CrossFit, a sport and fitness program, has become increasingly popular both nationally and internationally. Researchers have recently identified significant improvements in health and wellness due to CrossFit. However, some individuals assert that CrossFit poses an inherent risk of injury, specifically to the shoulder, due to the intensity of training. Currently, there is limited evidence to support this assertion. Exercises performed during CrossFit do not place the shoulder at greater risk for injury. Injury rates are comparable to other sports of similar intensity. An electronic survey was developed and dispersed to approximately 980 individuals who trained in CrossFit gyms. The survey identified demographic data, training characteristics, and the prevalence of injury over a 6-month period in individuals who participated in CrossFit training. A total of 187 (19.1%) individuals completed the survey. Forty-four (23.5%) indicated that they had experienced a shoulder injury during CrossFit training over the previous 6 months. Of those who reported injury, 17 (38.6%) stated that this injury was an exacerbation of a previous injury sustained prior to starting CrossFit. There was no significant relationship between several demographic and training variables and shoulder injury. All shoulder injuries occurred at a rate of 1.94 per 1000 hours training, while “new” shoulder injuries occurred at a rate of 1.18 per 1000 hours training. The most commonly attributed causes of injury were improper form (33.3%) and exacerbation of a previous injury (33.3%). Twenty-five (64.1%) of those who experienced injury reported 1 month or less of training reduction due to the injury.
Shoulder injury rates during CrossFit training are comparable to other methods of recreational exercise. Clinicians should be aware of training demands of exercises in CrossFit and modifications for these exercises to safely progress their patients back to participation.