Clinical Scenario: CrossFit is a form of exercise that incorporates rapid and successive high-intensity ballistic movements. As CrossFit is an increasingly popular fitness option, it is important to determine how rates of injury compare to more traditional forms of exercise. This review was conducted to ascertain the incidence of injury with CrossFit relative to other forms of exercise. Focused Clinical Question: Are injuries more common with CrossFit training than other forms of exercise? Summary of Key Findings: (1) The literature was searched for studies that compared injury rates among individuals who participated in CrossFit fitness programs to participants in other exercise programs. (2) The search initially yielded >100 results, which were narrowed down to 3 level 2b retrospective cohort studies that were deemed to have met inclusion/exclusion criteria. (3) In all 3 reviewed studies, the reported incidences of injuries associated with CrossFit training programs were comparable or lower than rates of injury in Olympic weightlifting, distance running, track and field, rugby, or gymnastics. Clinical Bottom Line: Current evidence suggests that the injury risk from CrossFit training is comparable to Olympic weightlifting, distance running, track and field, rugby, football, ice hockey, soccer, or gymnastics. Injuries to the shoulder(s) appear to be somewhat common with CrossFit. However, the certitude of these conclusions is questionable given the lack of randomization, control, or uniform training in the reviewed studies. Clinicians should be aware that injury is more prevalent in cases where supervision is not always available to athletes. This is more often the case for male participants who may not actively seek supervision during CrossFit exercise. Strength of Recommendation: Level 2b evidence from 3 retrospective cohort studies indicates that the risk of injury from participation in CrossFit is comparable to or lower than some common forms of exercise or strength training.
Keywords: functional training; injury incidence; physical therapy.