Is CrossFit dangerous? Word to the physiatrist

Is CrossFit dangerous? Word to the physiatrist

CrossFit is a US sport discipline based on a high intensity training system divided into sessions - called Wod (workout of the day) - ranging from 5 to 30 minutes.

Boat ropes, tires, walls, obstacles, medicine balls, trapezes, dumbbells, and kettlebells: these are the tools of an increasingly popular discipline that creates a program of functional exercises aimed at complete physical well-being.


It is important to know that CrossFit’s variable intensity peaks make this sport not suitable for everyone.


What are the basic premises for anyone wishing to undertake a path of physical activity?


The basic premise is that each workout should be set according to the level of the participants. In this case, CrossFit falls within the family of functional activities so the diversification of the work it requires can be counterproductive to the economy of movement, being such an intense activity, despite improving all athletic skills.


How do you understand if this discipline is suitable for your peculiarities?


My advice is to always carry out a specialist physiatrist evaluation before practicing it, to avoid problems later on. A healthy person with an excellent athletic base can practice it.


Pros and cons of CrossFit: how can we tell them apart?


The pros mainly concern CrossFit’s ability to bring together exercises from different sports fields, reworked in such a way as to involve all the muscles (according to the principles of functional training). It improves cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance, strength, elasticity, power, dexterity, balance, reaction times and coordination. As each work session is different, complete and of great emotional impact, the moment becomes unique and able to stimulate not only the body but also the mind, thus always providing new stimuli.



On the other hand, CrossFit like any high-intensity physical activity, is not suitable for everyone and is definitely not recommended for those suffering from chronic diseases such as osteon-articular problems and herniated discs or cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, arrhythmia, diabetes, angina, heart attack. The anticipated intensity in a session can lead to nausea, which can also occur in other high-intensity disciplines. This unpleasant contraindication can be a symptom of poor management of the modulation between external load and internal load, therefore of the balance between, for example, the lifting of an implement (external load) and the resistance we oppose (internal load). The other critical point, on the other hand, concerns the “rest day, that is a too high frequency of training which eludes the need to modulate the programming, alternating high intensity days and days of unloading. The consequence is a progressive decrease in the basal concentrations of Testosterone and IGF-1 and, conversely, an increase in cortisol levels which inhibit the production of some thyroid hormones.


In addition to the functional training you have already mentioned, we often talk about strength training. What is the difference?


In isotonic exercise the muscles are strengthened by developing a variable tension in overcoming constant resistance. It is divided into two phases: a concentric (or positive) when that is the musculature is shortened and an eccentric (or negative) when the musculature resists the workload during the stretch.


The 'functional training' training, on the other hand, is based on the execution of exercises that mimic the movements that the body performs daily aimed at developing a harmonious and strong physique. The movements must progressively become more complex, to constantly stimulate the organism and prevent adaptation to the work performed.



Risks of CrossFit

The risks of CrossFit for a healthy person are mainly limited to muscle, tendon or joint injuries, especially of the shoulder, back, hip and knee. Cases of COPD exacerbation or adverse events of a cardiovascular or cerebral nature are statistically rarer.


To reduce these dangers, a competitive sports medical examination should first be carried out. Otherwise, you are potentially at risk of:


Cardio circulatory impairments

  • Dyspnea
  • Worsening of spine disorders
  • Inadequate bone healing
  • Aggravation of joint disorders
  • Worsening of underweight etc.




Clothing and Accessories

We dress and accessories useful for CrossFit

CrossFit is practiced mainly indoors, in equipped gyms or boxes; secondly, the sessions can be integrated with outdoor workouts - for example in calisthenics parks, or simply by running or practicing cycling, rowing etc. Note: Mostly, aerobic disciplines are performed on fitness machines such as treadmills, exercise bikes, climb machines, rowing machines, and arm or excite ergometers, elliptical machines, etc.


Clothing and accessories are therefore specific to the training to be followed. It goes without saying that when you have to ride a bike, or to jump rope, or to swim, the clothing and accessories will be highly specific. On the contrary, for most of the sessions that take place indoors, soft, elastic garments are essential, which allow perspiration and the evaporation of sweat; cotton and mixed microfiber or technical fabrics are recommended, preferably short (shorts, tank tops and short-sleeved t-shirts). Note: the choice of one or the other clothing is, however, often marginal, as cross fitters particularly like to train shirtless.


The choice of footwear, on the other hand, can be quite complex and depends a lot on the type of session. Having to choose, many prefer to prioritize the needs of the most delicate exercises, such as the Olympic lifts. Note : even in this case, the choice of footwear is often superfluous; in fact there are many cross fitters who, riding on the fashion of the moment, choose for example to lift barefoot, with shoes almost without soles or with high amphibian-type shoes, common among military corps.

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