Let me start out this post by saying that as a chiropractor, one of my specialties is treating CrossFit athletes. With all the injured CrossFit patients I see, you may imagine that I might not be a big fan of the sport. On the contrary, I am an enthusiastic CrossFitter and so is my wife. My practice actually shares a building with a CrossFit box (the wonderful CrossFit Barracks run by my good friends Jared and Mallory San Nicolas).
I work with so many CrossFit athletes precisely because I am passionate about the sport and have many contacts in the community. I participate in CrossFit, because I believe it is the best way to increase my fitness in a challenging and rewarding environment.
With all that said, is CrossFit dangerous? Yes, to some extent, but so is every sport. Lifting a heavy box and putting it on a shelf is also dangerous. Whenever you move, you put yourself at some risk of injury.
As CrossFit has grown in leaps in bounds over the last few years (there are currently over6,000 affiliate CrossFit boxes around the world), I’ve seen and heard more concerns raised about the safety of CrossFit. Let’s be honest – the sport of CrossFit involves athletes moving heavy weights and performing highly-technical movements. Combine heavy weights and technical movements with bad technique and injuries are likely to occur.
But wait, notice the third ingredient in my list for instant injury – poor technique. The most common injuries in CrossFit occur when someone tries to do something that they are not trained for or perform a move with poor technique – usually both. I’ve found that whenever a sport calls for lifting heavy weights or doing challenging moves, there is invariably a contingent of athletes who will try to lift more weight than they can do so safely or will try to perform difficult moves before they have mastered the correct technique.
These types of injuries are not indicative that the sport is inherently flawed or dangerous; only that it requires athletes to train and perform smart. There is no movement in CrossFit that I consider to be highly dangerous if performed with good technique. Even cleaning, snatching or deadlifting hundreds of pounds can be completely safe if the athlete uses the correct technique and can physically accommodate the weight.
Unfortunately, CrossFit injuries will continue to occur. In some instances, coaches may allow athletes to progress too quickly or will not correct poor posture. In other instances, and athlete will make a poor decision on which weights to choose. There are always those who will try to go too heavy, too fast. These are the athletes who will eventually end up on a chiropractor’s table.
Poor technique causes injury in every sport. CrossFit seems more dangerous, because of the combination of heavy weight and difficult lifts, but the core cause of most injuries is shared through every sport.
I encourage those who are looking to improve their fitness in a friendly and supportive environment to give CrossFit a try. Just remember that good form should always take priority over adding more weight, going faster or trying a more advanced version of a movement. Also, if you are already misaligned, as many people are, and you participate in a sport, such as CrossFit, you will likely become injured regardless. That’s why it is important to see a chiropractor even if you don’t have any current pain (more on this topic in a future post).
My chiropractic office is located in San Diego in the 4S Ranch area. I treat many CrossFit athletes, along with men and women of all ages and fitness levels in San Diego, Poway, Rancho Penasquitos, Rancho Santa Fe and Escondido. Please stop by for a free consultation if you want to live pain free.