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Crossfit: What To Know Before You Start

CrossFit has become more and more popular in the last few years. Its appeal is probably partly because the exercises are constantly changing, which helps prevent boredom. It can also be tailored to the individual user, from beginner to premier professional athlete. Finally, there is s strong sense of community among CrossFit practitioners. If you’re considering CrossFit, here are some things you should know, courtesy of the Orthopedic Research Center of Alaska (ORCA) in Anchorage.

In or Out of The Box

CrossFit gyms are commonly called “boxes.” You have the option to join a local gym or to learn the moves and routines from something like the CrossFit website. If you’re a complete beginner to exercise, you might want to go the box route, as you can get individualized training and have the benefit of the community to help support you when you hit a rough patch. For those who have lots of self-motivation, athletic experience and access to equipment, the website will probably give you what you need.

Move Slow

CrossFit has the potential to be very intense and while the community is good for support, it can also introduce an element of competition. If you have multiple options, try several before you settle on one particular box. Each box offers a different culture and coaching style, while the physical layout and available equipment may also differ. While you’re looking, start with some basic conditioning – make sure you challenge yourself but don’t overdo, as you risk injury.

Variety is the Spice of CrossFit

Workout routines and exercises are highly customizable. Although you need to spend some time learning the basics (and learning them correctly, to get maximum benefit and help prevent injury), once those are under your belt, you can branch out. Exercises are scalable – change the weights, change the reps or adjust the routine. CrossFit also covers all the basics of an exercise program: aerobics, strength-training, flexibility and balance.

Injuries Do Happen

No matter how careful you are, there’s always a potential for injury. A study of 486 CrossFit participants found that the average injury rate was 20 percent; men were injured about twice as frequently as women. Shoulder, low back, and knee injuries were the most common in this study. A good trainer can help decrease the rate of injuries. Overuse injuries are common with repetitive motion activities like many CrossFit exercises, while shoulder injuries tend to occur in gymnastic exercises and low back injuries are more likely with heavy lifting.

CrossFit is a great way to get in shape and stay fit. If you do develop an injury, however, please call or come see us at ORCA. We can easily handle common injuries like ligament and tendon strains and overuse injuries. Even better, see us before you start CrossFit. We can assess your level of fitness, identify problems like muscle imbalances and analyze your gait for patterns that may increase the risk of an injury. We’re the Anchorage orthopedics experts.


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