Proceed with caution: Injury Prevention in CrossFit

CrossFit is a relatively new exercise concept that is changing the way many fitness gurus and weekend warriors approach their training. Its use of ballistic motions with little or no recovery time between varied exercises creates a high-intensity workout that builds strength and endurance and is anything but mundane. And while CrossFit can produce some impressive fitness gains, the risk of injury is ever-present.

John Brown, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with The CORE Institute who specializes in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder, knee and ankle, cautions CrossFit comrades to proceed with caution.

“As with any exercise program, pre-activity warm up, proper form and suitable weight levels are critical to preventing injury during CrossFit.”


Risk Factors

CrossFit is centered on performing high-intensity exercises that must be completed within a specific time frame. As a result, pulled muscles, joint injuries and fatigue can be common.


Critical considerations for CrossFit

  • Warm up! CrossFit is a high-demand training program, so participants must prepare the muscles and joints for activity. Brief stretching and a light aerobic warm up before a workout can help spare you from injury.
  • Focus on form. When fatigue sets in, form often suffers and with poor form comes an increased risk of injury. CrossFit injuries usually target the shoulders, knees and back, and they often result from a failure to maintain proper form.
  • Know your weights. Weight lifting is a big part of CrossFit. It’s tempting to push yourself to outperform others and/or speed up the results, but doing so generally results in pain and injury. The CrossFit program naturally builds with time. Don’t push yourself to lift more weight than your body is ready to handle.
  • Know your gym and confide in your trainer. Research shows that supervision from a qualified CrossFit trainer is one of the most important factors in minimizing injury. When choosing a gym, confirm it has CrossFit Level 1 certification and that trainers are readily accessible and available to answer your questions and provide support. Trainers can be a great resource for questions related to warm ups, form, lifting levels and more.

CrossFit can be a fun and effective exercise endeavor, but be sure to proceed with caution or you may find yourself on the sidelines.