Is Crossfit Safe?
Is CrossFit safe for me?
There is inherent risk to any action or inaction that you might take. The question becomes does the value outweigh the harm? CrossFit, like any physical activity carries risk for injury. We must weigh this risk for injury against your risk for inactivity and the significant physical harms this will cause, namely obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression.
What is the risk?
There are studies that have attempted to answer this exact question. Him an article published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine titled, “A 4-Year Analysis of the Incidence of Injuries Among CrossFit-Trained Participants,” the CrossFit training was relatively safe compared to other physical training routines however individuals in their 1st year of training as well as those participating less than 3 days per week or at greater risk for injury. The most common injuries were to the shoulders (39%), back (36%), knees (15%), elbows (12%), and wrists (11%), which is in line with our experience working with CrossFit athletes. Another article published in the orthopedic Journal of sports medicine titled, “Likelihood of Injury and Medical Care Between CrossFit and Traditional Weightlifting Participants,” found that CrossFit athletes were more likely to be injured and seek medical treatment compared with participants in traditional weightlifting. It was further noted that the intensity in which exercises performed may have increased the likelihood for injury rather than the exercises themselves.
How can I avoid injury and what should I do if I feel pain?
While looking for the right CrossFit gym some important factors to look for include the ratio of coaches to CrossFit athletes. A lower ratio will allow the coaches to hone in on your specific movements and give individualized tailored guidance. Another factor to look for is consistency of coaching. This could include receiving individualized help as well as turnover rate of coaches. A coach who is able to observe you more frequently will be able to hold in your weightlifting movements to achieve better performance as well as clued safer lifting techniques. Coaches job is to push you and motivate you to perform at your best. They should not however include making you uncomfortable or pushing you beyond your acceptable limits or goals. This of course is a fine line and active communication is always best practice to avoid unwanted feelings of discomfort.
If you do begin to develop pain calling a sports trained physical therapist can help alleviate the pain, and develop a plan to keep you active will reducing your risk for injury yourself. Our experience with CrossFit athletes is that often times after a proper physical therapy evaluation, the athlete does not need to cease all exercise activity. Rather modifications to the program can be made to ensure ongoing physical activity and significant reduced risk of injury. The ultimate goal is to keep you active and healthy. We have found that this can often be done in as little as 1-3 visits of physical therapy which can be completed at your home, office, or gym and on your schedule.
The Bottom Line
CrossFit can be a safe and healthy exercise choice for healthy living.
Careful selection of your CrossFit gym can make a big difference.
There is a risk of injury with many physical activities which can be alleviated with proper coaching and training.
If you do develop an injury or pain physical therapy can help keep you active.