“You’re going to get yourself hurt”. When I first started CrossFit, I heard that more times than I could count. Amazingly, it was all from people who had almost no exposure or understanding of CrossFit. So, we are going to talk about the elephant in the room, “Will I get injured doing CrossFit”?
This is obviously a huge topic in the fitness industry, in the CrossFit community as a whole, and in our gym. If you were to search the internet about this topic you would hear plenty of instagram fitness gurus tell you that you’ll likely die if you come to one CrossFit class. However, there are some educated trainers that have some relevant concerns like excessive volume, excessive weight and undereducated trainers that allowing poor mechanics. These things can appear in any type of gym but can be mitigated in a few different ways.
First, we need to talk about what injury means. A workout related injury, 99% of the time, doesn’t mean you tore your shoulders off your body. Typically “injury” is referring to some orthopedic injury like mild elbow tendinitis or the dreaded “my knee is just a little tweaky”. In my going on 7 years of CrossFit, I have had one semi-serious injury and it was because I completely disregarded everything I have ever learned and let my ego get the best of me. Even then I was only partly out of commission for about two weeks.
As mentioned before, if you are looking to avoid injury you need to move well. The easiest way to learn to move correctly is with a trainer. From the warm up all the way to the cool down, all CrossFit classes are lead by a coach. These coaches will review everything and make sure you are scaling the weight and movements appropriately to your skill level. Coaches will also keep an eye on you throughout the class, making sure your technique doesn’t slide and that you leave injury free. Regardless of how good your trainer is, however, you need to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You know the difference between muscle fatigue and feeling like your knee cap is going to blow off your body.
The next thing that needs to be looked at is the program you are following. Is it too much volume or too heavy for you? Fortunately, CrossFit is infinitely scalable. Like we mentioned in the last blog post the volume, weight and range of motion can be scaled for any skill set. Finding the right combination of these things can be difficult. I tell people that they should be aiming to leave here wishing they did a bit more and be detailed in writing down how you scaled the workout. Over time you and your trainer will really get to know how to scale workouts safely and effectively for you.
Whatever program we choose to follow, we need to look to prevent injury as well as be proactive. For example if you are a runner, you absolutely need to strength train in order to physically prepare for the stress on the body. One of the things we do here at CFBF is work closely with Portsmouth Physical Therapy. This weekend we will have our first “Bullet Proof” seminar, focusing on the shoulders. We will look at the anatomy of the shoulder, go over common injuries, and review some movements to strengthen the shoulder.
The truth is that doing any fitness regimen may result in some orthopedic injury. Running, yoga, spin, bicep curls in the mirror at planet fitness, TRX, CrossFit or anything else you can think of can all result in some type of injury. Your choice is to weigh out your options. You could be sedentary, which contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, anxiety and depression, cardiovascular disease, and likely some injury due to muscle atrophy. Or you could get out there and sweat. I’m going to choose the ladder.