I have seen a number of writings recently denouncing CrossFit and it's effectiveness and/or safety. Normally I disregard such articles with the understanding that CrossFit is not for everyone and some people will just never 'get it.' That's ok. Plenty of people (ok, a ton of people) love CrossFit and swear it is the best thing that has ever happened to them. But these articles rarely cite those sources.
However, when someone goes so far as to state the following, I find my stomach turning and wonder why the rampage? "Crossfit should not be an exercise program. Crossfit is definitely not
for a serious athlete, someone with a current injury, and anyone over 35
years old." Really? Is Rich Froning not a serious athlete? The man won $250,000 last year doing CrossFit (plus additional for sponsorships I imagine). I would consider myself a serious runner and the most I've ever earned was $150 (which really only paid for the shoes I trained in for that race).
This article is by Justin Levine at trifuel.com (an online triathlon magazine, if that's not obvious). His basic point is that CrossFit is not safe and everyone will eventually get hurt, so don't do it, OR "If you are a CF fan, and having fun, keep doing what you do, just
understand that there could be harmful repercussions later in life from
what you are doing right now." Uh, duh? There are harmful repercussions to the pasta carbo loading dinners before every Ironman, or the repetitive running performed by those athletes as well. He cites an individual that injured a rotator cuff doing CrossFit, but I have met a heck of a lot more swimmers with shoulder injuries than CrossFitters. Everything is dangerous if you don't do it wisely. I think anyone who needs a warning about that also needs help. He singles out kipping pullups and the push press as exercises likely to cause harm and often not done properly in CrossFit. I can't speak for others, but when I do my pullups, I pay attention to how my body feels. I don't go to the extremes and violently jerk my body around to get the kip. Instead, I focus on the standards our coaches teach and do the movement with control and grace (ok, I'm kinda stretching the graceful part there. I just hope it's graceful. I tell you, Trish has a very graceful kip, but mine is probably not so pretty). Likewise, box jumps are dangerous as both Lawyerhands and I have discovered. But I can't say I didn't know it was possible to hurt myself on it. I made some bad decisions when I went for the 24" and I knew it. But I will tell you this, I would rather gain the strength earned from jumping on boxes and risk some shin scabs than sit on the sideline and become another statistic of health problems.
I think one of the highlights of his article is when he states: "We will see where this Crossfit craze goes in the next five years. I
wouldn’t be surprised if it faded out and people came back to smarter,
more functional training methods, I guess time will only see." I recall back in 2000 everyone and their brother decided triathlons were the 'in' thing. We all went out bought an overly expensive bike and joined the ranks of Dave Scott doing Ironman competitions around the world. Mine took me all the way to New Zealand, where I spent a crap load of money to go out and waste myself for an entire day. And that was after months of squeezing in swimming, biking, running workouts in a week, often doing double workout days to get enough "time on the bike." When I married, my husband was not so keen on not seeing me pretty much all the time and did not hesitate to tell me so. Fast forward a few years and CrossFit is born. It has been something like 6 years since it's inception and it is growing like wildfire. Our gym has exploded with people who have tried everything else (including triathlons) and are not getting fit. I am not seeing people getting hurt by CrossFit. I'm not sure where all these injured people are. I know our coaches are phenomenal and care very much about every single person in the gym. They watch people closely to ensure movements are safe. And it is my understanding that a lot of the injuries in the gym occur outside the gym when people go off and play basketball or run too much. (On a side note, I do love running and biking-swimming not so much-so I fully intend to go back to New Zealand and do the Ironman again, but that will be many years from now when the kids are older and I have the money to spend on such a lavish sport. My point was not to suggest triathlons are not fun and challenging).
I'm not so much picking on this guy for his points. Maybe he truly has everyone's best interest at heart and just doesn't want people to risk their safety. But I think if you look at his argument, then you would have to rule out a ton of other "sports" as being unsafe and unwise to continue. In this group, I would add triathlon, running and surely cycling. All of these cause IMMENSE overuse injuries and injures caused by improper bio-mechanics. When I signed up for Team in Training to train for Wildflower many, many years ago, no coach ever told me how to properly ride my bike or run. Does that mean all people should cease doing these charitable programs? When I first started doing spin classes, not one single instructor ever talked to me about proper bio-mechanics of riding a bike. In fact, these instructors receive even less training than CrossFit coaches do, which was another contention this article had with the safety of CrossFit (the short weekend certification of instructors). I have quite a few friends that have crashed on their bikes and can no longer function normally due to their injuries, but they rarely tell you to stop riding due to that risk.
I think common sense should rule on all things. If you are looking to do CrossFit and your instructor tells you to "hammer out" a movement that you don't feel comfortable doing: STOP and ask for help. If you can't get help, go find another CrossFit whose coaches care about your safety. If you are doing Fran and find yourself compromising on the movement to beat the guy next to you, you have a pride issue and you can't so much blame CrossFit as your own ego. I'd venture to guess the majority of people that got hurt doing CrossFit were people that 1. Didn't ask for help when they needed it 2. Let their ego get in the way of safety or 3. Didn't listen to their own bodies. If you have a problem with any of these, I would suggest you stop exercising and sit on the sofa. You will likely die of a heart attack sooner, but at least you can't blame your injury on exercise.
That's enough about this article, but I have one more article to review, coming soon... Feel free to comment and suggest how biased I am or whatever assumptions you want to make, but truthfully, I don't care. I love CrossFit and will keep doing it safely as long as I live. I also love running, which plenty of people (including the CrossFit community) criticize as being dangerous and likely to induce injury. Everyone's got something to complain about...