Have you ever had someone come up to you and tell you that CrossFit is dangerous? They may follow up that statement by talking about some CrossFit fail video they saw on YouTube or Instagram. In reality, CrossFit is no more dangerous than any other sport. In fact, it is actually a lot safer than many contact sports and even running. So, why is it then that CrossFit gets such a bad rap? Well, like any other sport, injuries in CrossFit can happen and are not uncommon. However, there are several things that you can do to help prevent the occurrence of injuries.
Check your ego at the door. It can be easy to get caught up in the competition aspect of a CrossFit class (especially for ex-college/high school athletes and guys, yes guys). You see that one member across the gym who is lifting a few pounds heavier than you, so you slap an extra set of plates onto your barbell. However, it’s extremely important to stay away from comparing yourself to others. There is always going to be someone who lifts more than you, who is better at gymnastics than you, or who can run faster than you. Don’t try to keep up with them. Stay in your own lane and focus on your personal growth.
Seek supervision. Don’t hesitate to pull a coach aside and ask them to look at your form if something feels off. Sometimes this can be difficult for newer athletes because they are still learning body awareness, so in this case, make sure you are listening to the coach’s cues and suggestions regarding weight, movement substitutions, etc. They are trained to spot flaws in an individual’s movement pattern so take full advantage of their expertise.
Prioritize technique and know your limits. There are many difficult movements that are used in day-to-day CrossFit programming – technical Olympic lifts and advanced gymnastics movements. If performed with bad technique or before the appropriate amount of strength is developed, injuries can happen as a result. Therefore, it is extremely important to focus on using correct technique before adding weight for barbell movements and knowing your body’s limits before attempting more difficult gymnastics movements.
Warm up properly. The beauty of a CrossFit class is that it is coach-led. You don’t have to think about what workout to do, how to perform different movements, what warm up to do, etc. With that being said, it is important to take the warm up seriously. The coach’s job is to ensure that your body is warm and your muscles are prepared to take on strain before lifting or doing a metcon. This often means that your heart rate is elevated and you’ve already started to break a sweat. So, don’t skip the warm up because you think it’s too hard. There is a reason why the coach is putting you through the particular exercises they’ve chosen.
Listen to your body. Recovery is also an important part of staying injury free. Things like getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, mobility, etc. all play a vital role in keeping your body in a healthy state. It’s also important to take 1-2 rest days per week. After your body has been under a high amount of strain for several days in a row, it needs time to fully recover. Listen to your body – if you’re feeling extra drained, take a rest day. If you didn’t get very much sleep the night before, do an active recovery piece instead. Your fitness won’t suffer because of it, but your body might.