With the exception of signing up for a military boot camp, CrossFit training offers results that surpass virtually any other exercise regimen. It seems everyone knows someone who got in shape with CrossFit and the craze continues to grow.
“CrossFit seems to have literally conquered the world of fitness,” announced an article on ESPN.go.com. “As the sport has gone to the masses, it seems to be drawing more attention from fitness and medical professionals concerned about safety. They say they are struck by the number of patients/clients who say they were injured doing CrossFit.”
Do an online search for CrossFit injuries and you’ll find thousands of references with diverse opinions about whether or not it is safe for average weekend warriors. The debate won’t be easily resolved. Whether or not CrossFit is too dangerous, it is worth noting there are now doctors and clinics that cater specifically to CrossFit injuries.
CrossFit participants need to recognize, just like any other vigorous physical activity, a risk of injury exists — particularly for people who aren’t adequately prepared or who overexert themselves. Before beginning CrossFit training (or if you’ve already managed to hurt yourself) a visit to a physician who works extensively with sports injuries and pain management could be well-advised.
Like most sports, there are two general categories of injuries in CrossFit: overuse and immediate. As the names imply, one occurs from too much repetition while the other tends to be more catastrophic.
Tendonitis is usually an overuse injury that can occur anyplace tendons connect muscle to bone. It is most often caused by repetitive, minor impact on the affected area. Elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and Achilles are common problem sites. The inflamed tendon can cause pain ranging from nagging to severe. Tendonitis can take months to overcome. Recovery requires resting the injured area.
With overexertion, muscle strains, pulls and tears are common. Most of the time, they can be treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation. More serious situations require medical attention and possible assistance devices like braces, slings, crutches, etc.
Shoulder injuries can be serious. Torn labrums or rotator cuffs can require surgery to repair. Proper stretching along with flexibility drills are key to avoiding shoulder problems.
Squats, jumps and other various other CrossFit movements give knees a pounding. The potential knee injuries that can occur during exercise are too numerous to list.
“If you experience knee pain, the best thing you can do is see a doctor,” notes MensFitness.com. “If you’ve been diligent about exercise for a long time, a week off for rest and recovery might be the best thing you can (do), whether you’ve come down with an injury or not.”
Pain in the lower back can be the sign of a serious injury. In 2014, a CrossFit athlete severed his spine during a fitness competition in Southern California. While such a serious injury is certainly atypical, lesser back problems are common. In fact, a University of Maryland Medical Center article reports 80 percent of people will have a back injury at some time and athletes have the greatest risk.
If you injure your back during CrossFit, it is important to get a medical evaluation to assess the situation and to make certain you do not increase the severity of the injury. Lower back sprains are the most common problem and they often occur from improper lifting techniques or from trying to lift too much weight.
With more than 13,000 affiliates across the world, the CrossFit movement is not going away anytime soon. As a result, people will continue to get injured, just as they do in any high intensity, high impact physical activity.
When those injuries occur, the best course of action is to work with a physician group that understands how to deal with the pain and rehabilitation of sports injuries. It’s your best chance to avoid additional injury and to get you back to your previous activity level.
Dr. Alex Bigham is the owner and CEO of Novocur Pain Management Clinics and has over 18 years of health care experience in private practice and Ambulatory Surgical Center settings. Novocur offers advanced treatment options in a concierge type practice without the concierge price tag. Dr. Bigham appears frequently on local TV and radio programs to discuss the latest in Pain Management or related health topics.