June 20, 2017 by Bronson Dant

CrossFit, is it worth the risk?

CrossFit is dangerous. It is a fitness program that is designed to be intense and challenging. Even though you won’t find a better overall fitness solution, you accept a certain level of risk every time you go to the gym.

The risks that come with Crossfit are the similar to the chances you take when you play basketball with friends, go in the backyard during a bbq and play football, or get on your bike and ride long distance several times a week.

To be completely honest, the possibility of injury at a good CrossFit gym is probably less than most sports or training activities you could do. There is still a risk however.

There are few good studies out there that detail the injury rates of CrossFit as compared to other sports. Here is an excerpt from one that I found.

“In our study, we found the overall injury rate in CrossFit was approximately 20%.. As a reference, epidemiological studies on runners have reported injury incidence rates ranging from 19.4% to 79.3%. Elite track and field athletes, while a very different population but with similar high-intensity ballistic mechanisms, demonstrated a 42.8% 1-year..”

In case you haven’t made the connection… CrossFit is dangerous just like any other fitness activity is dangerous.

“..it should be fairly clear that the risk of injury (whether acute or chronic) is lower when training for strength sports than when performing endurance-type training such as running or triathlon. The rate of injury ranges between 0.24 – 5.5 injuries per 1,000 hours of training. In comparison, the rate of injury during long-distance running is around 2.5 – 12.1 injuries per 1,000 hours and the rate during triathlon is around 1.4 – 5.4 injuries per 1,000 hours training.”

The following table of injuries is based on 2006 data compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).

Estimated Numberof Injuries Sport and Type of Injury
529,837 Basketball – Cut hands, sprained ankles, broken legs, eye and forehead injuries.
490,434 Bicycling – Feet caught in spokes, head injuries from falls, slipping while carrying bicycles, collisions with cars.
460,210 Football – Fractured wrists, chipped teeth, neck strains, head lacerations, dislocated hips and jammed fingers.
275,123 ATVs, Mopeds, Minibikes – Riders of ATVs were frequently injured when they were thrown from vehicles. There were also fractured wrists, dislocated hands, shoulder sprains, head cuts and lumbar strains.
274,867 Baseball, Softball – Head injuries from bats and balls. Ankle injuries from running bases or sliding into them.
269,249 Exercise, Exercise Equipment – Twisted ankles and cut chins from tripping on treadmills. Head injuries from falling backward from exercise balls, ankle sprains from jumping rope.
186,544 Soccer – Twisted ankles or knees after falls, fractured arms during games.
164,607 Swimming – Head injuries from hitting the bottom of pools, and leg injuries from accidentally falling into pools.
96,119 Skiing, Snowboarding – Head injuries from falling, cut legs and faces, sprained knees or shoulders.
85,580 Lacrosse, Rugby, & other Ball Games – Head and facial cuts from getting hit by balls and sticks, injured ankles from falls.

 

The risk of poor health is higher and more deadly

Here’s why CrossFit or any type of fitness activity is important for everyone. Regardless of the risk. First off, not enough people are even at a basic level of fitness

 

  • Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who met the Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity: 49.0%
  • Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who met the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity: 20.9%

 

Did you know that 29 millions people in the USA have diabetes? The staggering number is that 86 million more people are pre-diabetic.

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010 2, 3

 

  • More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese.
  • More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity.
  • About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese.

 

 

Would you rather take the risk of an injury from exercising, or speed up the dying process from not doing anything?

There are things we can do to make it better. A good CrossFit gym has a few things they do in their program and how they operate that can significantly reduce the chance for injury. It will never be a 100% sure thing but they can help the percentages to work in your favor.

  1. Variation – The Crossfit method includes variation in movements and types of workouts to help prevent overworking one movement or exercise, as well as, to help improve multiple areas of fitness in a short amount of time.
  2. Recovery – Giving the body time to rest is part of the CrossFit method. At a good CrossFit gym, it’s not uncommon for a member to be told that they shouldn’t do the workout and should spend their time stretching, or doing some kind of recovery.
  3. Coaching – The coach is the sheep dog of the gym. They are the ones to make sure you are moving correctly, understand what’s going, stop when you need to stop, drop the weight or slow down when you need to, and generally make sure no one is doing anything that doesn’t benefit their long term health.
  4. Scaling – this is the process good gyms use to enable you to get the most out of a workout while still doing the work within your current level of fitness or physical limitation (injury or health).

All of these things help a good program to reduce your risk of injury, and improve the quality of the training you get.

The end result is a better quality of life and more enjoyment out of the things you do.

Isn’t it worth the risk?

 

References:

https://www.strengthandconditioningresearch.com/2014/07/08/injury-strength-sports/

http://www.scientificpsychic.com/fitness/sport_injuries.html

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/exercise.htm

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2325967114531177

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014statisticsreport.html

http://stateofobesity.org/adult-obesity/

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity