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Comparing injuries in CrossFit athletes and gym-goers

Summary of an article on the differences in injuries between CrossFit and traditional weightlifting (resistance training) adult recreational athletes.

Who

411 adult recreational athletes.

CrossFit athletes
122 athletes (57% females)
aged 37.45 years
exercising 1-2 h 4.4 days/week
Traditional weightlifters *
289 athletes (30% females)
aged 31.62 years
exercising 1-2 h 4.5 days/week

Design

Cohort study, 15 questions, asking about the previous 2 years.

Outcome measures

  • Injury: “participants (…) self-determine whether an event should be considered an injury”.
  • Injury location and medical treatment.
  • Supplement use (multivitamins, protein powder, protein bars, branched chain amino acids, creatine, preworkout, DHEA, anabolic steroids, caffeine, fat burners).

Main results

  • 61% of crossfiters and 47% of traditional weightlifters sustained an injury in the previous 2 years. Crossfiters were 1.3 times more likely to be injured.
  • The likelihood of injury in CrossFit was 2.26 times higher (age and sex-adjusted) than in traditional weightlifting.
  • 65% of crossfiters and 35% of traditional weightlifters sought medical help. crossfiters were 1.86 times more likely to seek medical help.
  • For every 10 years increase in age, the risk of injury decreased by 13% in both sports (sport and sex-adjusted).
  • Males were 1.8 times more injured than females (sport and age-adjusted).
  • Supplements did not cause an increase in injuries (both groups).
  • Most common injuries in both groups were:
    • shoulder (44%)
    • low back (38%)
    • hip (9%)
  • Movement while CrossFit athletes were injured most:
    • clean and jerk (19%)
    • deadlift (19%)
    • snatch (16%)
  • Movement while traditional weightlifting athletes were injured most:
    • bench press (24%)
    • deadlift (22%)
    • back squat (17%)

Take home message

For a clinician
The likelihood of injury in CrossFit was 2.26 times higher than in traditional weightlifting* (recreational, adult) athletes. Shoulders and low back pain were the most common injuries. Males were 1.8 times more injured than females. Supplements did not cause an increase in injuries.
For a parent
Adult recreational CrossFit athletes were injured more than traditional weigthlifting athletes. Shoulders and low back pain were the most common injuries.
For an athlete
Adult recreational CrossFit athletes were injured more than traditional weigthlifting athletes. Shoulders and low back pain were the most common injuries.
* participant using free weights consistently

Original article

Elkin JL, Kammerman JS, Kunselman AR, Gallo RA. Likelihood of Injury and Medical Care Between CrossFit and Traditional Weightlifting Participants. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine. 2019 May 7;7(5):2325967119843348.

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