Dangers of CrossFit Wednesday 4/1

Warm Up


15 Ring Dips

20 V-Ups

A. Every 2 minutes for 10 minutes:

    Press x 5 @ 70%

B. 400m Run

25 Chest to Bar Pullups

800m Run

25 Chest to Bar Pullups

400m Run

Dangers of CrossFit

We check the blog in anticipation every night, show up to the gym everyday with excitement, work our asses off during the WOD, and then do it all over go again. We tell friends and family about our accomplishments and failures in the gym. We post photos of our workouts, our food, and our progress. We love the challenge of CrossFit, the community, and the way it changes of our lives.

Then out of nowhere, someone close to you states, “You do CrossFit, isn’t that dangerous?”

For the last 6 years, I’ve heard every reason why CrossFit is dangerous. I’ve read countless articles by legitimate authors and trolls alike. The message is always the same: “It’s dangerous to kip, lift weights for time, and CrossFitters use poor technique.” We know in our hearts we love CrossFit, so how could there be so much CrossFit push back?

When I hear the word dangerous, I usually associate it with the possibility of a traumatic injury or death. CrossFit has existed for about 12 years, and there are 11,000 affiliates worldwide. Zero deaths have been assocaited with CrossFit training. Kevin Ogar was the first CrossFitter to sustain a traumatic injury doing CrossFit-related movements. I am not going to comment on the nature or circumstances of Kevin’s injury, but it was a complete freak accident. Kevin continues to CrossFit and recently did a muscle up and a HSPU in the Open. 

Going back to my definition of dangerous (possibility of death or serious injury), bench pressing alone is dangerous. Road cycling is dangerous. Playing co-ed soccer is dangerous (I know of 3 people who have torn ACL’s from playing in these leagues). Driving a car is dangerous. Drinking alcohol is dangerous. Sitting on a couch is dangerous. CrossFit is not dangerous.

Injuries can and do occur from participating in CrossFit workouts. Beginner CrossFitter’s may experience joint discomfort in their shoulders, wrists, knees, or back. This can be related to previous joint issues that are resurfacing or being “woken up” by the functional movements used in CrossFit. More seasoned CrossFitters may experience similar joint discomfort from overuse, mobility issues, or a technique flaw. CrossFitters may tear their hands, hit their shin on a box, whip themselves with a jump rope and/or hit their chin with a barbell. These incidents heal quickly and do not require missed gym time.

These discomforts may come and go, sometimes nagging the athlete for weeks or months. As coaches, we are constantly working to address and fix these issues with our members. Many times these minor injuries can be fixed permanently, whereas if the athlete never started CrossFit, the underlying injury may have surfaced at an inopportune time (like a bad knee going while skiing the first run of the day).  In the same example, if the athlete’s knee exhibited some discomfort while squatting, the CrossFit coach can identify this, prescribe accessory movements and mobility drills to fix the problem, and eventually strengthen the surrounding joint musculature. The end result is the athlete’s knee holding up perfectly during a weekend of hard skiing.

If CrossFit is not dangerous, what is it then? If we are talking about risk management here’s the way I see it:

CrossFit can be addicting. Folks become obsessed with the lifestyle and challenges that CrossFit brings. Exercise adherence is one the single biggest obstacles to remaining physically fit. If you cannot adhere to a program, no matter how sound it is, it simply will not yield any results. Exercise adherence is at a premium more than ever nowadays. Time is precious and it’s not always easy to make it to the gym. However, my personal view is that CrossFit is the most adhered to exercise program on earth. I have come to this conclusion on observations only. If this is the case, what better program to follow than the one it’s easiest to stick with?

If you can stick to an exercise program, the benefits are vast. Studies show most types of exercise yields the benefits listed below. But keep in mind there are no long term benefits if the program isn’t followed.

Stronger muscles

Increased flexibility

Increased mobility

Increased range of motion with all joints

Increased cardiovascular health

            -higher stroke volume (the heart pumps less frequently, but when it does, more blood is driven to the body)

            -lower resting heart rate

            -higher lung capacity

            -healthier lung tissue

            -lower cholesterol

            -proper and balanced blood pressure

Higher quality sleep

Less stress

Increased stamina

Increased daily energy

Lower risk of disease (diabetes, cancer, heart attack, stroke, obesity, etc)

Increased confidence, better mood, stronger mentally

So, you can have all those amazing benefits if you consistently CrossFit. The risk-reward seems pretty simple: a healthier life in all aspects vs. the possibility of a minor joint injury. In other words, if you stick with CrossFit, the good far and beyond outweighs the bad. CrossFit is not dangerous.