CrossFit is a high intensity training regimen designed to push your body farther and harder than you ever thought possible, something that many athletes and non-athletes alike have adopted with enthusiasm. The nature of this training method combined with its increasing popularity have lead to an increased prevalence of CrossFit-related injuries. In fact, according to the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine about 20% of CrossFit participants have injured themselves doing CrossFit.
So how can you continue participating in this highly effective (and addictive) training program, but minimize your risk of injury? Read on for our 5 tips to help avoid Crossfit injuries:
1. Choose your gym wisely
The same study referenced above that found that 20% of CrossFit participants have injured themselves found that one overwhelming item can make a difference in preventing injuries: having a great CrossFit coach. Athletes who had supervision from a coach at all times had an injury rate of less than 15%.
The fact of the matter is that not all CrossFit gyms are created equal and not all gyms have great coaches at them. A good coach should be able to look at each athlete’s mechanics during each exercise and tell if something (form, technique, etc) is off. A great coach will be able to modify each athlete’s approach for their specific body, age and skill level in order to prevent the chances of sustaining an injury.
2. Warm up properly
Warming up prior to any exercise is incredibly important for ensuring the overall health of your muscles. Due to the intense muscle performance inherent during high intensity workouts (like CrossFit), your warm ups should be slightly longer in duration to ensure adequate time for your heart rate and circulation to increase leading to loosened joints and increased blood flow to the muscles. Ensuring that your muscles and joints are properly loosened and warm will decrease the chances of injury.
3. Know the difference between burn and pain
We’ve all heard the old adage “no pain, no gain” but that phrase should actually be revised to “no burn, no gain.” Soreness and muscle fatigue are normal signs that the muscle has been worked hard but feeling this burn is a very different feeling than a feeling of outright pain. Muscle soreness is one thing, but sharp pains in a specific area, for example, a sharp pain in your shoulder during repetitive pull-ups, is likely a sign of a injury rather than muscle burn. Many athletes try to push past the pain and finish strong, but if you’re experiencing a sharp, hyper local pain, do NOT push through. Stop what you’re doing immediately and rest to see if the pain abates or continues.
4. Don’t forget to cool down
Much like with a warm up, proper cool down is also important during any exercise. In contrast to the warm up, however, a cool down aims to gradually decrease the heart rate and relax muscles and joints. An effective cool down will restore the body to it’s original state. Cool downs also prevent the buildup of toxic substances and lactic acid in the muscles which could (without proper cool down) result in muscle pain and stiffness the day after or even lead to injury.
5. Rest between training sessions
Overuse of muscles, especially in high intensity training regimens, can also lead to injury. Muscle recovery happens during periods of rest. If you are training everyday, your muscles aren’t given enough time to properly recover leading to an increased chance of CrossFit injuries. Most CrossFit programs have rest days built into their programs and it’s important to take these days seriously. They’re there so that your body can properly recover and continue training.
Ready for more tips and tricks on how to prevent injury regardless of what sport you’re participating in? Check out our FREE Staying on the Field – 7 Tips to Preventing Injuries ebook.