our functional (more like dysfunctional) capacities and habits, can perhaps be helpful to "push" the needle on progress towards a healthier community and species. :)

Be well.

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Chris Sinagoga
October 8th, 2021 at 7:23 pm

Good point Marc. I'm with that.

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