“Crossfitters are always injured”
“You are more likely to get injured if you do Crossfit”
“Crossfit will always end with injury”
These are quotes that I hear often as a physical therapist. Sometimes it is from former crossfitters, other times from people considering beginning Crossfit, and oftentimes from those who have never participated in it. My LEAST FAVORITE place to hear it from is other healthcare professionals.
Because it’s just NOT TRUE!
Now, allow me to support this claim.
As Crossfit has exploded in popularity over the last ten years, research has started to catch up to these statements. For those interested in a juicy story, these statements even resulted in a massive lawsuit against an organization claiming Crossfit’s inherent danger (more on that later).
First, let’s establish the argument to be made. It would be inaccurate to say that Crossfit does not result in injuries. However, it would also be unfair to say that running, basketball, golf, tennis, or any other sport does not result in just as many injuries. There is a reason you see statements like the one below on many gym waivers.
I understand and acknowledge that the use of exercise equipment involves risk of serious injury, including permanent disability and death.
It’s because injury can occur from ANYTHING. I’ve even seen clients who are having pain simply from starting to take a daily long walk. This means the goal isn’t to participate in an activity with zero risk, but to participate in activities that we enjoy, with a reasonable risk of injury, that also allows us to see the mountain of benefits of being active.
Now, let’s compare Crossfit to some other activities.
Feito 2017 reports a Crossfit injury rate of 0.27 per 1,000 training hours. That’s tiny! 1,000 hours of running at a 10 minute/mile would be 6,000 miles run! (no, this doesn’t mean running is bad either).
Hak 2013 found 3.1 injuries per 1,000 training hours. Higher than Feito, but still very small.
In comparison, Vidabaek 2015 reports a running-related injury incidence rate of 2.5 per 1,000 training hours (trained runners) up to 33 per 1,000 training hours in novice runners.
Kilmek 2018 performed a systematic review and meta-analyses showing Crossfit injury rates comparable or lower than olympic weightlifting, distance running, rugby, track and field, and gymnastics.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as I have read many, many articles reporting injury rates in other sports either similar to, or greater than Crossfit.
So, where does all the incorrect information come from?
I believe that mostly it’s just a misunderstanding. In my experience, people are just not aware of what the research says. However, there has been at least one case of an organization manipulating data to paint a picture of Crossfit as more dangerous than other activities. Read more here: https://keepfitnesslegal.crossfit.com/2015/09/21/nsca-admits-publishing-false-claims-about-crossfit-injuries/
As a Doctor of Physical Therapy with a background in research, I continually assess what the data says when it comes to injury risk. Over the last few years I have been unable to find a single reliable source reporting Crossfit is inherently more dangerous than any other activity.
Why is this important?
Putting aside how tremendously unfair it is to falsely accuse Crossfit of being overly dangerous, it is encouraging people to avoid activity. This is a BIG PROBLEM! Our country’s biggest health threats are almost exclusively related to a lack of physical activity. To discourage anyone from being active in anything they enjoy – Crossfit, running, weightlifting – is not only unfair, but downright harmful to population health.
At Mobility Fit, we believe activity is a solution to many health problems (and there is a lot of research supporting that). If you have an injury preventing you from staying or getting active in anything you enjoy, come see us! We have specialists in almost any activity – Crossfit, running, golf, tennis and more!
Feito, Yuri, Evanette K. Burrows, and Loni Philip Tabb. “A 4-Year Analysis of the Incidence of Injuries Among CrossFit-Trained Participants.” Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine 6.10 (2018): 2325967118803100.
Hak, Paul Taro, Emil Hodzovic, and Ben Hickey. “The nature and prevalence of injury during CrossFit training.” Journal of strength and conditioning research (2013).
Klimek, Chelsey, et al. “Are injuries more common with CrossFit training than other forms of exercise?.” Journal of sport rehabilitation 27.3 (2018): 295-299.
Videbæk, Solvej, et al. “Incidence of running-related injuries per 1000 h of running in different types of runners: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Sports medicine 45.7 (2015): 1017-1026.