Injury & CrossFit Debate

I’ve been doing CrossFit since 2009 when a buddy of mine in the military introduced me to it, and I will be honest with you, I have had some knocks and injuries.

Now 2009, I mostly did bodyweight workouts and a little barbell and kettlebell work tossed in while I was still playing college soccer, but I got deep into CrossFit in the fall of 2010. Since then, I have at minimum done five CrossFit workouts a week, and at times 2-3 workouts a day.

In the last ten years, I easily have close to 3,000 workouts or more under my belt, 20-30 outdoor soccer games a year, and who knows how many indoor soccer games. I’ve competed in all types of fitness competitions, from different races to functional fitness comps, and along the way, I have had to take some time off going 100% due to one thing or another.

I have heard for years that “CrossFit is dangerous,” or “I am going to get injured.” This is unequivocally false and factually incorrect. CrossFit recently won a lawsuit against the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) for pushing false claims that CrossFit is more dangerous (causes more injuries) than other popular fitness programs.

The truth is no matter what fitness program you are into, exercising frequently increases your chances of tweaking something, and the more workouts you do, the more that chance increases. Most trainers use examples like “If you never get into a car, you will probably never get into a car wreck.” The same goes for injuries and exercise.

You can do two things to prevent injury, the first and most important is to work with a competent trainer. Under trained staff is the number one reason people get hurt, and frankly, many poorly run CrossFit gyms (and regular gyms) have under-trained staff in charge of classes full of new exercisers. This could lead to people being injured. Find not only a gym that has coaches with training certificates but also gyms with a legit intern/new hire program. If you have a coach who just walked in off the street or is a member at the gym and goes to a weekend seminar and then is let to run a class, this is a sign of an under trained coach and is dangerous for you.

Also, having a competent trainer means that you will never train your body to complete exhaustion. You will be allowed to push yourself and feel exhausted, but overtraining or overreaching should never happen with an excellent trainer.

Secondly, let a trainer know when you are feeling a tweak or have an injury, and do not be afraid to remind them. A couple of times at I have had someone tell me that they are going to the doctor to have their shoulder looked at, and when I ask them what is up with it, they say, “I don’t know, it has been hurting for a while, and I thought I could push through it.” Do not do this! You pay for the training you are getting, which includes workout modifications. Please do not wait for us to notice you are babying something. Tell us as soon as you feel it, and we will lay off of it or rehab it if we need to.

In the end, most injuries are preventable or treatable. You need to be under a well trained watchful eye, and you need to have excellent communication with your trainers. But understand that if you are getting in 200+ workouts in a year, your chances of catching a knock are higher than those that do less than 100 or none at all.

Be smart, train hard, and be safe.