Is Crossfit the most dangerous workout there is?

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I love hearing that my lifestyle involves the “most dangerous workout” there is!  When catching back up with friends from home in Florida we do the usual back in forth of:

“How are you doing?”

“I’m doing great, and you?”

“I’m doing well as well…”

But the next question that I often get is, “What have you been doing to stay in shape?”  I tell them I have been doing Crossfit pretty religiously for the past year and a half.  Having a background in Olympic lifting (thanks to a father who pushed me to be the best athlete I could be, by starting “oly” lifting during high school) gave me a little bit of a leg up, and being a former division 2 college baseball player I found myself craving the competitive atmosphere a Crossfit Gym delivers.

After I stop babbling about Crossfit, I tend to get the question, “Being a doctor aren’t you worried about getting injured? Crossfit is so dangerous!”

Crossfit has been shown in one study that, Crossfit-Based High-Intensity Power Training Improves Maximal Aerobic Fitness and Body Composition. Currently there are no Peer Reviewed Journal Articles that can definitively state that Crossfit leads to more injuries than other conventional strength training. This is something that could use studying in the future. I’ve thought about this for some time now and here are my recommendations on this:
Crossfit is just as dangerous as someone following their own training program in the gym. The key to staying injury free is finding a gym that really takes pride in coaching perfect form and techinique.

  • A good Crossfit coach is going to sacrifice a new personal record (which feels amazing to accomplish) for doing the exercises with correct form.
  • A good Crossfit coach is going to work with you when your technique on your squat is just a little bit off (ie: curving your back when driving out of the hole).
  • A good Crossfit coach is going to put you through a good warm-up and several mobility exercises to ensure that your muscles aren’t cold and susceptible to sprains and strains.

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This is what people should look for when joining a Crossfit gym – coaches and a community that cares.  They should find a gym that has beginner classes/elements courses that walk you through all the movements that Crossfit will involve.  Every movement in Crossfit can be modified to someone’s capabilities. For instance, if pull-ups are something that you just can’t do, then a good gym and coach will modify the exercise. Generally, they will give you a band to use in order to strengthen the muscles that are weak (I personally think a pull up is a goal that everyone should set to accomplish. You never know when you may be required to pull yourself to safety…)

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A coach that you do not want is the one that will encourage you to push through a repetition with improper form.  A coach who pays more attention to his phone during the workout, than your curled back as you do a deadlift.  A coach who would rather be elsewhere when teaching the class.  A coach who just tells you to limber up on your own. These gyms and coaches are few and far between, but as the saying goes “One bad apple gives the whole bunch a bad name!” and I believe this is why Crossfit gets a bad name from time to time.

I believe that if you find the Crossfit gym and/or coach that are right for you, you’ll find that there is a smaller chance of injury than potentially doing workouts incorrectly on your own. The added bonus of finding a good community and friends is also very beneficial to ones overall health!

REMEMBER, Crossfit is what YOU make of it, don’t let other athletes in the gym dictate YOUR fitness goals!

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About rontorrancedo

Sports Medicine Fellow. Co-owner Crossfit Love. Director Love Nutrition. Medical Director CEC. Physician at Ondemand Urgent Care.

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