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Dealing with CrossFit-related Injuries leading up to the Open

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

With the CrossFit Open coming up, many CrossFit boxes around the world are ramping up training volume to prepare their athletes for this competition season. Though intensity is scalable and relative in the sport of CrossFit, many amateur and even experienced athletes may go too-fast-too-soon, increasing the potential risk of injury.

CrossFit weightlifting
Source: Actualize Crossfit

Before you continue reading on, we would like to add a disclaimer, that research on CrossFit injury rates are found to be low, and comparable to other forms of recreational fitness activities with an overall injury incidence rate of 2.1 hours per 1000 hours (Moran).

Here's a table that compares the various strength sports and their injury rates:

Rather than making “injuries” and “CrossFit” synonymous terms, this article seeks to shed light on how to reduce the occurrence of such injuries, and to keep you safe as you prepare for the CrossFit Open!

Why do injuries occur in CrossFit?

Anytime someone pursues a recreational activity with intensity and volume, injuries are possible, and CrossFit as a sport, is no exception.

Injuries can occur for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Training above your maximal recoverable volume

  • Lack of proper guidance on form and technique

  • Not understanding the proper progressions required

Without going into too much detail on the technicalities of the sport, we'll dive into the common CrossFit-related injuries and how to recognize them. They include:

  • Back Pain

  • Knee Pain

  • Shoulder Pain

  • Wrist Pain

How Do We Reduce the Risk of Injuries in CrossFit?

While injury is uncommon in the daily workout, the Open is a period of competition. For the general population, the Open is a benchmark for themselves, but for some people striving to be the best on the CrossFit Open leaderboard, injuries can happen in the speed that movement is executed with the competition on a global scale.

There are a few key things we can do to help minimize the risk of injury for athletes participating in CrossFit:

#1 Start with good basics

The BASE workshop at Actualize CrossFit teaches you the fundamentals of the movement, ensuring that you have the proper form and engage the right muscles as you head into your sessions!

#2 Mechanics, Consistency, then Intensity

From the start, CrossFit trainers have been charged with focusing on foundational movement mechanics and understanding that this is paramount to the long-term development of any athlete. The mechanics-consistency-intensity charter is one of the most overlooked and undervalued tenets of the CrossFit programme and prescribes intensity ONLY AFTER sound mechanics are consistently executed. [Source: CrossFit Journal]

#3 Warm Up

It's important to properly warm up prior to a WOD. If you don't, your muscles might not be ready for the workout and you could risk tearing a muscle or ligament. Check out this video to find out how you can strengthen your wrists to catch those heavy weights!

#4 Scale Accordingly

Follow proper exercise progressions when developing new skills. It is important to scale movements as you increase your strength and skill level. Do not rush into advanced movements before you have built a foundation of strength and skill in the basic movement patterns. If a movement is too difficult, then use an easier variation that still gets the job done while allowing you to keep moving safely.

#5 Train at appropriate levels of volume

Injuries happen but they can be prevented by taking the time to learn proper form and rest between workouts. When you feel pain during CrossFit workouts stop immediately! Take some time off until you can safely complete a movement again without pain or discomfort.

#6 Take rest days!

CrossFit recommends a 3 days on, 1 day off recovery protocol, but this differs from one person to the next. Listen to your body!

Does physiotherapy prevent injury?

Every activity has its risks, so it is important that you take these steps to reduce the risk of injury.

Physiotherapy can help prevent injuries by correcting any muscle imbalances or weakness that you might have. Physiotherapists first assess the biomechanical function of athletes to correct any movement patterns that may contribute to a future injury.

It is important for athletes to improve their strength, flexibility, coordination, speed, and power in order to prevent injuries and a physiotherapist can help circumvent injuries by working with coaches to get athletes to train smarter with proper movement patterns.

Sports injuries are not limited to professional athletes but the everyday CrossFitter as well. This is why we make it our mission to help prevent these injuries before they happen, helping our patients and athletes to get back to doing what they love pain-free, Move Better, Feel Better, and Thrive.

Our treatment takes a holistic approach to your training and workout routine. We work with you and your coaches to provide guidance on proper movement patterns and training schedules.

If you are experiencing pain or injury, or know that work needs to be done on those imbalances, book an appointment with us today to get started before it’s too late!


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