Is Crossfit Bad for Your Shoulders?

Danh Ngo"Staying Active" Division, Exercise TipsLeave a Comment

Did you know that compared to traditional weightlifters, CrossFitters are 1.3 times more likely to experience an injury? Most Crossfit injuries occur at the joints and spine, however, sometimes more serious injuries can occur. 

In fact, serious health risks can incur due to excessive Crossfit work. Many of those injuries occur at the shoulder joint. So, is Crossfit bad for your shoulders? What are different ways you can protect your shoulders during exercise?

What Is Crossfit?

Crossfit workouts are a combination of different exercises that encompass a full-body workout. Crossfit uses techniques such as strength training and plyometrics in combination with explosive movements. The goal is to improve not only your strength and mobility but your cardiovascular health as well. 

What are some of the exercises you participate in at gyms and the Crossfit Games? Movements such as power cleans, thruster, and the snatch are all fairly common movements. Many of these movements are considered Olympic lifts.  

The high intensity of Crossfit allows participants to finish workouts in a shorter period of time and use multiple muscle groups. Some Crossfit workouts will take only 15 minutes to complete, which is much better than that one-hour run you were going to go for. 

What Is the Risk of Crossfit?

Crossfit is extremely intense and can be hard on the body. The explosive movements with added barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells can add to the risk of injury.

The most dangerous risk of participating in Crossfit is rhabdomyolysis. This is caused by excessive exercise that causes the muscles to break down to the point of a life-threatening condition. Symptoms such as dark-colored urine and extreme muscle soreness in a group of muscles are signs of rhabdomyolysis. 

However, most Crossfit injuries are less serious. In fact, recent research has found that shoulder injuries incorporate approximately 25% of all Crossfit injuries.

This isn’t in your lifetime of Crossfit participation either. The risk of shoulder injuries is likely to occur approximately every six months unless you address ways to protect your joints from further damage.  

What Causes Shoulder Injuries?

You’re probably wondering why Crossfit has a high risk of shoulder injuries. Most people starting Crossfit aren’t in optimal physical shape to handle the high-intensity workouts that Crossfit offers. Often, people tend to explore Crossfit gyms near them and the instructors have not spent an excessive amount of time and training to handle injury prevention.

Many overhead movements put you at risk of having a shoulder injury. This includes overhead presses and Olympic lifts. This places a significant amount of weight from the barbell directly over your head, causing various shoulder risks. 

Types of Shoulder Injuries

Are you wondering what part of your shoulder is most at risk when participating in overhead exercises? 

Shoulder impingement is one of the most common injuries that occur with Crossfit. Impingement occurs when the tendon that runs on the top of your shoulder gets pinched by the bone. It can also involve the bursa, which is a small, fluid-filled sac that helps provide cushion and eliminate excessive friction on your joints. 

Your rotator cuff helps to stabilize your shoulder. It can also be injured during exercise, especially if you are using improper form. This can lead to a full rotator cuff tear or tendonitis. 

You’ve probably heard of tendonitis and how nagging it can be. It’s best if you take the extra steps to prevent further injury.

Prevention Is Key

So, you’ve heard all about the risks that Crossfit can have. You’re probably wondering, what now? What can you do to prevent or treat shoulder injuries?

It’s important to remember that your body functions as a whole. When one thing gets thrown off, then you can have multiple other problems. You should be mindful of not only your body but also your mind.

It’s important that you pay attention to the foods you are eating, how you feel, and the quality of your sleep.  

There are some simple exercises you can do to help strengthen, support, and prevent further shoulder injuries. You should start with simple, low-weight exercises. This can even include body weight or no weight at all, depending on the severity of the injury. 

Perform simple exercises recommended by a certified orthopedic specialist or physical therapist to ensure you are performing the exercise correctly. These include movements that target strengthening your rotator cuff and back muscles. These exercises will also include your biceps, triceps, and chest muscles as they attach to your shoulder and can contribute to the problem. 

Make sure that you are warming up before you exercise and slowly increase your weight. A proper cool down is always beneficial to prevent injuries. 

Is Crossfit Bad?

This is probably the question you’re asking yourself. The answer is: it depends. If you are improperly lifting, not receiving guided expertise, and pushing through injuries, then, yes.

If you take the time to understand your body and your limits, as well as look into a trainer at a Crossfit gym near you, then Crossfit can be a great way to improve activity. 

You should also check with your doctor to make sure that you are healthy enough to participate in this vigorous form of exercise and to review any injury prevention techniques discussed above. 

What’s Next?

You could be one of those people who has been actively prepping for the Crossfit Games 2021, or you’re just casually going to the nearest Crossfit gym whenever you have time off of work. You’ve begun to notice some shoulder pain when you reach your arm overhead and you can hardly lift anything at the gym. What next?

Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have to give up your Crossfit goals. Visit a trusted and reliable source to handle all your shoulder injuries. You want to make sure that you are in professional and capable hands to get you back to living your life to the fullest.

If you live in the Long Beach neighborhood and need an expert in everything Crossfit and Sports Medicine, click on the button below.

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