By: Darla Wilson, DPT, Orthopaedic Resident at Austintown Center
So-called extreme fitness programs have been shown to produce improvements in cardiovascular fitness and body composition in both genders and among participants with all levels of baseline fitness.
These gains most likely result from the constant variation of workouts, which keep challenging the body in order to avoid plateaus.
CrossFit is an example of this program. CrossFit offers daily workouts involving a variety of movements, incorporating cardiovascular machines such as bikes and rowers; weightlifting for the upper and lower body; and gymnastics skills such as handstand walking and pull-ups.
Your neighbor might think this high-intensity training is incredible, but you may have heard suggestions of high injury rates associated with CrossFit.
As a former competitive athlete, a participant in CrossFit, and mostly, as a physical therapist, I always encourage people to improve their fitness and health. But I never want to see someone sidelined from the things they need and want to do because of pain.
–While men have shown higher injury rates than females, most reported injuries during CrossFit were mild in nature and not based on age or length of time as a participant.
–A higher injury rate has not been shown in CrossFit as compared with other forms of repetitive or high-impact activities such as running or other forms of weight lifting.
Of course, there is an inherent risk in all forms of physical activity. Awareness of and respect for your abilities and limitations are always important.
Regardless of your prior experience, ask questions and make sure you are doing things in a safe way. The lowest injury rates have been found in those activities that have the most trainer involvement. It is always smart to work on form before adding weights and reps.
Anyone who starts a new fitness routine, from CrossFit to gentle yoga, should seek advice to begin correctly and safely. No matter who we are or what activity we choose, we all need to be aware of possible limitations resulting from current or former injuries.
If you are concerned about your ability to start an activity safely, please check with your doctor or physical therapist ahead of time.