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Study finds CrossFit injury rates are similar to weight lifting and gymnastics

While popular media outlets continue referring to CrossFit as a dangerous workout, a recent study found that injury rates associated with CrossFit training are similar to those for Olympic weight lifting, power lifting and gymnastics.

Study finds CrossFit associated injuries aren't as common as injuries from contact sports, like rugby
Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

For those who've adopted the fast-growing training methodology, this shouldn't come as a surprise; elements of the three sports are regularly adapted for CrossFit workouts. In fact, some of the country's top CrossFit athletes are also some of the country's top weight lifters.

Mainstream news stories have called CrossFit "the world's most dangerous workout," adding fuel to the controversy about the high-intensity training program. The study found injury rates for CrossFit training are lower than some competitive contact sports, such as rugby. This isn't necessarily a great figure, considering rugby, a full contact sport, is one of the world's most injury-prone sports.

With 132 responses, the study found that 73% of athletes sustained an injury during CrossFit training with an injury rate of 3.1 per 1000 hours trained. Despite all of the media attention on CrossFit's link to cases of rhabdomyolysis, none of the study's participants experienced rhabdomyolysis.

Kipping pull-ups and their associated SLAP and labrum tears, when they're taught without requiring prerequisite strength, continue to be one of the most common causes of injuries in CrossFit. Not surprisingly, shoulder injuries, along with spine injuries, were the most common types of injuries reported in the study.

In an "open source" model like CrossFit, especially one growing so quickly, it can be difficult to enforce prerequisite strength and movement standards when CrossFit gyms are opening at unprecedented rates around the world.

To help prevent some of these common shoulder injuries, if your affiliate owner isn't ensuring proper prerequisite strength movements and proper form before teaching movements like the kipping pull-up, ask them about it.

As CrossFit continues growing as a sport, there's no question that there will continue to be risks and injuries associated with training. To help avoid injuries in your CrossFit training, make sure to always value your form first and give your body time to recover, even if it means lifting lighter than your training partner or not doing a workout "Rx'ed" that day.

If you're not training for the CrossFit Games, CrossFit is meant to prepare you for life, not leave you injured and sitting at home. Any training program can cause injuries, but with proper rest and form, CrossFit can be one of the most effective.

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