OC Sports & Rehab

Dangers of Crossfit Training

CrossFit: It’s cool, it’s fun, its challenging, it’s effective. However, unfortunately, it can also be dangerous. Like any activity, it can lead to serious injury if not practiced safely and appropriately. For those who don’t know, CrossFit is a fitness routine consisting of a variety of functional movements, including powerlifting, gymnastic-like movements, cardio training, and plyometrics (jump training).
When many people first begin doing CrossFit, they fall in love with it. It can become addicting. It’s intense, competitive, and exhilarating. They become part of a community at their local CrossFit gym, and become attached to this style of training. This isn’t necessarily bad. Again, CrossFit is very effective and there is a familial aspect that instills accountability and consistency. However,  to some CrossFit has become the “black sheep” of the health and fitness industry because the number of injuries it creates. While there is the obviously inherent risk of injury in every sport, there has been tons of debate on the scope of a CrossFit workout, and further, a concern about the education of the instructors who lead them. Now, research has shown that CrossFit is not inherently more dangerous than other sports similar to it, such as weightlifting or gymnastics. However, CrossFit is an intense activity often taken up by the general population, with no formal training in these other sports. The lack of training coupled with intense workouts can lead to wear-and-tear of your joints. On top of that, the innate desire to perform competitively within this community you’ve become a part of can cause people to overexert themselves to finish the WOD, workout of the day, which can subsequently lead to an injury.
Many patients come into the clinic with very similar stories and injuries. They present with rotator cuff tears, low back strains, wrist and ankle sprains, and many others. They often occur when performing unfamiliar movements or when trying to outdo one’s self or someone else. They tend to be a result of inappropriate application of the FITT principle; Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.

Tips for Safe CrossFit Training

Now, Rather than write CrossFit off altogether and avoid it, instead I want to share some tips that can help you stay injury-free!
1. Choose a CrossFit gym that employs coaches who are educated and attentive. AN experienced instructor should be able to make appropriate modifications for those with pre-existing injuries and age-related limitations. They should have formal education in human anatomy and strength and conditioning training as well as relevant experience in coaching and instructing exercise.
2. Choose a gym that tailored to your specific training level. If you’re a novice, do some research and find a gym that practices the fundamentals. If you’re a professional powerlifter, seek out a more intense and competitive one.
3. Leave your pride at the door. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Understand your limitations and scale your WOD accordingly. You might slay some workouts and struggle to finish others. That’s okay. You know your body better than anyone else, so listen to it.
4. Focus on form. Quality > quantity.
5. Incorporate other things like rotator cuff strengthening and core-stabilization exercises for both the abdomen and back musculature. If you don’t know if any, ask your coach. If they can’t help you, find a new gym.
6. Consistently work on your flexibility and mobility. You have to have good range of motion in the joints you are working. If you don’t, you are putting yourself more at risk for injury.
7. Finally, understand that you are your biggest cheerleader and your own worst enemy. Push yourself to get better, faster, and stronger, but be in tune with yourself to know when to stop and give yourself a break. Mental strength is as important as physical strength, so treat it as such.
One fact cannot be ignored: many Cross-Fitters injure themselves at some point. Some minor, some major, but they do occur. That doesn’t mean that CrossFIt should be avoided all together by any means. However, the fact of the matter is that many of these injuries can be avoided all together with proper training and education. This responsibility should fall on both the instructors and the members. By creating an environment that is both encouraging and safe, CrossFit can remain a great choice for the general population to utilize for their fitness regimen. If you or someone you know has acquired a CrossFit injury, come see us at OC Sports & Rehab. We can evaluate the injury and design a rehab program tailored specifically to you and your needs!
For more Tips for Safe CrossFit Training contact:
Cary Costa PT