CrossFit’s Injury Rates Revealed

Hey Gang,

We have all talked about Crossfit and whether it's a negative training style or not, so I decided to do a bit of research. I looked at a few studies of reported injuries related to Crossfit. It seems there are more injuries not reported due to a number of people quitting abruptly, due to injury.

I thought you might find this interesting.

CrossFit’s Injury Rates Revealed

CrossFit has received a bad rap because of its perceived propensity to cause injuries. Opponents say that form is disregarded and Olympic lifts should never be used as a conditioning tool. That’s simply atrocious, but not all CrossFit workouts are so careless. If they were, CrossFit's popularity would not be skyrocketing worldwide.

The Research

In a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers surveyed 132 CrossFit athletes. They found that “97 (73.5%) participants had sustained an injury that had prevented them from working, training or competing.” Of these injuries, nine required surgery. That's 9% that required surgery!

This amounts to an injury rate of 3.1 per 1,000 hours, which is similar to sports such as Olympic weightlifting, power lifting, and gymnastics, but less than contact sports like rugby. What may come as a surprise: it matches the injury rate for general fitness workouts.

Diving deeper into the data, the researchers found that shoulder injuries accounted for nearly 25 percent of reported injuries. This exceeds the injury rate of competitive Olympic weight lifting, where athletes move hundreds of pounds over their head.

What Does It All Mean?

The data reveals a great deal of information. Let’s look closer at the findings.

73.5 percent of CrossFitters sustain injuries.

If you've done any type of high-intensity activity over a long duration, you've probably hurt yourself at some point. So the CrossFit injury rate is not surprising, especially if you concede that CrossFit is both a sport and a training system.

The injury rate is similar to Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and gymnastics.

It’s important to realize what you’re getting yourself into. You need to think about your goals and what you’re trying to get out of your workouts. If you want to compete in CrossFit, then go all in. If you want to simply get fit, you may not want to subject yourself to injury rates common for competitive sports.

The injury rate is similar to general fitness workouts.

Here’s where things get murky.

General fitness is a broad term, and it may include people who have little training experience and poor form. On the other hand, CrossFit workouts are supervised, so form and technique should be perfect.

Based on this assumption, you can conclude that CrossFit workouts might inherently be more dangerous. However, more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

Shoulder injury rates exceed those of Olympic weightlifting.

Olympic weightlifters lift hundreds of pounds over their heads. They train specifically to perform a specific exercise, and they master the intricacies of the movement. Yet they still sustain injuries because of the complex movements, and because they push their bodies to the limit.

A typical CrossFit session is populated by a variety of different people—athletes, former athletes, moms, dads and everyone between—all performing Snatches and other complex overhead movements. And let’s be honest, not everyone’s technique will ever be perfect, and some people should simply avoid them altogether because of mobility issues or health conditions.

So, when you perform Olympic lifts for high reps, you exacerbate any existing issues, and you’re more likely to sustain an injury, especially to your shoulder.

Conclusion

This research confirms what we expected—CrossFit is not the worst thing in the world, as some people want you to believe. But it's not the safest thing either. If you’re simply looking to get stronger, burn fat or enhance your performance, trying to mimic elite CrossFit athletes may not be wise. However, making smart decisions with your training may help you take advantage of this community-based, high-intensity style of training.