Will I Get Hurt Doing CrossFit? A Physial Therapist's Perspective

“Everybody gets hurt doing Crossfit.”As a physical therapist, I hear this all the time and the inner CrossFitter in me wants to scream!

So, I decided to do some research to shed some light on the subject. Although there are few documented studies looking at the injury rate and patterns among CrossFit athletes, some clear trends emerged.

What I Found

Injury Rates

  • Injury rate is similar to general gym/fitness club participants.

  • CrossFit can function safely for athletes across age groups if performed in a safe environment.

  • No significant difference in injury rate based on length of participation in CrossFit or length of training session, although more seasoned athletes have longer training sessions.

Coaching and Supervision

  • Lower injury rate at affiliates that require a fundamentals/on-ramp program for new members.

  • Females are significantly more likely to seek coach supervision than males.

  • Significant correlation between injury rate and level of coach supervision.

Injury Specifics

  • Most common places of injury are shoulder (gymnastics movements) and low back (olympic lifts).

  • Males are found to be significantly more likely to injure themselves than females

  • Most reported self diagnosis is general inflammation and pain, with most injuries being minor and return to training likely.

What Do I See?

As a physical therapist, Level One CrossFit trainer and avid CrossFit participant, I am on the front lines of injury rates and patterns among local CrossFit athletes.

I find that crossfitters are very aware of their bodies, limitations, and abilities. They often know when something feels "wrong" or "off". If the bottom of the squat or the lockout position feels funny, most will know it immediately.

The majority of the CrossFit athletes I treat come in with minor injuries and can continue training throughout physical therapy (although sometimes with modifications). The typical stay is around 6-8 visits over the course of 2-4 weeks. The most common injuries I see in the clinic are overuse, inflammatory issues such as shoulder tendonitis, lateral epicondylitis, and a few shoulder impingement syndromes. These injuries are usually the result of mobility issues that when corrected, resolve on their own.



After the initial course of treatment, it is not unusual for crossfitters to come back for an appointment to "check in" and get a "tune up" so their issues, either new or old, stay at bay.  I also provide advanced consultation on proper form so athletes are using perfect technique, especially during olympic lifts.

Unlike other athletes I treat, I have never worked with a cross fitter who had to undergo surgery or quit training long term due to injuries resulting from their participation in CrossFit. 

I also see that most CrossFitters I treat or work out with are passionate about movement and function. As a physical therapist, I love to see this and instead of discouraging any type of physical activity, my goal is to always to help people STAY ACTIVE while preventing and managing injuries.

My Best Advice to Stay Injury Free

  • Choose a CrossFit gym that requires a fundamentals class. We’ve all done it, and it’s for your benefit.

  • Make sure you have knowledgeable coaches who you're comfortable with.The coach shouldn’t be on the cell phone, gabbing with other athletes or turning their back to you. A great coach will keep an eye on all athletes and provide constant guidance during the WOD.

  • Ask for help! Don’t leave the workout wondering if your form is ok, or if something feels “funny." Ask for feedback so you can avoid injury and maximize benefits.

  • Master proper technique before adding more weight. Finishing first in your class or earning a PR are not worth an injury. Lift smart and you will stay in the game!

  • Team up with a trusted medical professional! Work with someone who's as passionate about staying active as you are. If something hurts for more than three days, get it checked out! Don't push through the pain and let something minor turn into something major.

  • Have fun and do what you love!

Marnie Wortman

Marnie Wortman

By Dr. Marnie Wortman, PT, DPT, ART, CF-L1


The Nature and Prevalence of Injury During CrossFit Training  Hak and Hickey

Prevalence and Incidence Rates are not the Same Giordano,Brian MD; Weisenthal,Benjamin BA

Injury Rate and Patterns Among CrossFit Athletes Weisenthal, Beck, et al.

Fool Proof Way to Tie Your Running Shoes!

Shoe Tie Method

Shoe Tie Method

A patient recently showed me an awesome new shoe tie method! It was so great, I convinced him to create a YouTube Tutorialso other runners (and everyone) could benefit!I've tried many methods, but this one is secure and comes undone with just one easy pull.

Game changer, especially with the kiddos!

Thanks for sharing Jackson!

Direct You Tube Link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqCV93cHwlg

How To Save Your Back with Safe Holiday Lifting!

Save Your Back with Safe Lifting

ow does Santa deliver gifts to over 365,000 children per minute and with no back pain?  

He lifts correctly and safely!

Before you lift the object, think about where you need it to go

If you are lifting from the floor, kneel with one foot on the floor or squat down

Never lean over at the waist and pull!

Keep it close!

Keep your back straight, don’t round!

Use your leg muscles, not your back

Move slowly and controlled, don’t twist!

If you have to turn, move your feet, not your waist

Slowly place the object down, keeping your back straight

When in doubt, ask an elf or two for help!

Stay safe!

Marnie Wortman

Marnie Wortman

By Dr. Marnie Wortman, DPT, ART, Cert.MDT, CKTP

Runners: Physical Therapy NOT Just For Serious Injuries

How One Runner Incorporates Physical Therapy

Paige is one of our favorite patients of all time! She is an outstanding patient (commited, hard-working, optimistic and compliant), but more than that, she is fascinating. It's not everyday that we meet a runner, knitter, entrepreneur, designer, writer and more who makes us belly laugh and inspires us to embrace who we really are.

She's also a master at using her resources. Paige understands the value of using a coach/expert in different areas of life to keep her focused and moving forward. In PT, we do that literally. Instead of waiting until her pain gets out of control, she comes in for just a few visits to ensure a proper diagnosis, quickly resolve an issue and be directed regarding self-treatment. We love that!!



As I mentioned, Paige is also a talented writer. You can read her fantastic blog here http://onthelambdesigns.com.

In other exciting news, Paige just launched a running apparel company that fittingly specializes in wool designs. Here is a sneak peak at some designs that will be available next fall: http://onthelambdesigns.com/2014/07/22/big-day/

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Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.40.53 AM

In her own words…

Three words to describe me...Quick-witted, Big-hearted, Loyal

What brought you to PT?I initially came to Iron PT to resolve a lingering hip issue. At that time I had been in PT (elsewhere) for over a month, but felt stymied and frustrated as there had been no improvement. I remembered seeing Dr. Mayes' blog through the Essex Running Club's website, liked what I saw, and figured I really had nothing to lose.

At my first appointment, Dr. Mayes did the most complete assessment I have ever had, either from an MD or any other health professional, and we got to work with a variety of strengthening and stretching exercises and then the dreaded GRASTON and ART therapies.

For this injury, I saw Dr. Mayes about twice a week for a few weeks, and sure enough, the hands-on therapies and the strengthening/stretching routines he prescribed kicked the injury to the curb.

How have you benefitted from PT?

I had always thought that PT was reserved for folks with very serious injuries or those recovering from surgery; I never considered it as something I could (or should) incorporate into my routine.

Ever since my hip injury, which required about a month of regular PT, I've used Iron PT when different areas flare up. I've learned to feel the difference between something I can work out for myself (with a foam roller, stretching, icing, and/or resting) and when I need something a bit more hands on. Dr. Mayes has helped me combat some stubborn tendonitis, IT Band issues, and most recently some bursitis in my knee, and I think he's been instrumental in my being able to train consistently.

When you're forced to take a break from your sport and training, there's a huge physical and mental void to fill. Rest can be hard, but being diligent with my PT helped me because it gave me goals and made that forced rest feel more productive.

What would you say to someone who has the same injury?

I am very vocal about including PT as part of recovery from any injury. Our body parts were meant to move, and PT helps them move better and correctly. I think PT is also a necessary tool when healthy. I continue to see Dr. Mayes when I am unable to work through a niggle satisfactorily--and I feel as though this has been so instrumental in keeping injuries at bay.

What are you most excited about getting back to? Running is my poison, and I had two goals for this year, a sub 2:00 half marathon and to remain injury-free. As the year finishes up, I'm happy to report that I've come really really close to both: I ran a 2:03 half marathon and have only missed about a week's worth of training runs with my most recent set-back (knee bursitis).

I think for the future, I'm going to step away from time goals and focus more on experiences. I'm involved with a group of relay runners, and I expect to take 2-3 trips with them in 2015. This doesn't mean I'm going to slack off in my training, though. This group is extremely speedy, and I really want to pull my own weight.