What is CrossFit?
The definition of fitness that Greg Glassman came up with is as accurate as it has ever been – ‘increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains.
CrossFit is: “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.”
It’s a core, strength and conditioning program.
CrossFit is not a specialised fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimise physical competence in 10 fitness domains.
These domains are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. (1)
Adrian Bozman explained it perfectly at the beginning of The Test of Fitness documentary (2):
“It’s the intersection of your basic ability to move other things, to move your body and do those things in combination.
It’s that overlapping of ability that exists when you have a weightlifter, a runner and a gymnast.
It’s that part in the middle that intersects and the bigger that part is, the more fit you are”.
How It’s Started
I discovered CrossFit in 2012 while I was training for a trail running race.
At the time I was following a classic running program.
If you’re familiar with this kind of training, you are constantly running (fast, slow, short, long).
Two coaches from the gym saw me doing regular gym stuff during my rest day.
They were already doing functional fitness movement and introduced me to CrossFit.
This was new! I didn’t understand much but it was fun and different. I realised early that I wasn’t as “fit” and “strong” as I imagined.
I couldn’t do an overhead squat properly. My weaknesses were exposed, I decided: “I need to get better at this”.
I also started to change my nutrition following the paleo diet. That was a game changer.
I was hooked. I finished my second trail running race and decided to go all in with this stuff.
“It’s Too Hard for Me!”
It’s easy to watch the CrossFit Games on YouTube and think: “Wow this is crazy, I won’t be able to do that!”
You are right, you are probably not able to do that…
The good news is CrossFit is for everyone. The primary goal of CrossFit is to prevent and fight chronic diseases. (3)
From the CrossFit methodology emerges the sport of CrossFit. However, it’s important to see the distinction.
For example, driving your kids to school and racing a formula one car is different. They are both “driving” but not with the same intensity.
If you join your local CrossFit affiliate, every movement will be adapted to your ability.
The needs for elderly and professional athletes vary by degree, not kind.
For example, an elderly lady may need to lift grocery bags, whilst an athlete may need optimal performance.
Another example is improving hip capacity as this will help a professional golfer to swing. It will also reduce the chances of an elderly person falling whilst on the bus. The squat is the perfect tool for both.
Is Physical Activity essential?
The body is meant to move. Lifting heavy things is good – we’re supposed to do that.
We’re supposed to do things fast, we’re supposed to do things slow.
We’re supposed to suffer a little bit whilst doing physical activity as this will improve our health and allow us to get better at other things. This is part of the process. This may be longevity for an elderly person or peak performance for an athlete. (4)
We know that training maintained throughout childhood and adolescence is likely to improve movement biomechanics. It will minimise the risk of sports-related injury and promote positive health outcomes during adulthood. (5)
“I Don’t Want to Get Injured Doing CrossFit!”
The injury incidence rate associated with CrossFit training is low, and comparable to other forms of recreational fitness activities. (6)
The injury rate for CrossFit has now been researched, so we can now investigate what type of injuries may be encountered in CrossFit.
Firstly, it’s very important to remember that injuries between Games athletes (elite athletes) and classic members of a CrossFit affiliate should not be compared.
The research showed that the injuries mostly affected knees, lumbar spine, shoulders and elbows. They were mainly caused by repetitive movements and musculo-tendinous disorders rather than traumatic injuries.
For example, many shoulder problems are due to an imbalance in the latissimus dorsi muscle (back muscle). If the latissimus dorsi does not do its job, the trapezius is likely to be overactive. This can result in poor posture, one shoulder appearing higher than the other and a lack of stabilisation for the shoulder. As I mentioned before, unlevel shoulders are often associated with muscle weaknesses, including the following muscles: latissimus dorsi, gluteus medius, trapezius, sacrospinalis.
A similarity can be seen between chiropractic and CrossFit, and that is the aim to restore function.
To explain this further, it is important to understand that sometimes it is not enough to just strengthen the specific ‘weak’ muscle (for example, the latissimus dorsi).
This is because when there is a functional or pathological change in one area of the body, a chain reaction is going to take place (from head to toe or vice versa).
Check out my article on Tensegrity on https://clearlychiropractic.co.uk/ if you want a deeper explanation.
This is why chiropractors are interested in the root cause of the problem rather than the symptoms.
If we don’t correct the root cause of the problem, the same wrong pattern will repeat in the future.
Movement quality is key.
The CrossFit pyramid is made up of mechanics, consistency and then intensity… in that order.
One pillar of CrossFit is nutrition as I mentioned in the second section.
An easy bit of advice is: “eat real food, mostly plants (grown from the ground or a tree) and not too much.”
I will write an article about it soon on https://clearlychiropractic.co.uk/. Stay tuned if you’re interested.
There are other aspects of your daily life (physical, emotional, chemical) that can impact the probability of getting injured.
The most fundamental thing to stay away from injuries is to have a preventive approach.
My last piece of advice to finish is to find a CrossFit affiliate (7). Keep healthy.
If you’re looking for a chiropractor in Eastbourne, or you’ve got any questions, then contact us either to book a consultation or for a free complimentary chat.
(1) CrossFit Level One http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_English_Level1_TrainingGuide.pdf
(2) The Test of Fitness – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eGgWEr-Vv8
(3) Chronic Disease: “We have the Answer” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQhwEnYdU6w
(4) Carl Paoli : CrossFit and respecting all movements – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F1-BY8R5Bc
(5) When to initiate integrative neuromuscular training to reduce sports-related injuries in youth? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3105332/
(6) Rates and risk factors of injury in CrossFitTM: a prospective cohort study
The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2017 September;57(9):1147-53 https://www.minervamedica.it/en/journals/sports-med-physical-fitness/article.php?cod=R40Y2017N09A1147
By Geoffrey Biarge
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