Injury Rate and Patterns Among CrossFit Athletes

Orthop J Sports Med. 2014 Apr 25;2(4):2325967114531177. doi: 10.1177/2325967114531177. eCollection 2014 Apr.


Background: CrossFit is a type of competitive exercise program that has gained widespread recognition. To date, there have been no studies that have formally examined injury rates among CrossFit participants or factors that may contribute to injury rates.

Purpose: To establish an injury rate among CrossFit participants and to identify trends and associations between injury rates and demographic categories, gym characteristics, and athletic abilities among CrossFit participants.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: A survey was conducted, based on validated epidemiologic injury surveillance methods, to identify patterns of injury among CrossFit participants. It was sent to CrossFit gyms in Rochester, New York; New York City, New York; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and made available via a posting on the main CrossFit website. Participants were encouraged to distribute it further, and as such, there were responses from a wide geographical location. Inclusion criteria included participating in CrossFit training at a CrossFit gym in the United States. Data were collected from October 2012 to February 2013. Data analysis was performed using Fisher exact tests and chi-square tests.

Results: A total of 486 CrossFit participants completed the survey, and 386 met the inclusion criteria. The overall injury rate was determined to be 19.4% (75/386). Males (53/231) were injured more frequently than females (21/150; P = .03). Across all exercises, injury rates were significantly different (P < .001), with shoulder (21/84), low back (12/84), and knee (11/84) being the most commonly injured overall. The shoulder was most commonly injured in gymnastic movements, and the low back was most commonly injured in power lifting movements. Most participants did not report prior injury (72/89; P < .001) or discomfort in the area (58/88; P < .001). Last, the injury rate was significantly decreased with trainer involvement (P = .028).

Conclusion: The injury rate in CrossFit was approximately 20%. Males were more likely to sustain an injury than females. The involvement of trainers in coaching participants on their form and guiding them through the workout correlates with a decreased injury rate. The shoulder and lower back were the most commonly injured in gymnastic and power lifting movements, respectively. Participants reported primarily acute and fairly mild injuries.

Keywords: CrossFit; Olympic lifting; competitive exercise; cross-sectional pilot study; injury rate; power lifting.