CrossFit Injury Prevention Tips and Techniques
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CrossFit Injury Prevention Tips and Techniques

CrossFit is one of the most popular fitness trends in the last decade and shows no signs of slowing down soon with nearly 5,000 CrossFit gyms across the United States. As CrossFit’s popularity continues to grow as a result of its fun and engaging way of making fitness a group effort with a low barrier to entry, it’s important to make sure that you’re doing all you can to prevent future issues with these CrossFit injury prevention tips and techniques.

Look at some of the best ways you can prevent and reduce the likelihood of future CrossFit injuries and some of the most common CrossFit injuries you can sustain if you’re not careful when training.

Most Common CrossFit Injuries

CrossFit can be a unique and engaging workout because it combines multiple different activities into one workout including strength training, cardio, and more. With a combination of so many different facets of training, injuries can occur if you’re not careful. While CrossFit is incredibly popular, recent research has shown that between 19% and 33% of individuals who have recently taken part in a CrossFit exercise program have reported experiencing a common injury. Understanding what some of the most common CrossFit injuries are and effective ways to prevent them is an important step in making sure you continue to stay healthy and enjoy upcoming workouts.

Here are some of the most common CrossFit injuries:

Hernia

Hernias are one of the most common CrossFit injuries that can occur when an individual pushes their body past its limits when lifting or straining for extended periods of time during a strenuous workout. Hernias often occur when the abdominal or groin area is weakened due to inadequate strength, previous injuries, aging, or repeated stress to the area. Athletes of all ages can experience a hernia when they’re picking up a heavy weight, straining during a repetition, using improper technique during difficult lifts, or failing to prioritize proper rest and recovery before their next workout.

Back Pain

Back pain is a common injury for athletes of all ages and impacts millions of people each year with roughly 25% of all adults complaining of acute back pain in the last 3 months. If not carefully treated, back pain from a CrossFit injury can turn into chronic lower back pain that can become costly and sap the joy out of even the most engaging activities like CrossFit exercise.

Back pain can stem a variety of movements during a workout but can often occur in those compound movements that require you to activate multiple muscles at once, including your back. Back pain and back injuries can stem from a variety of reasons including poor technique when working out, overuse, underdeveloped muscles, and overloading. If you perform an unfamiliar activity, especially under a lot of load or you have an inadequate warm-up after being sedentary, this can make an injury more likely.

Some of the most common activities that can cause back pain during a CrossFit workout include running, heavy lifting, quick twisting movements, excessive bending, and poor posture. Popular exercises that can cause back pain injuries include some of the most popular CrossFit activities including abdominal crunches, deadlifts, and squats.

Pulling your back and experiencing a back injury from a CrossFit injury can sideline you for weeks, which is why it’s important to get treatment fast and effectively with physical therapy. Our trained physical therapists are movement experts and can help you get back to doing the things you love most so you don’t have to put those CrossFit workouts on hold.

Schedule an appointment today to learn how physical therapy can help you with your back pain.

Achilles Tendonitis

Overuse injuries are some of the most common CrossFit injuries, including Achilles Tendonitis. Achilles Tendonitis can occur when the Achilles tendon is overused or over-stressed. The tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, and a lot of things can influence how much stress goes through it, including your weight, flexibility, shoes, and muscular control of your hip and leg. CrossFit athletes can experience Achilles Tendonitis during exercises that require frequent use of their legs and/or a sudden increase in the duration or intensity of the exercises that require the use of the Achilles like running, jumping, or quick shuffle movements.

One of the great things about CrossFit workouts is that they are HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts, which means that you work out for an extended period at a high intensity with limited breaks and you’ll work up a sweat in no time.

During a CrossFit workout, you’ll frequently be tasked with performing one exercise and then jumping to the next once that first round is over to keep the energy levels up and the workout intensity. The issue with HIIT workouts is that they can also push your body to its breaking point with the limited number of breaks and the demand placed on your body.

Over time, Achilles Tendonitis can set in and it can be a lasting issue if not treated properly.

Wrist Strains

We use our wrists often during any workout and they can account for some of the most common CrossFit injuries. Whether you’re lifting weights, weight bearing through your hands, or grabbing workout straps, we ask our wrists to handle an awful lot of wear and tear during a strenuous workout. Wrist Strains can occur at a moment’s notice when you’re not thinking about it and can happen when you place repetitive stress or extreme pressure when lifting with an improper technique.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow is one of the many common overuse injuries that can occur when placing repetitive stress and tension on one’s elbow and the extensor muscles of the forearm. The condition can affect more than just those who play tennis and is known as lateral epicondylalgia. Tennis Elbow can be a painful sensation that one experiences from the elbow down to the forearm or wrist and can make many common actions difficult including squeezing objects, holding items, rotating the wrist, or extending the arm.

With so many maneuvers that require you to extend, rotate, and grip items in a workout, having Tennis Elbow can sideline you for plenty of important exercises during a CrossFit workout. Not only can the condition cause you to miss extended periods of time while you recover, but it can also cause you to increase your risk for other injuries if you elect to push through the pain when working out.

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder pain can develop into a nagging injury that can take a long time to recover from if you’re not careful. With many compound movements during a CrossFit workout, you will utilize your shoulders to lift above your head, in front of you, laterally, and support your body weight when performing other types of maneuvers. As we place so much reliance on our shoulders for many exercises, they can become susceptible to a wide array of injuries and overuse.

There is no shortage of movements and exercises that could potentially cause you shoulder pain but some of the leading ones include bench press, pullups, throwing exercises, rope slams, and shoulder press.

CrossFit Injury Prevention Tips and Techniques

CrossFit can be a great way to get in shape, stay active, and work towards your fitness and healthy living goals. Before beginning any kind of exercise program, consult with a qualified healthcare professional or licensed physical therapist. By taking advantage of some of the tips and techniques we’ve outlined below, you can reduce your likelihood of future CrossFit injuries and make sure that you’re doing all you can to stay healthy for future workouts.

Warmup

One of the most important things you can do to prevent future CrossFit injuries is to get in a good warmup before beginning any type of exercise program or workout. Warming up and stretching properly is an essential part of preparing your body for the strenuous workout you’re about to put it through. A good warmup can not only help you prepare your body, but it can also help you prepare your mind for the challenges ahead. Plenty of injuries can happen at a moment’s notice because your mental focus slips for one second.

Jumping straight into a workout without having an adequate warmup period can set you up for an injury if you’re not careful. Focus on getting in a good warmup with a concentration on warming up those muscles, stretching efficiently, and easing your body into its upcoming workout.

Prioritize Gradual Gains Over Giant Leaps

Trying to make giant leaps in your fitness goals can cause you to experience plenty of injuries when you workout. Instead of trying to run before you can walk, make sure that you’re prioritizing gradual gains over an extended period. It’s always important to remember that you need to build a strong foundation that you can steadily build upon.

Trying to lift too much or push your body further than it’s been before can cause you to not only have an exhausting workout, but it could set you up for a significant injury that will set you back even further in your long-term goals.

One of the best ways to make sure that you’re focusing on gradual gains throughout your CrossFit and fitness journey is to keep a journal of your workouts which highlights what you did, how long you did it for, and a notes section. This notes section can be a great way to track how your body was feeling during, shortly after, and the days following a workout. Using an extensive journal that highlights your previous workouts can be a great way to identify things that you’re struggling with and help you stay accountable with a focus on progressive gains over time instead of trying to push your body leaps and bounds further than its been before.

Workout with a Buddy

One of the great things about working out in a CrossFit environment is that most workouts are done with a group. Working out with others is a great way to keep the energy high, find motivation amongst your peers, and create lasting friendships. Either making a friend in your CrossFit classes or bringing one to future sessions that align with both of your schedules is a great way to make sure that you’re holding each other accountable and watching out for red flags that could signal future injuries. Having someone close by who can help monitor your technique and output can be a great way to reduce the likelihood of future injuries.

Focus on Form and Technique

Another common reason for many of the most common CrossFit injuries we outlined above is the lack of proper form and technique when going through workouts. One of the best ways to prevent CrossFit injuries is to always focus on technique and form when completing any exercise. Failing to focus on the fundamentals when performing any exercise can cause injuries and set you back in your wellness goals. Avoid rushing through the workouts so you can keep pace with others.

Listen To Your Body

Listening to your body is a great way to prevent future injuries before they happen and to take steps to make sure things don’t get worse if something is wrong. If at any point during your workout you feel like something isn’t right or you feel pain, you should stop immediately and consult with a qualified healthcare professional. Pain and elevated levels of discomfort are two of the many things that our bodies can use to signal that something is wrong. Pay attention to your body and the signals it’s trying to send to avoid potential injuries when working out.

Choose Trainers and Gyms Carefully

Another method of reducing the likelihood of future CrossFit injuries is to always do your homework and make sure you evaluate and choose CrossFit gyms and their trainers carefully. Make sure that you’re selecting and regularly attending a gym that is well kept, built with safety in mind, and are following the guidance of well-educated and passionate trainers who are putting your safety and well-being first.

Seek Treatment for Injuries Before They Get Worse

The next thing you can do to prevent future CrossFit injuries is to make sure that you get treatment for existing injuries before they get worse. If you don’t take the necessary steps to seek treatment for injuries you’ve already sustained, you can not only lengthen the time it takes to fully recover but you could also set yourself up for more injuries down the road.

Alleviate CrossFit Injuries with Physical Therapy

CrossFit workouts can be a great way to stay in shape and reach those wellness goals, but you also need to make sure that you’re recovering from CrossFit injuries when they occur. Physical therapy is a great treatment option for those who have recently experienced an injury. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced athlete, we help athletes and individuals of all skill levels recover from, alleviate pain, and reduce the likelihood of future injuries. Many of our physical therapists are Cross Fitters, and all of them understand the benefits of it.

Our licensed physical therapists at our nationwide clinics can help you treat and overcome CrossFit injuries and 100+ other conditions. Find a physical therapy clinic near you today and schedule an appointment to connect with a physical therapist who can help you recover from your CrossFit injuries.

  1. Weisenthal, Benjamin M, et al. “Injury Rate and Patterns Among CrossFit Athletes.” Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, SAGE Publications, 25 Apr. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4555591/.
  2. Kirill Alekseyev, Alex John. “Identifying the Most Common CrossFit Injuries in a Variety of Athletes – Kirill Alekseyev, Alex John, Andrew Malek, Malcolm Lakdawala, Nikhil Verma, Colton Southall, Argyrios Nikolaidis, Sudheer Akella, Samantha Erosa, Rayeed Islam, Efrain Perez-Bravo, Marc Ross, 2020.” SAGE Journals, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1179572719897069.
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