By now you’ve probably heard of CrossFit which seems to be one of the latest fitness crazes that is sweeping the nation. ESPN recently aired the CrossFit Games further escalating the workout’s popularity and causing more and more people to be looking for a good WOD.
So what is it?
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that was founded in 2000 by Ramy Assad. According to the company’s website, the program consists of “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains … with the stated goal of improving fitness.” The circuit-style program combines body-weight exercises (push-ups, box jumps, pull ups, etc…), distance movements (rowing, sprints), and movement with weights (deadlift, kettlebell swing, squats, etc…) into what’s known as the “WOD” (Workout of the Day).
What are the 3 most common injuries associated with this style of workout?
I recently asked strength and conditioning expert Bob Bateson, BS, CSCS, RSCC, *E this question and here is his answer. “Typically we see injuries in the knee area, lower back, and shoulders.” According to Bob, these injuries are the result of improper movements when performing the various exercises involved in crossfit. “Failing to get your body into the proper position during an exercise places excess strain on the joints, ligaments, and tendons and causes the rest of the body to compensate,” says Bateson. “This creates a type of chain reaction within the body and often leads to injuries.” What’s worse, says Bateson, is that “if the form and movement is not properly corrected, the improper movement gets embedded in the muscle memory and becomes more difficult to correct down the road.”
So how do we prevent CrossFit injuries?
Bob reminds us that the people we see doing CrossFit on ESPN are professional athletes who typically have an extensive background and foundation in strength training and Olympic-style weightlifting. “Many of the injuries mentioned above occur when beginner or intermediate athletes attempt advanced routines without that solid foundation. When individuals at this level train, it’s important that they go through each exercise in the routine slowly at first; paying attention to each movement and ensuring that the body is in the proper position,” says Bateson. According to Bob, many trainers and athletes become so focused on getting through the prescribed number of reps/sets that form becomes almost secondary or an afterthought. Bob says that he prefers to work with his clients in small groups which enables him to pay attention to each individual and correct their form regularly. He told us that, “as the muscles fatigue, form begins to deteriorate and that is why it is so important to take the time to ensure that the form and movement are perfect in the beginning.” He ended by saying that the best way to avoid injuries is to work with a trainer or an educated spotter whenever possible. This person should be able to spot improper form and movements and should help you correct them immediately.
The bottom line.
Like most things in life, CrossFit requires a solid foundation based on the fundamentals. Once these have been established and reinforced through repetition and practice, participants should be able to enjoy the benefits of this high intensity workout with a limited risk of injury.
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