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Is CrossFit, A Popular Extreme Workout, Dangerous? A Discussion By A Sports Injury Lawyer In Pennsylvania And New Jersey

Last fall, there was a lot of media attention about CrossFit, a popular extreme workout program on the market.  In late September of 2013, Eric Robertson, an assistant professor of physical therapy at Regis University in Denver, wrote an article titled, “CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret.”  The article discussed the potential risks of CrossFit and how it can cause rhabdomyolysis or rhabdo, a rare, but potentially fatal condition.  Robertson said that although it is rare, rhabdo commonly happens to participants of CrossFit.  Rhabdo is even featured as a clown in CrossFit cartoons.

Rhabdomyolysis can be caused by severe exertion and causes damage to skeletal muscles.  As a result, proteins are rapidly released into the blood stream which can be harmful to kidneys and lead to kidney failure. 

After Robertson’s article was published, Good Morning America reported on Robertson’s article and the potential dangers of CrossFit and rhabdomyolysis.  In the featured story on Good Morning America, a CrossFit participant was interviewed, and she said rhabdo happened to her.  She didn’t have any warning signs that she was suffering from rhabdo during the workout.  However, a few days later, she began to have swelling from her elbows to her shoulders and went to the emergency room.  *Source: http://abcnews.go.com

This month, CrossFit is drawing more attention after one of its trainers was seriously injured in an accident during a CrossFit throw down competition.  One of the events required athletes to perform Olympic lifts. The trainer was lifting a bar overhead when he lost control of it.  The bar fell on him and severed his spinal cord; he is now paralyzed below his waist. *Source: www.huffingtonpost.com (CrossFit, Back Pain, and Severed Spine Injury)

There has been a lot of discussion about this recent accident.  Some say it was a freak accident, but others say that the program was poorly designed and led to the accident.  The trainer injured himself when he was performing a 3 rep snatch with an Olympic bar.  The drill required him to lift the bar up 3 times with no rest in between each set.  Many people say that with no rest between sets, an accident was bound to happen.  Even Olympic lifters rest between each set.

So is CrossFit dangerous or beneficial?  Extreme workouts like CrossFit that incorporate military style training can be beneficial, but they also can be dangerous if the participants are not properly supervised and do not know how to perform each exercise, especially for beginners.  Before starting any type of exercise program, the trainer should talk to the participant and assess his/her ability to perform the exercises.  It is the trainer’s duty to make sure that the participants are well-informed and to supervise the participants while they are engaging in the extreme style drills.

As for the exercise itself, perhaps some of the drills need to be evaluated and revamped, like the 3 rep snatch.  Not resting between sets when lifting an Olympic bar is just asking for an accident to happen. 

Sometimes, athletes and participants are told to push through the pain.  Most athletes have heard someone say at some point, “no pain, no gain.” That is probably the worst approach to exercise if one wants to avoid sustaining a sports injury.  If you feel the burn and your muscles do not allow you to continue anymore, stop. 

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Help After A Sports Injury Due To Someone Else’s Negligence

We have helped many athletes recover financial compensation after suffering a sports injury due to someone’s negligence, i.e., a coach, a trainer or the gym itself.  Some trainers and coaches are not qualified to train people or have a negligent training style, and as a result, cause athletes to sustain injuries. If you sustained a sports injury and believe it was due to someone’s negligence, feel free to call Dan O’Brien, a life-long athlete and sports injury lawyer in PA and NJ, who has helped numerous injured athletes with their sports injury cases.  Dan ALWAYS offers a free consultation. 877.944.8396.


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