No matter what fitness routine you choose, minor tweaks and injuries are inevitable. CrossFit is no exception. Injuries happen in CrossFit, just as they do with weightlifting, bodybuilding, or running. Yet, there is still a widely held belief that CrossFit is a more dangerous sport compared to other activities. Is this true? Sports medicine specialist Richard Cunningham, MD weighs in on common CrossFit injuries, and how to best prevent them.

Is CrossFit Safe?

CrossFit attracts athletes of all fitness levels. Anytime an athlete participates in an activity with high intensity, injuries are possible. CrossFit athletes perform a wide-range of body-weight, weighted, and gymnastics movements. Some of these movements include:

  • Squats
  • Push-press
  • Deadlifts
  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Handstand Push-ups
  • Ring Dips
  • Box Jumps
  • Jump Roping
  • Running
  • Rowing

This diverse set of movements is a big reason athletes are attracted to the sport. Having proper technique on all of these movements (some very technical) is key to preventing injury. Typically, injuries in CrossFit occur due to overuse, poor technique, or a traumatic incident. The most common injuries seen in CrossFit are:

Many of these injuries can be prevented with the right form, proper training frequency, and good safety practices in the gym. Knee and shoulder specialist, Dr. Richard Cunningham focuses on common shoulder and knee injuries seen in CrossFit.

Common Shoulder Injuries

CrossFit has a lot of movements that isolate the shoulders: ring dips, push-ups, pull-ups, and overhead squats, to list a few. High volume of repetitions with any shoulder focused movement is demanding on the muscles and ligaments within the joint. Athletes who have either a lack of strength, or mobility while trying to perform these highly complex movements can lead to CrossFit shoulder pain from muscle strains, labral tears, and rotator cuff tendonitis, or tears. It is important for athletes to use the correct amount of weight, and stretch the shoulders before and after workouts to minimize the risk of injury.

In addition to lack of proper strength and mobility, poor technique on the execution of these movements can lead to a shoulder injury. It is important that athletes get the proper coaching on technique before performing these movements.

Common Knee Injuries

The knee is the most commonly injured joint in the body. Due to the high impact that the knee absorbs, and the complex movements it endures, it is susceptible to injury. The two most commonly seen knee injuries in CrossFit are an MCL injury and a meniscus tear. While many knee injuries can be avoided with proper lifting technique, and appropriate body conditioning, all it takes is an awkward landing from a box jump or a heavy front squat that can cause an athlete to become sidelined. Dr. Cunningham is experienced in treating CrossFit athletic injuries to the knees and shoulders.

How to Prevent CrossFit Injuries?

Although there is a risk of sustaining a sports injury during CrossFit, such as a rotator cuff tear, labral tear, meniscal tears, or MCL injury, athletes who practice proper lifting technique, and allow adequate recovery time between workout sessions will help prevent CrossFit injuries. Athletes are encouraged to:

  • Control every movement while performing heavy movements
  • Never lift more weight than the body can handle
  • Land softly from any jumping movement
  • Integrate mobility, and stretching into daily routines
  • Reduce intensity on a few exercises during the week
  • Give the body time to recover by taking several days off each week so the muscles can regenerate

If you have sustained a knee, or shoulder injury from CrossFit, contact sports medicine specialist, Dr. Richard Cunningham and his team today: (970) 569-3240.

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Rediscover your inner athlete

Dr. Cunningham specializes in the treatment of knee, shoulder, and sports injuries.

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