How Common Are Crossfit Injuries?

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, you have probably heard of Crossfit. It’s a workout program that is designed for high-performance individuals. Such a hardcore workout is bound to have a higher injury rate, and nearly everyone agrees that Crossfit training does indeed have a higher rate of injury.

How Common Are Crossfit Injuries?

Due to the popularity of Crossfit, many health scientists have taken it upon themselves to study its effects. Here is one such study. This one found the injury rate to be about 19%, with males having a slightly higher injury rate than females. This is actually a lot lower than we would have expected. Of course, we need a second opinion.

Here is another study conducted in a similar fashion. Here, the researchers reported an injury rate of about 73.5%: Nearly three-quarters of those who participated suffered some kind of injury. To be fair, it should be noted that only 7% of these injuries were serious enough to require surgery.

There is no need to summarize every study on the internet, as they seem to follow this same pattern. Some report very low rates and some some report very high rates, with very few examples in the middle. How do we explain these contradictory results?

The most logical conclusion here is that the rate of injury for Crossfit training depends on many factors and that some of these studies must have failed to account for some of those factors. The lack of consistency in the research shows a failure to isolate the determining factors.

Since the researchers have failed to do their jobs, we must make an educated guess. As a general statement, we would say that Crossfit training is safe for most people. However, it can become unsafe very quickly if performed incorrectly. It seems like one of those things that is effective, but which requires careful usage.

Which Injuries Are The Most Common?

Let’s take another look at that first study. Although this study found a relatively low injury rate (19%), it also found that some injuries were far more common than others. Most of the injuries they observed were injuries to:

  • The shoulders
  • The lower back
  • The knees

The second study that we examined in the section above came to the same results. Thus, these muscles can serve as your indicators. Like the proverbial “canary in the coal mines,” these muscles will tell you when it’s time to stop. If you are doing a Crossfit workout, and you start to experience serious pain and strain in your shoulders, lower back and/or knees, it’s time to pause that workout video and take a break.

Let’s look for another opinion on this one. Here is an article from a respected medical clinic that gives a list of the most common Crossfit injuries that they have seen. This list agrees very well with our other evidence but disagrees on two points. First, they found a high incidence of elbow injuries. Second, they reported a high rate of rhabdomyolysis, something that was not observed in any of the other studies.

How To Treat Common Crossfit Injuries:

If you have strained yourself while doing Crossfit, an ice pack is always a good place to start. Before beginning a Crossfit program, we recommend that you purchase a few inexpensive re-usable cold packs. These can be stored in the freezer and used as needed. Not only does the cold do a good job of numbing the pain, but it also tends to reduce inflammation. It has been proven to be safe and effective for these purposes, although you should be careful about the risk of frostbite.

Gentle massage can also help, as can certain pain-relieving ointments. However, all of these things are intended to treat the symptoms. The important thing is to avoid straining the affected muscles and ligaments any further. Let your body heal before you try to do anything strenuous again.

How To Avoid Crossfit Injuries

We have already mentioned the fact that Crossfit has a relatively high injury rate. However, there are some who have exaggerated this factor, and it’s only fair to consider this factor. For instance, let’s consider the case of Andy Petranek. A former Marine, Petranek was impressed by the tough and uncompromising nature of this workout. He dedicated himself fully to this new discipline, even going so far as to open a Crossfit gym.

Before too long, he was ready to take part in the International Crossfit Games, which could be described as the Crossfit equivalent of the Olympic Games. In anticipation of this, he doubled his training regimen, doing two workouts a day instead of the usual one. Although he saw improvements at first, this harsh regimen quickly wore down his body. Due to his injuries, he finished 62 out of 74 at the games.

Why did this happen? Because he forgot about one simple fact: The human body always has its limits. Even if you are in peak physical condition, you can only go so far before your body breaks down. Crossfit workouts are designed to push your body to its limits. Petranek deliberately exceeded those limits, and he paid the price. If you only take one thing from this article, it should be this: Never forget that your body has its limits.


We expected to find that Crossfit injuries were more common across the board, but we found something a little more nuanced. The available evidence would seem to indicate that Crossfit injury rates will depend entirely on you.

The key thing to remember here is the extreme nature of Crossfit. You’re already pushing yourself near your limit, so there is no room to ramp up the training. You are already at maximum, so don’t do anything to raise the intensity level any higher. As long as you remember that you are not Superman, you should be fine. If this article has answered your questions properly, we ask that you follow us on Facebook so that we can help you some more in the future.

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