CrossFit and the Risk of Injury

Google “CrossFit and injuries” and the internet will spit back over 800,000 results. A lot of people don’t like CrossFit and argue that its methodology is a recipe for injury. Just as many people disagree. Any activity carries with it an inherent risk of injury. Whether you are stepping on a skateboard for your first time or your hundredth time, risk of injury is real. As a trainer and CrossFit coach who has been in the fitness business for nearly 20 years I can see both sides of the injury argument. In the case of CrossFit the blame lies on the shoulders of both the athlete and the trainer.

Always consider your fitness levels and any limitations when it comes to CrossFit

Always consider your fitness levels and any limitations when it comes to CrossFit

Let’s start with the athlete. Anyone can go to CrossFit.com and do the posted workout. It doesn’t matter if that person can’t do a proper deadlift or squat. The risk of injury here comes from a lack of knowledge. CrossFit.com does an excellent job of posting technique videos, but the average person doing these workouts in his garage is likely unaware of how crappy his technique is.

There is also the issue of scaling a workout. The responsibility for scaling a workout lies with the athlete, not CrossFit. Many injuries are the result of lifting too much, doing too many rounds or, as stated before, crappy technique. The average Joe working out in his garage may look at “Cindy” and think it’s okay to do the workout as prescribed. Without taking into consideration current fitness level and any pre-existing limitations attempting this workout “as rx’d” is dangerous. The guy working out in his garage needs to set his ego aside and say “I’m new to this style of fitness so I’ll do ten minutes.”

Trainers need to take some of the blame for injuries. Not all CrossFit coaches are good ones. Anyone with a thousand bucks and a weekend to spare can become a Level 1 coach. The Level 1 trainer course only serves as an introduction to the movements and methods central to CrossFit. It is by no means comprehensive. Spotting improper technique and correcting it takes experience. A good coach will make sure each athlete under her watch executes movements properly and that workouts are scaled appropriately. She will also know how to push an athlete hard enough to improve fitness but not so hard that an injury is inevitable.

It is possible to balance safety with intensity. Whether you are working out in your garage or at an affiliate you need to start slowly. Take the time to learn the basics. If you haven’t mastered the squat, deadlift and shoulder press you are not ready to attempt a clean and jerk. Practice movement progressions in your warm up and you will master complicated skills. Proper technique always trumps speed. It is better to perform a workout slower with correct form than have a fast time with crappy technique. There is no shame in scaling a workout. Scaling a workout down in your early days of CrossFit means you can scale up safely and effectively as your fitness improves. A good coach will tell you as much.

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  1. […] Google “CrossFit and injuries” and the internet will spit back over 800,000 results. A lot of people don’t like CrossFit and argue that its methodology is a recipe for injury. Just as many people disagree. Any activity carries with it an inherent risk of injury. Whether you are stepping on a skateboard for your first time or your hundredth time, risk of injury is real. As a trainer and CrossFit coach who has been in the fitness business for nearly 20 years I can see both sides of the injury argument. In the case of CrossFit the blame lies on the shoulders of both the athlete and the trainer… Read More! […]



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