In the past, there has been noise made about injury rates in CrossFit. But aside from biased and fabricated research, let’s think about this logically.
How To Approach the Subject of Injuries in CrossFit
If you’re going to analyze injuries in CrossFit, you have to also analyze the fact that CrossFitters work at near maximum capacity. That’s one of the keynotes – high intensity.
When you compare high intensity exercise to something that isn’t high intensity, it is like comparing crash statistics in race car drivers to normal traffic accidents. They are two different worlds.
The only way to compare CrossFit injuries to any other mode of exercise is to at least make sure that it is in the same field.
But that’s the problem. There is no comparable exercise program to CrossFit.
CrossFitters Make the Choice To Work at a High Intensity
Any time you push your body to a high level of intensity, you’re risking injury. In fact, you could graph the likelihood of injury right along with intensity. There is a correlation.
The absolute safest way to prevent an exercise injury is to stay on the couch. Don’t go to the gym, let alone a CrossFit box!
This decision that CrossFitters make to exercise at high intensity is made knowingly. CrossFit has people jumping up and down on plyo boxes, you can easily miss and cut open your shin. Slamming a sledgehammer into a tire can go wrong as well. These things are obvious to anyone signing up.
To say that you’ll have more injuries in CrossFit than other exercise programs is kind of obvious. Especially when you’re comparing it to something that is low intensity, like Pilates. It’s just in a totally different ballpark.
The pretense of “applying science” to “get at the real facts here” is just stupid from the start, especially when you pick a much lower intensity form of exercise.
Here is another study which compares CrossFit to “Traditional Weightlifting.”
I’m sorry, but the two just don’t compare. Traditional weightlifting doesn’t involve sprints or long-distance running. CrossFit does. You can add all the injuries associated with that (shin splints, runner’s knee, etc) and you’ll have your case right there.
What really blows my mind is that these studies are from published scientific journals. I had to cite directly from these in college otherwise I was accused of making shit up. Yet here they are. Making shit up.
CrossFit Compared to Martial Arts
This would be a closer comparison than the traditional weightlifting they used in the study mentioned above. Martial artists train with a high level of intensity.
Martial arts (for the most part) also involve heavy and hard impact. That increases your risk of injury, but with a good coach you can manage pretty well.
Nonetheless, it still wouldn’t be a good comparison for a study because there are so many different branches of martial arts. Tai Chi isn’t the same as Kung Fu or Muy Thai.
Who Is the CrossFit Coach?
A big variable in CrossFit is the coach. I spent years as a CrossFit coach, and I can say that there just is a difference. I graduated from college with a degree in exercise science, I had more than one personal training certification, I was certified as a CrossFit coach, and I had already had five years of experience training clients in the gym.
That’s different than just doing the basic certification for a CrossFit coach. CrossFit has done an amazing job of raising the bar on their coaching over the years, but there is still a difference between each individual coach.
Any fair study would have to take this into consideration because a major part of a CrossFit coach’s job is to be able to tell how much of a “dose” of exercise a person can take and make sure that they don’t do too much. Now we are right back on the point of intensity. CrossFit is intense and you’ve got to go out of your comfort zone, but not too far.
An Additional Variable on Coaching
Yet another flaw in the study is whether or not the CrossFitters were coaching themselves or going to a CrossFit gym under a highly trained coach.
Maybe these people didn’t even understand CrossFit and yet were just doing it in their garage.
What Is the Correct Way To Analyze CrossFit Injuries?
Having been a CrossFit coach with a near-perfect record of no injuries, I would say that you should study CrossFit injuries by coach.
The coach is the biggest variable, and I am a firm believer that a great coach can pull you through anything.
If I wanted to actually analyze the scene, I would split up athletes among a certain amount of coaches. Maybe 50 or 100 people per coach, and have 100 coaches.
Then you’ll see what I mean.
A great coach increases fitness in a shorter time and does it with injury-free, happy athletes.
Finally, the Question That No One Is Asking
What is the risk of not exercising at all vs. doing a CrossFit regimen?
I would like to see life expectancy, frequency of heart disease, frequency of cancer, and a measurement of each group’s overall quality of life.
Take a look at the broad scene, please. What should be making the news are studies that show how lack of exercise is causing a pandemic of obesity.