How to Avoid CrossFit Injury: Tips from Your Average Judy

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by HEIDI RIDER|USAF spouse, RN, coach at WP CrossFit, and the creative mind behind J is For Judy.

How to Avoid CrossFit Injury: Tips from Your Average Judy

I’d wager many CrossFit enthusiasts already do these things but aren’t receiving the accolades they deserve for representing our injury-free masses.
I’m not an exercise physiologist, physical therapist, or elite-level CrossFit competitor. Few of us have all these traits. I’m a wound care certified nurse with a background in physiology, a former collegiate soccer player, and a CrossFit trainer. What I am that I value most at this moment of my life, is an uninjured athlete.

Two years of dedication to a CrossFit fitness regime, and somehow my body is still performing without strains, tears, accidents, OR surgeries.

How is that possible?

If you’ve heard of CrossFit’s fitness model, you’ve also heard the press on injuries related to our training. It’s argued that what we do is too heavy, too fast, has too many repetitions, and is certainly too technical for the “Average Joe” to safely perform. I’d like to share with you what this “Average Judy” has done to stay out of the pool of CrossFit injuries… and it’s incredibly simple. I’d wager many CrossFit enthusiasts already do these things but aren’t receiving the accolades they deserve for representing our injury-free masses.

This advice has allowed me to stay injury-free and continue seeing regular gains.

5 Tips for Avoiding CrossFit Injury

Begin CrossFit in a comprehensive fundamentals program.

Begin CrossFit in a comprehensive fundamentals program.
In the Continental United States alone, there are no less than 5,915 CrossFit “boxes,” or gyms. It’s critical to find one that not only offers a fundamentals course but also provides you with experienced coaching. All the basic movements need to be covered, and the athlete must be required to show safety in each before graduating to the regular classes. There will always be exceptions — athletes with backgrounds in Olympic lifting, power lifting, kettlebell technique, and gymnastics, to name just a few. Even with these skilled athletes, odds are good they’ve never performed all the movements in one workout. Learning to combine these activities in a fast-paced environment while trying to remember correct form AND count your reps requires practice. There’s no better place to start than at the beginning. My personal favorite beginner’s CrossFit course? Shout out to CrossFit 702 in Las Vegas, NV. You do it right.

Intensity, not INSANITY, in a WOD.

As an athlete, know when to say when. When you have to, scale the weight or substitute the movement in a workout.
I have a love-hate relationship with allowing prescribed (Rx) weight and movements in our CrossFit WODs. I like the concept of athletes knowing it’s possible to reach them as working weights/skills one day as well as understanding the realistic need to scale for an intense and effective workout. In fact, I scale daily. Not every athlete thinks this way. Some go straight for the Rx weight or movement, disregarding body capabilities and coaching advice. Yet another place injuries are born. As coaches we know you signed the waiver, but we are responsible for your safety and we need to be sure you can move weight correctly over the course of an entire workout, or have the baseline strength to do those 100 pull-ups to proper standards, unassisted, so that you don’t strain or tear your labrum. As an athlete, know when to say when. When you have to, scale the weight or substitute the movement in a workout.

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