if I had a nickle for every time I’ve heard this question I’d need to wear two belts to hold my pants up, cause that’s be a lot of nickles! I would think that if it’s dangerous it would’ve been shut down by now, but let’s talk about it just to appease the internets. Also with crossfit comes Paleo, and Quick Paleo Meal Prep is the best beginners and advanced resource manual I’ve found. So check it out. Let’s look at 3 things when determining CrossFits safety for now, reported major injuries, longevity and scalability.
REPORTED MAJOR INJURIES
I’ve followed CrossFit for over 3 years and have only heard of one serious injury, Kevin Ogar. Kevin is the only person who I’ve heard of in the last 3 years who has had a SERIOUS injury. Kevin was competing at a local competition and during the 1 rep snatch event he lost control of the weight and bailed (intentionally moved out from under the weight) forward; however, he stumbled and fell back as the weight was bouncing up and it collided with his lower back. To clarify, by no means was Kevin a “novice” in weightlifting. The weight he was attempting would have been considered competitive on any national stage, so he had the experience as a weightlifter to handle the weight and know how to get out from under the weight. Kevin was left paralyzed from the waist down, but instead of being bitter towards crossfit and blaming the company for his injury he’s been the biggest advocacy of the sport. Also he’s competed in the 2015 world open workout and submitted a non scaled workout with muscle ups all while still being paralyzed from the waist down. So I would think that if the person who was injured in the most permanent way possible is able to recognize that while what happened was a freak accident, that crossfit still holds value to all people.
Let’s look at longevity in the sense of being able to perform the sport for an extended period of time, as well as how well the sport crosses over to age groups. Starting with the ability to perform the sport of CrossFit for a long period let’s note the fact that it’s been around since 2007 and there are athletes who have been competing since 2009 in the 2015 games. These aren’t just weekend warriors who are competing but athletes who have devoted their lives to the sport, and have only shown signs of getting better every year. In the case of most individual competitors who might not be rising to the level of competition now, they’re going into team competitions. So there’s no evidence of “breakdown” from the sport among the most competitive which indicates that the weekend warriors are even more safe. Now the question of which ages can stand the training is even more interesting. There are men and women in their 70’s who have taken up the sport and learned the practices. Not only have these elders become more active now, but they’ve been shown how to mobilize themselves as well as strengthen their bodies to improve movements in daily life. There’s are many 70 something’s who credit CrossFit with giving them the ability to sustain a fall they had at home, and that’s impressive!
I’ve referenced the scaling term and now let’s talk about it. Is it possible to come into CrossFit with no athletic background and work your way into the shape of a competitive athlete? The simple answer is yes. I started in CrossFit with a small background in bodybuild and no real athletic potential, but I started at the bottom learning the basics of mobility and weak point training to better myself. Through two years I’ve pushed through and developed myself to the point of being somewhat competitive at a beginner level. In short scaling is the process of lowering the weights and difficulty of movements to a point that’s manageable to get the benefits cardiovascular and muscular. I hope this helps you wherever you’re at.
Go join a CrossFit gym on a free trial basis to learn the ins and outs of the sport before jumping to conclusions. Assess your mobility and imbalances muscullarly. Do real research on the benefits of training with functional movements consistently.
Resources CrossFit Journal, Barbell Shrugged and CrossFit.com