I Got Injured … but Not Through CrossFit

Using your fitness comes with some risk. But it’s not always what you think it is.
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In the past five-plus years since I started doing CrossFit, I have been injured from time to time. Over that portion of my life, a majority of those injuries can be stripped down to one common factor: me doing stupid shit.

The latest examples are embarrassing, but I’ll share them for the point of this article.

This past week, I was bringing up a load of laundry and turned too quickly, catching my left hip on edge of the handrail to our stairs. The pain was so bad that it actually took my breath away. I have a lovely bruise and a slight limp that lasted a couple of days from that one.

The second injury happened when I came home from coaching and was getting ready to mow my yard. It has rained in the Midwest (about four days a week) most of the summer, so I had some wet grass that was rotting under the mower. I grabbed the handle of the mower and pulled it up so that I could flip it over and scrape out the dead grass. As I reached and pulled, I felt pain from my shoulder all the way down my arm and I knew something was wrong. I strained the tendons in the front of my shoulder and had to miss three days of CrossFit training while it healed.

This is not an article about how you can never get hurt doing CrossFit or at a CrossFit affiliate. I’m sure people out there can find a way. But the argument is if you do CrossFit movements correctly, with a manageable load and rep scheme, properly coached and under control, your risk of injury should be very minimal.

I completely agree with that.

If I look at the number of times I have hurt myself since 2010, the finger can definitely be pointed right at me. Broken bone in my foot? I swung off of a pull-up bar during a competition and jumped to a landing instead of just dropping straight down. Partially torn calf? I put on a pair of minimal shoes and immediately started running miles and miles in them and doing box jumps and double-unders without taking any time for my feet, ankles and calves to get used to them.

Aside from those examples, I almost broke my leg playing in a men’s league soccer match. I badly injured my lower back by landing wrong when I stepped down from a set of stairs. There have been a whole host of other weird things that have injured me over the years since I started CrossFit but not while doing CrossFit.

This is not an article stating that if you do CrossFit, you will never get hurt. I’m not going to make that proclamation. But what I will say is that if I examine the times I have been hurt since I began doing CrossFit, the factor was largely because I did stupid things.

You shouldn’t live your life in a bubble, and you should never use your fitness or go outside your comfort zone. I’ll never forget watching a Day in the Life of Rich Froning video and seeing him playing full-contact roller hockey. This was the champ, banging into walls at full speed and taking pucks off his body while still training to win the CrossFit Games. The point he made in that video was, “I have all this fitness and I’m going to use it.” (Something to that effect, not an exact quote).

If you decide to use your fitness (which you should), there is a risk that you might get hurt. If you don’t listen to your coaches or follow bad programming, you might get hurt. If you step off the curb wrong, you might get hurt. But in the case of CrossFit training, I have found that when properly executed, doing this form of exercise has left me much less injured than most other training and activities I’ve done in my life.

Which reminds me … I have to mow today.

What is your experience with injuries? It happens to everyone. Was it bad programming? You trying to do too much? Bad luck? Who is the real culprit?

Stay on the Grind.