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The 5 Most Common Injuries in Crossfit

CrossFit is an exercise program that has drawn a lot of attention. Many people have seen extraordinary results by using the system to get into shape. However, the workouts are designed to be intense.

What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a relatively new exercise program. It is an effort to create a comprehensive workout method by bringing together disparate elements of physical fitness including aerobics, strength training, core building, and balancing exercises. At the essence of CrossFit is variation, according to CrossFit coach Jonathon Ross: no one in the program should do the same workout more than once per week. Typically a daily routine is complete within 60 minutes.

How popular is it becoming?
This exercise program marketed itself on being anti-gym, a structured alternative to cure workout boredom and free you from the disorganization of going about it on your own. However, it quickly became incredibly trendy. By October 2013, CrossFit had achieved 8000 affiliates and was growing fast enough to expand that number by 50% within the next year. The company is valued at $40 million and even is behind the multi-million dollar CrossFit Games presented on ESPN.

CrossFit is a challenging exercise program, so as it has become more popular, “it seems to be drawing more attention from fitness and medical professionals concerned about safety,” notes Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN. “[T]here are the folks who regularly come into contact with everyday CrossFitters and wonder about the sanity of it all.”

Injuries to avoid with CrossFit
With safety a key concern for CrossFit (as it should be with yoga or any other workout type), let’s look at top injuries so you can modify your workout appropriately. If any of these injuries arise, rest, ice, and consider short-term use of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. You also want to talk to your coach about modifying moves.

1. Tennis elbow
One of the most common injuries experienced by those in CrossFit is tennis elbow, aka lateral epicondylitis. Tennis elbow results from repetitive strain. Be particularly careful with weightlifting.

2. Achilles tendinitis
Doing too many high box jumps will often result in Achilles tendinitis among CrossFit participants.

3. Rotator cuff tendinitis
Often people in CrossFit will overdo it early on with “clean and jerk” exercises and overhead presses, leading to rotator cuff tendinitis.

4. De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
CrossFit athletes also often experience this condition, in which tendons that extend from the thumb across the wrist become inflamed. This injury results from repetitive wrist and thumb motions that occur in some of the exercises; it often becomes worse with kettlebell and barbell exercises.

5. Low back pain – Athletes suffering from low back pain often say it first arose when they were performing squats or overhead presses.

5. Low back pain
Athletes suffering from low back pain often say it first arose when they were performing squats or overhead presses. Typically the workout can be adapted to suit those with low back pain, explains orthopedic surgeon D. Levi Harrison, MD. “Often, my patients can continue to do light exercises which do not exacerbate the lower back pain, as well as take anti-inflammatory medications,” he says.

Recovery from injury
With any exercise program, you want to be careful not to overexert yourself when you begin. Make sure that you are warming up, stretching, paying attention to your body, and using the correct form.


By Dr. Sean Whalen

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