Benefits of Crossfit

What is Crossfit?

Crossfit, in its origins, is a type of exercise regimen created by Greg Glassman. There are workouts of the day designed to be constantly varied, functional movements, and performed at a high-intensity level. Although Crossfit is a training brand, it is not a franchised set of gyms such as Orange Theory. It is the style of exercise that makes a gym a Crossfit training facility.

A typical Crossfit session has four components: 

  • a warm-up,
  • strength or skill,
  • workout of the day (WOD)
  • a mobility type cool down

Two females squatting with a bench press on their backs.Women squatting with bench press.

Due to Crossfit's ability to mix and match exercises into a workout plan, most participants will rarely complete the same workout multiple times. However, a few classic Crossfit “benchmark” workouts of the day are typically named after women or in honor of fallen servicemen. These WOD’s are good at measuring your progress. You can see if you can complete the same workout with increased weight, reps, or better time.  It is still important to stretch in the warm-up of any activity. 

What are Crossfit Games?

Athletes will compete in varied Crossfit workouts over five days to determine the “Fittest on Earth.” Before the official Crossfit Games, there are open tournaments worldwide. This is when people will compete to increase their rank in the compared to others. At the competition begins, athletes earn points for completing specific exercises in either the quickest time frame, lifting the most weight, or completing the most reps.  

What are Common Crossfit Injuries?

Crossfit has gotten a bad reputation over the years for being dangerous and causing injuries in its participants. Injuries can occur with any exercise regimen. Exercises should be challenging to meet a person’s fitness goals. However, they need to be modified to a level appropriate for the person’s ability or fitness level. In addition, to too much weight or repetitions and poor form can increase a person’s risk for injury with higher-level exercises. 

As a person fatigues, especially with total body lifts/movement, they will utilize other muscles to compensate and complete the activity. This can put increased stress or strain on a particular body part, causing injury. Another source of injury could come from overuse. This can be due to not allowing for appropriate rest times for muscle recovery. It is not recommended to perform any other exercise program seven days a week. With a knowledgeable trainer/coach, Crossfit workouts can be safe and beneficial for a person at any level of fitness training.

If an injury occurs, it is very important to do the RICE Protocol. 

Choosing Crossfit

With the increasing popularity of CrossFit, I have seen an influx of patients in my office with CrossFit related injuries. CrossFit is a style of working out that combines functional based movements, gymnastics, high intensity training, and Olympic weight lifting. As an avid CrossFitter myself, I think the functional movement based sport has a lot to offer many ranging from weekend warriors, the elderly, to also professional athletes. The design is to offer universal scalability regardless of experience.

Crossfit Errors

However, when you combine poor quality coaching, bad form, and lack of motion or mobility to complete a movement, you are ultimately asking for an injury. There are definitely a lot of movements in CrossFit that can be classified as dangerous. (Although that can be said for most sports) A better injury prevention approach is to ask your gym or coach these questions:


How experienced is your coach? Did they simply go to a weekend seminar and then call themselves a coach? Do they have a kinesiology or anatomy background? Many Olympic lifting techniques are highly complicated and take years to master the skill…. forget coaching it. A high quality coach needs more than a weekend course to be instructing CrossFit and any type of Olympic weight lifting technique and also should have solid kinesiology background.


Ask yourself, “Do I have the mobility to perform the task at hand"? If your shoulder range of motion is so horrible and your pecs are so tight that you are unable to fully extend your arms overhead---you have no business attempting a snatch, overhead squat, push-press, thruster, or even a simple pull-up. YOU need to focus on mobility and range of motion ONLY before attempting anything overhead. This applies to any joint in the body. More importantly, if you have a good coach they will easily recognize your deficits and prohibit you from doing that specific movement until ready.

Does your gym include a mobility aspect to the workouts or workout of the day (WOD)? Mobility is vital these days to see optimum results both in and out of the gym. A well-educated coach will program the workout with a relevant piece of mobility to coincide with that workout. A simple example would be: a coach advising you to do a soft tissue release to your pec major using a lacrosse ball prior to completing a workout that includes a lot of pull-ups. This will ensure you have full range of motion and good mechanics prior to completion of the exercise.

Intro Classes

  1. Does your CrossFit gym have an introductory class? A properly programmed gym will take you through a month long course of fundamentals to teach you the basic technique for all CrossFit movements. If you start at a gym that just throws your right into a WOD with the regular class, RUN far  away!
  2. Lastly, with all CrossFit movements it is not normal to have pain. If you have pain, do not push through it. (Although your coach may ask you to!) And if your coach is knowledgeable, they will know how to properly scale the movements. An example would be substituting ring rows instead of pull-ups. If you still have pain even with a scaled movement, I would recommend seeing a professional right away. If you continually push through, you are likely creating micro-trauma that can eventually lead to some type of tear.

In the end, CrossFit can be an innovative way to stay fit and strong. Also, it can help you perform well in and out of the gym. However, please choose your gym and coach wisely.

Does Crossfit Make You Bulky?

Many women are worried about becoming “bulky” and steer away from lifting heavier weights. Another cause misconception with Crossfit is that the athletes who compete in the “Crossfit Games” on television are typically very muscular. However, Crossfit, as with most workout regimens, will not make a person bulky alone. Muscle mass is gained through intense weight lifting combined with a proper diet. The diet must allow for excess calories/nutrients to be utilized to form muscle. Crossfit programs can be altered to target most physique goals.

By: Alex Bigale, PTA

Physical Therapy for Crossfit Injuries

Physical therapy equipment can help with strengthen muscles due to Crossfit injuryJacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Physical Therapy Center

  Our website medical library has several articles on all of the injuries listed below.  Please go to JOI Library or JOI Trending.  Related articles: Bench Press Proper Form and the Proper  Squat Technique.

To schedule an appointment for physical therapy for a Crossfit injury at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045.  We are so proud to welcome to welcome Jennifer Dieter to JOI Rehab.  Jen is a physical therapist and competes in National Crossfit Competitions. 

Do you have a Crossfit injury that is keeping you from your workout routine? Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute has 12 physical therapy locations throughout Northeast Florida. To find a location near you visit, click below, or call904-JOI-2000.

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