High-intensity workouts that vary day-to-day challenge CrossFit athletes as they train against a running clock.
Power cleans, one-legged squats, pull-ups, rope climbs and handstand walks are just a few exercises that can be found in various CrossFit workouts of the day (WODs). These workouts combine aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running and rowing, among other activities.
Taking precautions can put CrossFitters in a better position to avoid strains, sprains, tears and other serious injuries. Here’s how:
Find the right place and instructor
Finding a reputable CrossFit gym, or “box,” with well-trained instructors is the first step to preventing injuries. In fact, when selecting a CrossFit box, it’s just as important to check out the experience and skill levels of the trainers as it is to look at the facility and equipment.
CrossFit certifies its trainers, beginning with a “level one” certificate course. Certified CrossFit trainers and coaches can monitor and assess an athlete’s progress. They will scale weights or movements based on the athlete’s specific needs and goals. They can also train athletes to work out safely by taking previous injuries and other issues into account. Find a box where safety and education of the staff and members are clearly high priorities.
Pay Attention to Form
Lifting weights, squatting, lunging and other CrossFit workouts are most effective and safe with the correct form. This is especially important in a program where high intensity is the goal.
Don’t let pride get in the way of asking a trainer for tips on how to improve technique. Taking time to check form with a trainer ensures your muscles, joints and other musculoskeletal components are in the ideal position for taking on an added load and performing specific movements. This is vital not only to improve fitness outcomes but also critically important to avoid pitfalls that lead to strain injuries.
Don’t sacrifice form for reps. Even seasoned athletes will lose form as they fatigue. When you recognize you are losing form, you can make a better decision as to whether it is safe to push out another rep or to stop and live for the next workout of the day.
Warm up and stretch out
This is common advice for any physical exercise, but unfortunately, it’s a step plenty of athletes overlook. Others may think they’re warming up properly, but they’re not warming up long enough, or they’re warming up the wrong muscle groups.
Without a proper warmup, your body isn’t prepared for the increased load and strain that’s about to be placed on it. Muscle fibers are cold and inflexible, and circulation hasn’t been ramped up to help your body get rid of toxins released during exercise. And that means you’re much more likely to become injured.
Stretching, running in place or performing low-impact aerobic activity before starting a routine can help get your muscles and circulatory system up to speed so your body performs better and can help avoid injuries.
With intense training comes the risk of injury no matter what sport or workout an athlete participates in, but by being mindful of these three tips, you will be put yourself in the best position to stay healthy and keep active with CrossFit and beyond