How to Avoid CrossFit Injuries

10 Tips to Avoid CrossFit Injuries

Unfortunately, we see a fair amount of injuries from CrossFit here at SSOR.  CrossFit is a very popular workout routine that is being used by people of all ages, abilities, and training histories.  There are a host of injuries we see from CrossFit, but many of the things we share with people and ways we treat them are often synonymous.  The PT’s at SSOR are experts at not only assessing what dysfunction lead to your pain, but also how to help you get back in the gym safely.

  1. Go see your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough.  CrossFit is high intensity activity.  If you haven’t worked out in a while or are out of shape, you may want to make sure your blood pressure, heart rate, and other metrics of physical health are in order.
  2. See a physical therapist for a musculoskeletal screen.  We know, we know – of course we want you to see a PT because that’s how we make our living.  True, but here’s the thing – if you come to us before you train, we can tell you what limitations you may have (and ultimately, what likely we’ll have to treat if you need therapy eventually!).  Why not take care of it ahead of time and do it on YOUR OWN, so you don’t need to spend your money in rehab?  Makes sense to us!  That said, we’ll happily treat you for PT if you need it – you’ll just save a lot more money and time seeing us beforehand.
  3. Start slow.  As stated above, CrossFit is high intensity.  It involves lots of jumping and sometimes, very technical Olympic lifts. Consider jumping to shorter boxes, not squatting as deep, or setting a repetition target for exercises.  Not everyone is appropriate for or should do the “WOD” (“Workout of the Day”).
  4. Master squat form.  One of the first things we have to work on with our CrossFitters is their squat form.  Unfortunately, there are many reasons why you may not have good form.  It could be something in the ankle, knee, hip, or thoracic spine causing you trouble. It may even be some core stability weakness.
  5. Mobilize your spine.  We sit too much, text too much, Facebook and Tweet too much, and sit in the car a lot.  As a result, we’ve got bad posture and stiff spines.  Problem is that all those lifts you have to do make your spine go the other way – difficult for it to do if it’s been “forward” all day.  Laying and rolling on the foam roller are good ways to help loosen this up.
    foam roll 150x150 How to Avoid CrossFit Injuries

    Spine Mobility Exercise


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    Thoracic Extension Mobilization

  6. Listen to your body.  If you’re hurting or if you’re having pain, either modify your workouts or see someone that can help you figure out why.  You don’t want it to get worse to the point you need to stop training, or worse yet, have surgery.   What’s worse is you may end up in more severe cases with exertional rhabdomyolysis, which is a serious condition. Sadly, this has almost become a badge of honor in the CrossFit community.
  7. Master technique.  Whether it’s jumping form (make sure your knees don’t collapse in) or the Olympic lifts, make sure your technique is sound.  Bad technique always equates to injuries eventually.
  8. Mix in a low intensity day.  CrossFit is high intensity, all the time.  Your body will thank you if you mix in a light elliptical workout, a swimming workout, or just an easy training day every week.  Unloading for a day or two will maximize your next workout because you’ll be well rested.
  9. Stretch/mobilize those shoulders.  There is so much overhead work in CrossFit and coupled with the poor posture talked about in #5 that people’s shoulders end up getting beat up pretty bad.  It’s really important to stretch the front of your shoulders along with the foam rolling we talked about in #5 to stay loose.
    Shoulder stretch 150x150 How to Avoid CrossFit Injuries

    Doorway Shoulder Stretch

  10. Careful when you’ve been off for a period of time.  Many CrossFitters will do “benchmark” workouts after having been off from working out for a period of time.  As a result, it ends up being “too much, too soon” again and exertional rhabdomyolysis can result.   We can’t emphasize enough, that’s a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Give us a call if you get injured doing CrossFit.  One of our PT’s actually is a USA Weightlifting coach, so we understand what it takes to get you back in the gym and we “speak the language.”  Additionally however, we have the knowledge and tools to help keep you safe and working out like you desire.  Remember, you don’t need to see your doctor first in Kansas now prior to starting physical therapy.   The PT’s at SSOR are experts in musculoskeletal assessment and treatment.

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