One of the biggest myths about CrossFit is that CrossFit injuries are as common as sand on the beach. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every day, athletes of all abilities gather in boxes and work out without a single problem. If anyone is hesitating to try CrossFit because it’s likely to get hurt, know this: any activity can get you hurt, if you’re not doing it right. If you want to stay healthy while you build strength and get into the best shape of your life, here are five tips to help.
Choose the right box. I can’t emphasize the importance of choosing the right box enough when it comes to preventing CrossFit injuries. I did a lot of research before I chose my box, and I picked one with experienced coaches who did not intimidate me. That’s key: not only do you want coaches who know what they’re doing, can teach you proper technique, and show you modifications and scaling options, but you also want coaches that you’re comfortable with.
Listen to your coach. No good coach is going to hand you a loaded bar on your first day – that’s how CrossFit injuries happen. Instead, your coach is going to hand you a PVC pipe to teach you barbell technique, then have you do the WOD with a training bar. There’s no shame in that. Your coach is a coach for a reason. If she tells you to take weight off the bar or stop pulling so high on your cleans or don’t even think about kipping until you’ve got a few good strict pull ups, listen.
Listen to your body. If you’re feeling a twinge in your shoulder or your back is hurting, or if you’re just not feeling 100%, that’s okay – you don’t have to go all out. You do have to try your best, but some days, that means using a lighter kettlebell, a shorter box, or asking for a scaling option. Sometimes, that might even mean an extra rest day. If your body is telling you to cut it out, cut it out.
Practice your technique. Good technique is probably one of the best ways to avoid CrossFit injuries. In fundamentals class and through Burgener warmups, your coach will take you through each of the elements of a lift. On your way home, stop at the hardware store and buy a length of PVC pipe, and practice your technique at home. Practice pulling, dropping under the bar, and quick turnovers. Practice, practice, practice. You’ll build muscle memory so that, as you increase the load in class, you’ll instinctively pull from the floor without engaging, say, your sensitive lower back.
Work on your mobility. Finally, good mobility is your friend for pretty much every movement at the box. It’s how you get deep into squats, pull under the bar during cleans, and do cool things like toes to bar. If your mobility is limited, talk to your coach for suggestions on how to improve. Take a yoga class (there might even be one at your box!) Stretch, foam roll, and get friendly with the lacrosse balls and bands.