The other day I was reading the CFES blog and noticed someone posted a blog post from another site called “CrossFit™ : A 100% Chance of Injury?” The author is a young man named Anthony Johnson. I don’t know him, nor had never visited his blog before. Here is what he has to say:
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately that crossfit™ might actually have a 100% chance of injury when practiced over a lifetime.”
First, let me say I think he is correct: all CrossFit activity will eventually result in an injury. Crossfit is dangerous. Once you introduce a time domain in a competitive atmosphere you’re in the danger zone. Just like any other sport. I should also say as an aside there is a subtle nuance to the phrase “competitive atmosphere” — at CFES it’s more about achieving individual peak performance, and everybody respects and supports everybody else’s achievements. I’ve written about this before (“Crossfit and the Nature of competition: a Few Notes and Comments“.) When your goal is get beyond your current limitations there are bound to be risks.
In any case Johnson’s main point was that the ideal of peak performance is OK, but risk has to be managed. He thinks CrossFit is too dangerous. Johnson doesn’t think CrossFit is safe under an circumstances, doesn’t like barbell squats, doesn’t think CrossFit gyms are competently run, and finds the practice of CrossFit to be irrational and stupid.
“Well first you need to fully grasp that it is fundamentally unsafe, and if practiced as an exercise program, will result in an unknown injury, perhaps multiple times over, perhaps permanent, and perhaps 10 years after you quit CrossFit™.”
“…Secondly, you need to realize that fundamentally, CrossFit™ is not (actually) exercise in the first place. It’s a hybrid between a recreational and competitive activity with a random array of exercise side effects. Furthermore, many of these (random if not arbitrary) physical movements, fit quite well into the public conception of the concept of exercise.”
As it so happens I have several friends who were cyclists, runners, basketball players, skiers etc. who have sustained broken collarbones, hips, wrists, legs, concussions, injured backs and necks. But I agree the best course is to manage risks. That requires discipline, patience, forbearance, and a certain amount of humility.
My understanding, from reading various comments and discussions about the history of CrossFit is that it was designed for people in disaster response professions: policemen, firemen, paramedics, SWAT teams, soldiers or other para-military professions.
At the heart of Crossfit is one huge demand: intensity with a time constraint. It is meant to be brutal and demanding. Yes you can and should scale it — but you don’t reduce the intensity. That alone should be a warning about the nature of CrossFit.
I suspect Johnson would say I’ve missed the point, which is that there are ways to achieve the same results without the risks that CrossFit poses. Well I’ll keep an open mind.
In the meantime I admit I like the challenge, the fear, the adrenaline rush. I like the “random and arbitrary” nature of the workouts. I like beating the odds just one more time.