Is CrossFit (TM) Causing Shoulder Injuries?

By djpope

March 25, 2019

CrossFit can get a bad name for causing injuries. As stated in previous posts, CrossFit actually doesn’t cause any more injury then other forms of recreational exercise. I’m not against CrossFit in any way, quite the contrary. I’ve coached CrossFit for 5 years, competed for around 7 years and these athletes make up a huge chunk of my regular business as a physical therapist.

Another common sentiment is that CrossFit causes a lot of shoulder injuries specifically. Previous survey research has shown that shoulder injuries are generally the most commonly injured area in those participating in CrossFit.

What this study did was follow 187 CrossFit participants over 6 months. 44 (23%) of those participants underwent a shoulder injury during this time period. The injury rate was 1.94 injuries per 1,000 hours of training. The majority (64%) of participants were back to training full time within 4 weeks.

An injury was defined as any new musculoskeletal pain that resulted from a CrossFit workout and led to either total removal from CrossFit training and other outside routine physical activities for more than 1 week; modification of normal training activities in duration, intensity, or mode for more than 2 weeks; and any physical complaint severe enough to warrant a visit to a health professional.

I do think it’s important to note that although injury risk was low (1.94/1000 hours) the majority of injuries came from the shoulder. Prior survey research shows somewhere between 2.4 and 3.1 injuries per 1,000 hours of training for the ENTIRE body. Despite the conclusions from the authors of this study, shoulder injuries do seem to be more prevalent in Crossfit then other forms of exercises that the authors compared CrossFit against (running, triathlon).

Crossfit does however seem to have a similar injury profile to sports like gymnastics and weightlifting, which unsurprisingly, make up a good chunk of the movements seen in CrossFit. Therefore, although the risk of injury from CrossFit is not high in comparison to other forms of fitness, the shoulder does seem to be a major area that gets hurt when injuries happen.

What are your thoughts? CrossFit is tough on the shoulders? Don’t see the same thing in your experience? Respond in the comments section below.

I’ve got my fitness all crossed up,