Is CrossFit and High Intensity Exercise Safe?

Update: January, 2021 - This blog was originally written by Dr. Dustin in February 2017, before I came on staff at Gallatin Valley Chiropractic. This was a piece written to illustrate the ACTUAL risks of CrossFit, an exercise program that was growing in popularity then, and continues to grow. In my (Dr. David's) opinion, it did a great job of looking at the relative risk of CrossFit vs. other exercise methodologies, and dispelling some of the myths surrounding high intensity interval and strength training.

-- Dr. David Is an avid CrossFitter, who has trained with this methodology since 2013, and coached it as well, from 2014-2019. 


CrossFit and High Intensity Exercise

by Dr. Dustin Rising

While it has been this doctor's perception that people that take part in CrossFit and other high intensity training programs experience an elevated rate of injury; I have taken the time to see what research reports on the topic.

What was discovered?

-High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), such as CrossFit, provides equally effective health benefits as moderate intensity longer duration exercising in regarding cardiovascular health.
-The perceived exertion level for HIIT/CrossFit is "very hard"
-Crossfit can cause severe acute post-exercise muscle dysfunction
-The rate of extensional rhabdomyolysis (the rapid break down of muscle tissue, the opposite intent of working out) due to CrossFit workouts has an incidence rate of about 1/100.
- There is a correlation between CrossFit and cervical internal carotid artery dissection though the rates are very low.
-Shoulder injuries  and spinal injuries are common in CrossFit populations and are usually attributed to poor form, especially once fatigued.
-A study examining prevalence of injury from CrossFit found that about 74% sustain an injury from CrossFit. CrossFit injury rates are about 3 injuries per 1000 hours of training.
- While it seems that there are some risks, injury rates from CrossFit are the same as other HIIT activities like weight lifting and gymnastics and are lower than contact sports such as football or rugby.

What does all this mean from your doctor's perspective?

-Exercise is important for physical and mental health.
-CrossFit is, generally, no more dangerous than any other high intensity sport or activity.
-Attention and commitment to form and proper alignment, especially once tired, may help to prevent injury.
-Stretching, adequate hydration and a healthy diet along with regular exercise is an excellent path to wellness.
-Making the workout fun keeps people exercising; so, do CrossFit if you enjoy it and if not, find something else to keep you active.

Feel free to make an appointment if you injure yourself, whether while doing  CrossFit or in any other way your chiropractor should be your first stop for repair.

Gallatin Valley Chiropractic 406-551-2177



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