CrossFit has turned working out into a sport. As a sport, It’s relatively new compared to other sports that have been around for a long time like basketball, baseball, and football. People that jump into most new sports without proper training can be injured at a higher rate than those that train properly. Since Crossfit training involves movements that are new to many people such as kipping pull-ups, toes-to-bars, olympic lifts, gymnastics ring work and much more, I’m not surprised that injuries occur, especially without proper training.
Any complex movement that hasn’t been done before that requires a certain amount of strength and mobility can cause injuries if not done in the correct way with the proper progression exercises. Most Crossfit classes have people of all different levels of experience and training so individuals must recognize what they are and aren’t capable of performing during training.
Coaches and instructors should recognize each and every person’s different skill level and provide them with the correct progressions and instructions before proceeding with the workout. Unfortunately, this is not realistic due to time constraints and the fact that there is only 1 coach versus many students with their own learning methodologies, intelligence, and ego.
The Way I Look at Physical Training
I look at pain, injuries, and tweaks during training as a way to reveal your weaknesses and what you should be working on. Muscle soreness or DOMS is normal. I don’t count that as something I should really be concerned about. It may just be an exercise or muscle group you haven’t worked on in a while (or ever, in some cases) so just keep working on that muscle group regularly and you’ll get sore less. When you stop getting sore, then it may be time to up the intensity, weight or volume of that exercise.
Tendon and joint pain can be more serious and should really be a signal to yourself you may be doing something wrong. Maybe your mobility and flexibility aren’t quite there yet. Maybe you’re too weak in certain areas and you need to get stronger before attempting certain movements. Sometimes weakness in specific muscle groups can cause overcompensation in other muscle groups and tendons which leads to pain or injury to those groups.
I’ve had tendonitis in the inner and outer elbow for years. It’s also known as tennis elbow and golf elbow. It’s been progressively getting better even though I’ve been working out on a regular basis. Instead of letting it rest and not working out, I study the causes of this and see how it’s applicable to me. Then I work on those physical issues. If you perform a quick google search on elbow tendonitis, you’ll find hundreds of videos and articles about the potential causes. Maybe one or more of those causes is why you have tendonitis or maybe it’s not as relevant to you like other’s who suffer similar injuries. Either way, you should review the information out there you deem relevant and of good quality and test out the recommended solutions to see if it helps you in your own case.
The fact that I have a deeper understanding of the potential causes of my tendonitis has helped me in utilizing proper form in exercises as well as in the recovery and rehabilitation process. Even when you decide to see a physical therapist or doctor, having knowledge of your specific injury will help assist you in recovery.
Signs that a Crossfit Gym Cares about The Lower Occurrence of Injuries
As a participant in CrossFit, I see many potential simple solutions that can help prevent injuries if implemented consistently. Some Crossfit boxes and coaches and owners implement these, but rarely consistently. Here are some signs that a CrossFit gym is concerned about keeping you injury free:
- They have beginner classes where athletes are trained on the progression and scaled versions of all the core CrossFit movements before joining the more advanced classes.
- They have a checklist of progressions that should be accomplished before the athlete can move on to the actual movement. This information can be stored electronically and be individualized for each athlete. It also allows the athlete to track their progress.
- They have beginners view a video on the basics of CrossFit movements before attending even their first beginner class. Many people don’t know much about CrossFit and its methodology and just join because of the fact that it is the closest or most convenient gym to their location.
- They make sure athletes have the strength and mobility to perform certain movements. After class, the coach should give additional exercises the athlete should do regularly on their own time so they can better prepare for training.
- They consistently assess the background and goals of the athlete and regularly following up with them. This can help inform the coaches of issues the athlete may be physically having.
You are ultimately responsible for your own safety, training, and recovery. Some coaches are great at spotting weaknesses and helping you adapt to different exercises and some coaches are not as great. Besides providing the gym with feedback and hoping they change or leaving the gym and joining another gym, you really don’t have much control over the quality of coaches and how they program. You only have control over how you approach training and how much time you put into learning about your own body, physical training, and physical therapy.
Be responsible for your own safety, progression and training by asking the right questions and by learning the relevant information and you will be better off than the others who just join the closest gym and pray that they are in good hands.
Because of the hype of the “Crossfit Cult” these past years, it’s cool, fun or at the very least topical to bash on Crossfit and say it causes injuries and is “bad for you”. In reality, those who talk shit about Crossfit most likely don’t have a very deep knowledge of Crossfit’s mission statement and training methodologies. Crossfit is like any other sport, injury is a risk. The only time you don’t risk physical injury is if you don’t do shit for physical activity. The truth is Crossfit injuries are as common as injuries in most other sports that involve complex movements or strenuous activity.