CrossFit For Beginners
Ben Evans – Chiropractor at Skelian in Cheltenham talks though his experience of CrossFit so far…
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a competitive fitness sport, which was created by Greg Glassman in the year 2000. It incorporates exercises from many other sports such as gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting and HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Typically, exercises are chosen with a specific number of repetitions and rounds to be performed in sequence within a certain timeframe. This means that athletes will compete to finish the exercises in the least amount of time. This is known as a WOD (workout of the day) and is possibly the most recognised part of CrossFit.
Why is CrossFit criticised?
CrossFit has been globally criticised for causing many injuries to its athletes with claims of the movements being too dangerous to perform in a high-intensity workout. The time cap on many WODs is encouraging athletes to rush through the exercise resulting in poor technique, which can eventually lead to injury if done enough times.
What does the evidence say?
There have been 3 recent research articles exploring the incidence of CrossFit injuries. All of the studies unanimously concluded that the injury rates with CrossFit training are low and similar to that of gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting and power-lifting debunking the myth that CrossFit is the cause to many of these injuries. They found the injury rates were between 2.1 and 3.1 injuries per athlete per 1000 training hours.
If you are an athlete looking to improve performance, then training is an essential part of the process. If you train with intensity and volume, no matter what sport or exercises you are training for, you will undoubtedly pick up the odd twinge or injury over the years. It’s inevitable! However, despite the evidence clearly showing that CrossFit is no more dangerous than any other sport be it running or Olympic Weightlifting.
From a CrossFit beginner & Chiropractor
From my own personal experience of CrossFit, it is easy to see why its popularity has grown at a rate of knots. The workouts are strenuous, difficult and demanding. They require skills from many different aspects, from many different sports testing endurance, strength, coo-ordination, balance and more. However, the feeling of accomplishment and rush of endorphins is amongst the highest of any exercise I have ever done. There is a fantastic sense of camaraderie when done with peers and each workout is different from the last, which keeps things interesting especially if you’re the type of person who gets bored easily with training.
After experiencing numerous injuries myself throughout many years of rugby and gymnastics, CrossFit, in my opinion, did not seem to be more dangerous or cause more injuries than any other sport or exercise I’ve performed in the past. I believe that when done properly with good technique, CrossFit can be very beneficial in developing many different aspects of athletic performance. However, there is no denying that if an individual does not have the right foundations of each exercise to build upon, he/she will be more susceptible to injury if allowed to continue to perform the exercise with improper technique and basic strength. It is these individuals which are likely experiencing more injuries especially when the exercise performed incorrectly is done over and over again as quickly as possible, naturally leading to further breakdown of an already improper technique. In my opinion this could apply to any sport.
A few helpful tips
If it is the first time you have stepped foot inside of a gym, it is probably not the best idea to go straight for CrossFit. I would suggest working each individual aspect in your own time to properly focus on technique before putting some weights on the bar. Easing yourself into sports such as gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting would be a sensible move as these contain the most technical movements, which can take years to master.
If you are an athlete with years of athletic experience, do not ignore the above. It is still essential to work on proper technique in order to build solid foundation. If you already have experience performing all of these movement exercises, the next best step to improve your physical abilities, would be to focus on mobility in order to get into those tough positions to further improve technique.
Areas such as ankle dorsi-flexion (bringing your feet towards your body) is very important movement, when performing a full depth squat. If the ankles do not track over the knees, the hips will raise first putting stress onto the lower back, which can in turn lead to injury if done many times over.
If you are unsure about your physical ability to give CrossFit a go. I recommend seeking a health professional’s advice before doing so. If you would like to see myself or one of the chiropractors at Skelian for a physical assessment, please contact the clinic on 01242 25400 or email the clinic at email@example.com. I look forward to helping you on your fitness journey.