There has been an insane amount of media buzz lately about the “dangers of CrossFit.” Everyone and your grandmother is suddenly concerned that you are taking part in this perilous new activity where you will certainly break every bone and get rhabdo.
I am far from a fitness expert but I think have enough personal experience – CrossFitting for three years including a pregnancy – to have a bit of insight on this issue. CrossFit is dangerous and people do get injured. But debatably less so than skiing, football, driving in rush hour traffic, or being like the 80% of Americans who do not get recommended exercise at all.
I think all the negative attention CrossFit draws stems from the fact that 1. Exponential growth in gyms and memberships = more potential for lousy trainers and sloppy training. 2. Exponential growth in gyms and memberships = increased physical activity by people of varying athletic abilities = more physical injuries. The same math could be applied to rising numbers of yoga injuries, running injuries, or ankles sprained while country line dancing. But where the intensity goes up the stakes inevitably get higher.
I can only speak for myself and my spouse, whose CrossFit gym experience has led to lowered cholesterol, lowered blood sugar, increased muscle mass, decreased body fat, increased confidence, energy, endurance, flexibility, and capability that applies itself well outside the “box.” There but for the grace of God have I avoided any serious injury despite my own occasional stupidity and failure to follow good form. But I know that all great rewards include some level of risk – and most likely, any serious injury would likely be my own fault.
Have I gotten hurt? Sure. But let’s break down a few of my “Top 9 Crossfit Injuries: Because There Simply Was Not a 10th – yet”
1. Banging the kettlebell into my chin while being overzealous with a sumo deadlift high pull.
2. Pinching my own stomach fat between the kettlebell and rack upon return.
3. Stepping on a nail on the sidewalk on my way back into the gym after a run.
4. Rope burn on my thighs due to poor dismount and poor attire.
5. Whipping my ankles during double unders (this is a given for anyone on the learning curve).
6. Randomly walking into a rower/box/barbell/human (no real excuse for this one. Also not Crossfit exclusive).
7. Dropping a plate on my ankles trying to disembark from a prison squat.
8. Slightly bruising my wrists performing kellebell cleans.
9. And – the only one worthy of actual physical concern – tweaking my lower back while attempting a one-rep-max deadlift six weeks post-partum. By myself. For no reason. I mean, honestly, I pretty much deserved that one.
All of that said, if CrossFit is not your cup of tea, don’t do it. Find whatever motivates you to stay fit – yoga, pilates, biking, Zumba, running with your dog – really, whatever. Just don’t sit on the couch chastising CrossFit. It’s tiring. Not as tiring as actually doing CrossFit, but nonetheless, exhausting.