How To Avoid The Most Common CrossFit Injuries

How To Avoid The Most Common CrossFit Injuries

The popularity of CrossFit has exploded with measurable, functional training becoming the new fitness lifestyle and sport. The 2017 CrossFit Open included over 500,000 participants from all over the world and there is no sign of it slowing down.
As with any sport, there is good and bad. With new sports, like CrossFit, who are in their infancy stage of learning and adapting, they can be more susceptible to athlete injuries.
Although the core idea behind CrossFit is to have a functional fitness-training regimen to prepare people for the reality of daily fitness and health needs, it doesn’t mean CrossFit isn’t without injuries. Add on top of that, the sport of CrossFit with the demands of competition and you can quickly see CrossFit has its fair share of injuries.
Correcting weaknesses, being accurate with technique, and being consistent is the key to preventing injury. Let’s take a look at four common injuries in CrossFit and what we can do about each one.


Medial Epicondylitis

What it is: This is also known as golfers’ elbow. It is a tendinitis at the elbow where the flexor muscles attach. It is usually caused by multiple days of high volume grip work, such as deadlifting, farmers carry, pull ups, toes to bar, kettlebell swings, rowing and much more.
How to prevent it: your coach should have adequate rest days allowed between tough grip work days. Stretching and receiving forearm massages is also a good way to prevent excessive strain in this area. Spend a few minutes each day stretching the area by extending the fingers back, holding and releasing.


Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

What it is: this is a common injury in the shoulder caused to the stabilizer muscles of the shoulder. The attachment of these tiny, sensitive muscles become inflamed and damaged due to the load and stress of high volume that they are not yet ready to handle.
How to prevent it: Start by strengthening the group of muscles and never perform unstable or dynamic movements until there is a good amount of strength already developed in this area. This means being able to perform several repetitions of a movement with slow control before throwing your entire bodyweight at it (*Ahem! …kipping pull ups and muscle ups!)


Lower Back Pain

What it is: this is not an injury, per say, but let’s just leave this one at, there is a lot accommodation and adaptation happening at the level of the lumbar spine, which causes stiffness and pain in many CrossFit athletes. Using too much weight to perform too many repetitions on things like deadlifts, toes to bar, power cleans or snatches can cause back pain.
How to avoid it: consider spending more time performing consistent stable mid and lower back exercises. Strict toes to bar can also help ensure the hip flexors are strong, doing their job. Core work, like planks (loaded, if necessary), hollow body and more, can help to stabilize the lower back. In addition, being sure to take the time to warm up the glutes, hamstrings, and core before training can be very effective at minimizing or avoiding back pain.


New In 2017… Pec Tears!

What it is: this was evidently a bad year for pectoral tears. Many high level athletes at the CrossFit opens suffered pec tears. These were all fantastic athletes in fantastic shape. Yet they all shared one huge weakness in that they were unprepared for the high load of volume that would be placed on their pecs. Perhaps it was the fault of the organizers of the games…? This can be argued, but for now, let’s say that to much strain was placed on these guys.
How to avoid it: besides avoiding CrossFit all together, you might choose to look at crossfit as a sport. Any athlete in any sport is constantly working on weaknesses in their fitness. Being sure that all-around strength and fitness is being taken care of is very important. Many of these athletes had (relatively) poor mid back strength, which meant poor antagonists for the pec muscles.
Overall, prevention means taking care of your body. Rest and nutrition is when the body heals. Allowing muscles to completely and fully heal before tearing them up again is the best method of prevention. Cold showers, massage, and receiving therapy at the onset of pain is also suggested.

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Christie Leclair
Christie Leclair - Author

FD Bulsara, BSc is a competitive athlete in Olympic weightlifting and a student in Osteopathy. She coaches private and group fitness classes and freelance writing about her passions: fitness, health, sport, nutrition, weightlifting, CrossFit, injury prevention, pain relief, injury rehabilitation, and the latest research on all these topics! She is a dog person and spends free time training at the lake. Find her at

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