If you’ve ever watched a video of someone doing CrossFit, you know how intense the workouts can be. Between kipping pull-ups, Olympic weightlifting exercise, and seemingly endless burpees, a lot happens during a typical WOD (Workout of the Day). 

Based on the difficulty of certain CrossFit workouts, some critics claim that it comes with a higher injury risk than other forms of exercise. Is there any merit to these criticisms, though?

Before you decide to forgo CrossFit because you think it’s too advanced or dangerous, consider this information about CrossFit safety and injury prevention.


CrossFit vs Weightlifting

Often, those concerned about the safety of CrossFit worry because they’re comparing it to activities like weightlifting. This comparison isn’t exactly a fair one, though.

Both types of workouts do involve barbell exercises. However, that’s one of their only similarities. 

CrossFit workouts are characterised by various high-intensity exercises, combined into workouts of the day. WODs focus on increasing strength, speed, muscular endurance, and aerobic endurance.

On the other hand, weightlifting emphasises movements like barbell snatches or barbells clean and jerks. Weightlifters strive to perform these exercises with the heaviest weights possible while maintaining good form.  

High-Intensity Exercise and Injury Risk

Another similarity between CrossFit and weightlifting has to do with intensity. Both workouts fall under the umbrella of high-intensity exercise.

The difference is that weightlifting is intense because it involves exercising with heavy loads. CrossFit is intense because it involves exercising with moderate loads but moving quickly.

It’s true that high-intensity workouts (including CrossFit and weightlifting) are typically associated with a higher risk of acute injuries (injuries that occur suddenly) than low-intensity exercises like walking or cycling.

Before you write off high-intensity exercise, it’s also important to note that these injuries usually result from preventable issues. Some examples include poor technique, improper warm-ups, or pushing oneself past their limit.

Potential CrossFit Injuries

Some of the most common CrossFit injuries affect the shoulders, hips, knees, and lower back. 

Many of these issues are linked to improper exercise techniques. If you perform a muscle-up incorrectly, you might strain your shoulders. If you try to jump over a box that’s too high, you might hurt your knees.

When you push yourself too far or perform exercises incorrectly, you may place unwanted strain on your joints and surrounding tissues. This strain can cause pulled muscles, torn ligaments, and other acute injuries. 

Preventing CrossFit Injuries

After reading about the potential injury risk associated with CrossFit workouts, you might worry that this type of exercise isn’t right for you.

In reality, you can avoid the most common CrossFit injuries and experience all the benefits CrossFit offers (increased strength, stamina, discipline, etc.) by taking proper precautions.

These tips can help you stay safe during CrossFit workouts and maximise your results:

Maintain Perspective

Many CrossFit injuries occur when the person doing the workout overdoes it and loses perspective.

Some people get so invested in their CrossFit workouts that they forget they’re not professional athletes. As a result, they exceed their limit, ignore signs that they’re lifting too heavy or moving too quickly, and get hurt.

When you remember why you’re doing CrossFit and that your safety matters more than hitting a new PR, you’ll be less likely to deal with injuries.    

Start Slow

Beginners might face a higher risk of injury when they first start CrossFit because they don’t master the basics before moving on to more advanced workouts.

The best CrossFit boxes offer an on-ramp program that teaches newcomers the basics and helps them get comfortable performing staple CrossFit exercises. Going through this program allows you to feel more confident and decreases your risk of getting hurt.

If a box doesn’t offer any on-ramp or introductory options, it might not be the right fit for you.

Master Correct Form Before Increasing Intensity

You might technically be able to lift a particular weight. However, that doesn’t mean you can safely lift that weight.

Before you add extra plates to the bar or decide to try jumping up on a higher box, take a step back and ask yourself if you can still perform the exercise correctly. 

Proper form is critical when it comes to staying safe and avoiding CrossFit injuries. Work with a coach to master the basics before you try to level up your exercise intensity. 

Warmup Properly

You can also avoid a lot of common CrossFit injuries when you start each workout with a proper warm-up.

A good warm-up focuses on frequently injured areas like the knees, hips, and shoulders.

By performing exercises that get the blood flowing to these areas and strengthen your mind-muscle connection, you’ll be less likely to deal with an injury when you get into the WOD.  

Know When to Take Time Off

Some people who enjoy CrossFit enjoy it so much that they want to push through small aches and pains so they can continue exercising.

The problem with this approach is that ignoring seemingly minor issues can cause them to worsen and turn into more severe injuries.

If you maintain perspective and take time off at the first sign of trouble (and visit a doctor if you think it’s necessary), you’ll avoid more extensive problems and will be back in the box before you know it.  

How Do CrossFit Injuries Compare to Weightlifting Injuries?

Like most other types of exercise, some risk of injury is associated with weightlifting and CrossFit. 

However, research also shows that, for the most part, both of these workout modalities have relatively low injury rates. Injury rates are especially low when qualified coaches create the workouts and oversee their trainees.

When you learn from trained professionals, avoid pushing yourself too hard, and warmup up correctly before every WOD, your injury risk drops dramatically.

Here at Crossfit Noble Park, we proudly provide classes led by world-class trainers. We prioritise teaching proper techniques and offer tailored programs (with carefully planned warmups) to everyone who enters our box to ensure they have a fun and safe experience.

Sign up for a membership today!