In a word, maybe. Many of you have heard this from friends when you tell them about CrossFit. Some will talk about articles they’ve read about rhabdo and other such injuries. The truth is that CrossFit’s methodology is incredibly effective in achieving GPP when executed correctly. But, in all athletic activities where the challenge is intense physically and mentally, there is an element of danger.
CrossFit WODs are often referred to as intense. CrossFit defines intensity as going as fast and hard as you physically AND mentally can. Although for some, describing Fran as intense may be a ridiculous understatement, but the definition still applies.
There are innumerable factors that factor into a WOD such as:
Most of the serious injuries that have come out of CrossFit occur with athletes who have an incredible tolerance for pain and have pushed the mental envelope to its limits in the past. Their bodies are in decent shape, but their minds remember how to push as if they are the finely tuned athletes they were a few years back. The mind, then is both a beautiful and dangerous thing. It’s then the coach’s job to scale back this athlete’s reps, weights, and sets until his body catches up with his mind.
Other times injuries occur from weaknesses and inflexibilities that have accumulated over the years that prevent us from performing the functional movements our bodies were meant to. Here, it’s up to the coach to identify the mobility issues, scale back (or sub) necessary movements until the athlete is capable of performing these lifts safely.
I’ve also seen people suffer through a WOD and look like roadkill afterwards (ok, MORE like roadkill than usual) only to tell me they slept two hours or haven’t eaten all day. Here, it’s the athlete’s job to keep the coach informed about their condition. There is merit to training for the unknown and the unknowable, but there is also stupidity in trying to throw heavy weight around when you are not physically OR mentally capable of it. So, embrace the suck but do so intelligently. There is a time and a place for bootcamp style training, but not while snatching your bodyweight.
Hopefully this helps you when your friends try to quote numerous articles about the dangers of CrossFit. Long story short (too late), CrossFit is only dangerous if the coach or athlete acts irresponsibly or without regard for the athlete’s long term health and wellness. We as CrossFitters poke fun at ‘globo gyms’ but our culture has sprouted a new breed of “CrossFit globos” where shredded hands are a badge of honor, where Rx’d is a religion, and where form and safety are traded for seconds shaved off their girl WODs.
It is an athlete’s responsibility to find a coach (in CrossFit or any sport) who knows the importance of scaling, recognizes athletes’ limitations and strengths (especially if those strengths become limitations), cares about the athletes’ longevity beyond the immediate future, and maintains an open line of communication with their athletes. Trying to wrench your body through movements or under loads that you’re not prepared for is dangerous and so is a coach that permits and/or encourages it.
Power Snatch 3×3
3 Power Snatch
compare to 01.20.10 and 05.04.10