CrossFit Injuries: Shoulder and Knee Injuries Can Be Avoided

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For the last decade, scores of people aiming to build a fit body have been focusing their attention on one specific routine – CrossFit.  Developed by Coach Greg Glassman, CrossFit introduces a new fitness regimen that aims to combine movements, intensity and performance into different routine models that provide measurable results.

One aspect of the routine has sparked an energetic debate among professional and amatuer athletes and trainers. The high intensity and safety concerns of CrossFit has divided its practitioners into CrossFit defenders and CrossFit skeptics.

CrossFit Injuries

Dr. Armin Tehrany, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon from New York and founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care, has witnessed the effects of CrossFit through his patients. Injured Crossfitters visit him on a regular basis.

“CrossFit, CrossFit, CrossFit! It’s become one of the most exciting and interesting fitness crazes the last few years. And while many agree that CrossFit can be dangerous if not done properly, others suggest that CrossFit is very safe as long as you learn how to avoid injury. As an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in arthroscopic surgery for shoulder pain and knee pain, I see too many patients who aren’t prepared for the intensity of CrossFit.” says Dr. Tehrany.

The fact that people aren’t prepared for the intensity of this physical activity is the main reason why the number of CrossFit shoulder injuries, CrossFit knee injuries, and muscle swellings keeps increasing, as the routine gains more popularity. The number of people suffering from terrible shoulder pain and knee pain after each workout is growing as well.

Even though there are various exercises that put emphasis on different muscle groups on a daily basis, which is good for the whole body, there are still serious questions whether CrossFit is a safe routine for everyone, or a dangerous one for people without previous fitness training.

“In the past year we were unpleasantly surprised by the fact that a couple of professional athletes got seriously injured while doing CrossFit. The interesting thing here is that the intensity and complexity of sports injuries that occur while practicing CrossFit are much higher than common sports injuries, which slows down the healing process,” says Dr. Tehrany.

According to CrossFit skeptics, these exercise routines urge people to go beyond the point where their body tells them to stop, which is equal to some sort of sport extremism. The intensive nature of CrossFit increases the chances of suffering from an overuse injury. The repetitions are quite exhausting and often lead to shoulder injuries, or knee injuries, because people tend to overlook maintaining a proper form while exercising, and turn their attention to working out faster and harder.

On the other hand, CrossFit defenders say that any physical activity, including playing sports or just a regular visit to the gym, can end with an injury if it’s not practiced properly.

“One simply has to understand that CrossFit has risks like anything else, and those that like to engage in CrossFit must be prepared to practice the right techniques. CrossFit gyms aren’t necessarily run by certified strength and conditioning coaches. So, make sure your CrossFit gym is run by professionals,” advises Dr. Tehrany.

Practicing CrossFit safely without CrossFit Injuries

The key to CrossFit safety is doing things properly.

“Proper technique and a gradual progression will significantly decrease the risk of CrossFit knee injuries, like meniscus and ACL tears in the knee, and CrossFit shoulder injuries, like labrum and rotator cuff tears in the shoulder. These tears usually occur as a result of overuse and poor technique,” says Dr. Tehrany.

It’s easier for professional athletes to start this intensive regime. Their bodies are already used to repetitive combinations of pull-ups, push-ups, pressings, jumps and lunges. But, they still need to remember that paying attention to what their body says and slowing down or withdrawing when feeling sick or tired, is a must. Attention to the technique is crucial in achieving the desired results.

CrossFit Shoulder Injuries

For people who are just starting out with physical activities, or are beginners in fitness routines, there are more things to consider before joining a CrossFit gym. Before starting anything related to CrossFit, people need to make sure their bodies are physically ready to go through the work of the day. This can be achieved by joining a regular gym first, practicing regular exercises, and slowly intensifying these routines. After a while, the body will start gaining the strength that will make CrossFit beneficial, rather than risky.

“Adapting the body to a routine that pushes it to its limits is a very important aspect of CrossFit,” instructs Dr. Tehrany. “While I think it’s a great sport, and I think it’s helpful in keeping people in shape and making them feel great, it’s very important for them to make sure to stretch before and after and understand the risks involved. I also recommend speaking to a physical therapist or a trainer before they start their regimen, so they realize how quickly they should be going, or maybe how slowly they should be starting.

So, if you are interested in joining the CrossFit community, here is what you should do to avoid excessive CrossFit injuries:

  • Make sure you start your workout with an experienced, certified CrossFit trainer who will monitor you through the workouts.
  • Just in case, choose a CrossFit gym that is properly equipped for emergency.
  • Always, always, always warm up and stretch your body before and after every workout.
  • Pay close attention to your form while exercising. Have a trainer next to you to guide you and help you maintain the proper form.
  • Remember: it takes time to master the proper technique, be patient.
  • If you are feeling more tired than usual, take it slow. Forcing yourself to go faster and harder is the easiest way to develop a shoulder or knee injury.
  • As Dr. Tehrany says: “Control your workout and you will be safe. Be wise with what you are doing and you will look great!”
  • Last, but not least, listen your body. If it says: “Stop!” just stop. Over-training never leads to good results.

Before you start with CrossFit, it’s wise that you get a consult with a professional coach, trainer, or an orthopedic doctor. Being a sport enthusiast and sport advocate himself, Dr. Tehrany is eager to help you start your CrossFit routine smoothly. Feel free to schedule a consultation.

Do everything you can to be safe!