CrossFit… Maybe not so dangerous after all

Rates and risk factors of injury in CrossFit: A prospective cohort study

 BY DR. KYLE BANGS

Nervous about getting injured during your journey with CrossFit? Well, more research says that the health and performance benefits of CrossFit outweigh the minimal risks.

A study published in early 2017 in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness followed 117 CrossFit participants for 3 months, to determine the injury risk of CrossFit, and identify the pre-existing risk factors among participants. The overall rates of injuries for CrossFit were found to be very low at about 2.1 injuries per 1000 training hours; comparable to many other forms of training including running, triathlons, and weightlifting and much lower than most amateur team sports. When injuries did occur, most involved the low back, knees, and wrists. They usually occurred during weight lifting movements, especially the squat but also deadlifting and overhead pressing exercises. Other studies have found the shoulders are more frequently injured with CrossFit, as well.

Are you at an increased risk for injury? The study suggests that any one of this factors may put you in greater risk of injury.

  1. Are you a man?
  2. Do you have previous injuries?
  3. Do you have asymmetries with the “Functional Movement Screen” OR “FMS”

By the way, did we mention Dr. Kyle is offering Functional Movement Screens at Function Performance.

Male athletes in this study (and in previous CrossFit injury studies) were found “very likely” to have an increased risk of injury compared to females regardless of other variables. Previous research has investigated this heightened male risk. They found that men are less likely to ask a coach for help during lifts, resulting in poor form, or progressing too quickly to higher loads.

Participants with a prior injury (within the last 6 months) was another strong risk factor for increased likelihood of injury. This is no surprise as injuries and pain can alter the way the body moves, even after the injury subsides. Often times the factors that lead one to get injured are not adequately addressed during the healing and rehabilitation phases after an injury. This may have something to do with the next risk factor as well.

The last factor that could lead to an increased risk of injury was found to be the number of asymmetries on the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). The FMS is a short assessment of your quality of movement and is able to show where your personal movement quality falls short. FMS screening scores have been shown to be associated with injury risk in several sports and activities, especially when athletes demonstrate asymmetry in movement.

Bottom Line? When considering the evidence, CrossFit is considered as safe as most fitness related activities. What can you do to reduce the risk of injury even further?

  • Focus on the quality of your lifts before you start pushing for number (weight/repetition) goals. If you’re unsure about a movement or lift, ask the coach for some 1 on 1 help with it before attempting to load it. If you ever think “I wonder if I’m doing this right,” then it’s time to ask for some feedback.
  • If you’ve had an injury in the past, get it evaluated by a healthcare practitioner that you trust. Pain alters your quality of movement, and those movement changes can persist long past an injury is healed.
  • Have your movement screened. An FMS screen can be a quick way to determine how your body moves and will find the big differences between your right and left sides that could increase your risk of injury. With an FMS screen, you’ll get a few corrective exercises that you can work into a warm-up to start addressing these issues on your own.

REFERENCES

Hak, P. T., Hodzovic, E., & Hickey, B. (2013). The nature and prevalence of injury during CrossFit training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000318 [doi]

Klimek, C., Ashbeck, C., Brook, A. J., & Durall, C. (2017). Are injuries more common with CrossFit training than other forms of exercise? Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, , 1-17. doi:10.1123/jsr.2016-0040 [doi]

Moran, S., Booker, H., Staines, J., & Williams, S. (2017). Rates and risk factors of injury in CrossFit: A prospective cohort study. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, doi:10.23736/S0022-4707.16.06827-4 [doi]

Weisenthal, B. M., Beck, C. A., Maloney, M. D., DeHaven, K. E., & Giordano, B. D. (2014). Injury rate and patterns among CrossFit athletes. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 2(4), 2325967114531177. doi:10.1177/2325967114531177 [doi]

  • Cree N.8/10/2019

    Customer service definitely deserves more than 5 stars. These people are so dang nice and knowledgable! Be prepared for them to over-exceed your expectations. Highly recommend!!

  • Terry C.2/26/2020

    Dr. Ben and Kyle are very knowledgable and personable. I have been going to Function Performance for almost a year now and every problem I bring they not only focus on the issue but also educate me on how to strengthen and prevent the problem in the future.

    Would recommend!

  • Oregon F.1/15/2020

    My first trip to see Function Performance Sport Chiropractic was prompted by some neck/back issues I was having. I was scheduled to lead a course training a special forces team on breath holding and so needed to be on top of my game. I was amazed how good I felt leaving the first appointment and was able to sneak in a second before my flight. Excited to make them a regular part of my own training and well being. Just visited them yesterday in preparation for my course this weekend in Hawaii. Great staff and great atmosphere.

  • Jesse P.12/04/2019

    Dr Ben and his staff are amazing! They really care about you as the patient. I trust him, as the goals I have for my body align with his. He's not just a doctor but an athlete as well, so he understands and cares about what I'm asking my body to do. Dr Ben has gone above and beyond to help me get out of pain and get my body functioning better so that I can enjoy the activities that I want to do. He and Kyle have given me suggestions, tools , and knowledge for me to improve my bodies performance on my own.

  • Andrew S.6/14/2019

    I’ve had a great experience with my treatment at Functional Performance. The whole staff is very nice and professional. The type of treatments that are prescribed are not from your typical chiropractor. They are very well versed in modern approaches to full body fitness and can combine strength training and mobility work to make you move better all around. I definitely recommend using their services.

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