Over the past few months I have seen an increase in the number of patients coming into the office with injuries sustained from a CrossFit or P90X workout.
The sudden increase in injuries associated with these high-intensity groups, or extreme conditioning programs, leads many to wonder if they are safe. In my opinion, it can be safe and effective as long as appropriate precautions are taken.
Who may be at risk for injury?
- Flexibility is extremely important. To ensure proper form, above-average mobility in the ankles, hips and thoracic spine is necessary. So anyone who has postural deficits or tightness in muscles limiting their range of motion maybe at increased risk for injury.
- Prior history of overuse injury such as shoulder or knee tendonitis.
- A deconditioned athlete.
To prevent injury, here are some tips:
- There are often not enough trainers in each class to supervise and critique each participant adequately. It is important to meet with a trainer prior to beginning the program to review the different exercises and proper techniques. Keep in mind that someone can become a level-one CrossFit instructor in a weekend course. Choose an experienced trainer, especially if you have a history of musculoskeletal injuries.
- Allow time for stretching before and after class. Not all classes make time for stretching so it is extremely important to make sure you allow enough time prior to each class.
- Perfect form. It is better to perform the exercises at a lower weight with perfect technique for each repetition than to increase the weight to complete 1 or 2 reps with poor technique. It is often during those 1 or 2 poor reps that injuries occur.
- Listen to your body. If you experience pain with a specific exercise, first modify your form. If the pain continues you will need to stop that exercises temporarily. Stop, if you experience nagging pain as it may lead to more serious issues that may leave you out of commission for a while.
The most common injuries I've seen in my clinic from these types of workouts seem to affect the low back, knees, and shoulders. So please take extra precautions if you have had any previous injuries to your knee, shoulder or back. If you have any questions regarding starting a CrossFit program and/or symptoms you may be experiencing please contact your physician or physical therapist.