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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 01-29-2014, 02:00 PM   #1
Russell Greene
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On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

If you have eyes, you’ve noticed journalists and struggling trainers speculating about the dangers of CrossFit. If you have a brain, you’ve noticed the hysteria fails to meet basic logical standards. Meaningful claims about risk must meet at least the following three points, to start:

1. Evidence:

It is not enough to look at a workout program and assume it’s dangerous. One would hope this was obvious, but some American College of Sports Medicine fellows keep falling short. They have repeatedly published bad science on the basis of non-existent or misinterpreted evidence. Sources: http://journal.crossfit.com/2012/09/...sensus-pap.tpl and http://journal.crossfit.com/2013/05/acsm.tpl. And the bad science doesn’t end with papers about CrossFit. More on this, later.

Contrary to what Patrick Mccarty has claimed, it is possible to gather data on CrossFit, both online and in gyms. Data need not encompass the entire CrossFit community to count.

2. Time frame:

With a long enough time frame, the fatality rate for all activities is 100%. An injury rate without a time frame is meaningless.

A 74% injury rate over one workout is very different from a 74% rate over years of training.

Outside Magazine is a first-class source for bad reporting on fitness: http://www.outsideonline.com/news-fr...ers-Spine.html. They made this mistake recently:

“Studies have pegged the CrossFit injury rate from as low as 16 percent to as high as 74 percent.” (The 16 percent figure has never been substantiated, but the Outside reporter failed to seriously investigate that fact.)

Furthermore, the 16 percent figure comes from a 6-week study, whereas the 74 percent figure comes from a study where the average CrossFit experience was 18.6 months. In other words, the 74 percent figure came from a study with a time frame over 13 times as long as the other study. It’s not a fair comparison.

One way to address time is find the number of injuries per 1000 hours of participation. This is the incidence rate. Dr. Yuri Feito explains the concept here: http://drfeitoblog.wordpress.com/201...ed-by-numbers/

3. Comparison:

At least 52 Americans have died competing in triathlons since 2007. (I trust that Eric Robertson has already started writing “USA Triathlon’s Dirty Little Secret). Are triathlons high-risk? To answer this question, you would have to find an incidence rate, as discussed above. Next, you would need to compare it with other sports and fitness training.

As Dr. Lon Kilgore has said: http://journal.crossfit.com/2009/11/...d-trainers.tpl

"Even if a trainer takes care of every screening detail, exquisitely explains the benefits and risks of training within his system, and obtains an assumption of risk and a waiver of liability from a trainee, and even if every cleanliness, equipment- safety, exercise-technique and supervisory standard is met, someone will get hurt. The statistics tell us that. It is a certainty. We just can’t say who or when."

This is not just true of CrossFit – it is true of all human movement. And still, we dare to leave the couch. Consider a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research entitled “The nature and prevalence of injury during CrossFit training.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24276294

Their online survey found an incidence rate of 3.1 injuries per 1000 hours of CrossFit. Jeff Barnett capably addressed the study’s possible flaws and biases here: http://breakingmuscle.com/crossfit/a...ry-in-crossfit, but the study is still notable. They are the first researchers in all of exercise science to publish a study on CrossFit that met the three standards listed here.

The researchers note that the rate is “similar to those seen in other high intensity and technically demanding sports such as Olympic weight lifting and power lifting as well as general fitness training.”

The “general fitness training” source the researchers cite found a rate of 5.92 injuries per 1000 hours of training. That’s nearly twice what the researchers found for CrossFit: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8346764

Here are some more studies for comparison:
Triathlon: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1332066/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12723674
Running (multiple studies have found an injury rate 10X what this study found for CrossFit): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8536050
And
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18487252
and
http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/15/2/168.short
Weightlifting:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1322916/
Gymnastics: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1756196/

The headlines are right; they just got the victims wrong. CrossFit is dangerous – for less effective training programs (and much of the food industry).

Last edited by Russell Greene : 01-29-2014 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:18 PM   #2
Chris Mason
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Re: On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

Honestly, those people are just morons and jealous or envious of CrossFit's success on some level when they feel compelled to say such things.
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:56 PM   #3
Adam Shreim
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Re: On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

I have hurt myself doing a bunch of things, in regular everyday life and exercise, both. Oddly enough, I have only hurt myself inside a CrossFit gym... I broke my big left toe. How did I do it, you ask? Did I drop a kettlebell on my foot? Did a wild bouncing bar somebody dropped ding my toe? Did I fall off of the muscle-up rings and land funny?

No. I kicked a tired because I got upset at my performance doing 50x455# Tire Flips, for time. One of my good friends beat me by 3 seconds and I turbo kicked the crap out of that tire. Bam. Broken left toe.

That is it. That is the extent of my injuries related to CF.

I tore a muscle in my back, in my garage, doing power clean singles, before I knew how to power clean. I put 100% effort into learning lifts, properly, after that incident. It had nothing to with CF, though. I was even following a program for weightlifters.
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Old 01-29-2014, 03:29 PM   #4
Lance Neumeyer
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Re: On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

How expensive would it be to pay a 3rd party to conduct a study? I'm sure it depends on the size/length of the study, but is this something that HQ has considered?
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Old 01-29-2014, 07:55 PM   #5
Robert Fabsik
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Re: On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Greene View Post
2. Time frame:

With a long enough time frame, the fatality rate for all activities is 100%. An injury rate without a time frame is meaningless.
What do you mean the fatality rate is 100%?
Meaning every sport will have a fatality OR if you play a sport long enough you'll die from it?

A sport that had one fatality in 20 years would not have a 100% fatality rate.
Heck, no sport nears a 100% fatality rate unless you consider the deer in hunting.

On another note, I think all sports have inherent risk some more than others. I think the more important question to ask is based on your goals what risk is necessary to achieve those goals.

If you are just wanting wellness, I think you can make an argument against many movements. If you want fitness, the line grays more and if you want fitness faster you may be willing to take on more risk.

For non-competitive Crossfitter, I think many have raised the question about:
1.) Repetitive box jumps.
2.) Kipping Pullups
3.) High rep oly lifts

And this is where I think, Crossfit is not at fault but the one leading their training is (whether it is self-prescribed or by a coach).

So looking at the 3 movements that receive frequent criticism, you can always opt not to do them especially if you have a medical or orthopedic issue.

In addition, a wise coach would not put someone into these movements until they are ready. A newbie shouldn't be doing 24" box jumps for 30 reps.

A newbie shouldn't be clean and jerking for reps until trained in it and then load considerations also need to be made. If all you can clean in 135, then you shouldn't be doing a metcon with 135. Hence scaling.

I think CF has been good in using your first WODs scaled as skill building first then eventually hitting fitness.

Maybe CF needs a sister site OrthoFit where WODs are scaled to minimal risk?

Overall, you can't get fit without taking some risk.
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:52 AM   #6
Matt Thomas
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Re: On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

I think Russ was trying to say everyone dies eventually in a clever way.
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:32 AM   #7
Kirk Dragsbaek
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Re: On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Fabsik View Post
What do you mean the fatality rate is 100%?
Meaning every sport will have a fatality OR if you play a sport long enough you'll die from it?

A sport that had one fatality in 20 years would not have a 100% fatality rate.
Heck, no sport nears a 100% fatality rate unless you consider the deer in hunting.
I challenge you to name me one athlete that hasn't dies eventually. I think this is the point of the comment. If you make the time frame long enough the fatality rate for life is 100% no matter what you do.
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Old 01-30-2014, 01:36 PM   #8
Matt Thomas
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Re: On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

I'm sorry but that is stupid. I don't want to get into the rest of this article. But of course EVERY athlete dies. Does every athlete die as a direct result of their sport? Come on guys.
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Old 01-30-2014, 01:48 PM   #9
Russell Greene
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Re: On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

Robert,

I have also heard the rumors that high rep olympic lifting is more dangerous than heavy lifting, as well as your other concerns. You're right that scaling is important, but you are also repeating what every CrossFit L1 course has taught for over a decade.

Here's my question for you:
Why aren't you recommending that people avoid running? Studies listed above found running to have nearly 10X the injury rate of what the Hak survey found for CrossFit.

P.S. If you do anything long enough, you will die. That was my point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Fabsik View Post
What do you mean the fatality rate is 100%?
Meaning every sport will have a fatality OR if you play a sport long enough you'll die from it?

A sport that had one fatality in 20 years would not have a 100% fatality rate.
Heck, no sport nears a 100% fatality rate unless you consider the deer in hunting.

On another note, I think all sports have inherent risk some more than others. I think the more important question to ask is based on your goals what risk is necessary to achieve those goals.

If you are just wanting wellness, I think you can make an argument against many movements. If you want fitness, the line grays more and if you want fitness faster you may be willing to take on more risk.

For non-competitive Crossfitter, I think many have raised the question about:
1.) Repetitive box jumps.
2.) Kipping Pullups
3.) High rep oly lifts

And this is where I think, Crossfit is not at fault but the one leading their training is (whether it is self-prescribed or by a coach).

So looking at the 3 movements that receive frequent criticism, you can always opt not to do them especially if you have a medical or orthopedic issue.

In addition, a wise coach would not put someone into these movements until they are ready. A newbie shouldn't be doing 24" box jumps for 30 reps.

A newbie shouldn't be clean and jerking for reps until trained in it and then load considerations also need to be made. If all you can clean in 135, then you shouldn't be doing a metcon with 135. Hence scaling.

I think CF has been good in using your first WODs scaled as skill building first then eventually hitting fitness.

Maybe CF needs a sister site OrthoFit where WODs are scaled to minimal risk?

Overall, you can't get fit without taking some risk.
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Old 01-30-2014, 01:55 PM   #10
Jeff Enge
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Re: On Movement and Risk (W/f/s)

Anybody doing anything can hurt themselves. The reason running has such a relatively high injury rate is because there's such a high percentage of people that are going out and starting a relatively serious running program by themselves, possibly practically "off the couch" with no prior experience or qualified instruction.

This is the same with weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, any other activity. The barrier to entry in the those is much higher than in running though. Anybody can go run.

The risk in the movements is inherent. That risk can be mitigated by proper instruction.

I'm not going any further with my opinion on that related to CrossFit coaching specifically because it will probably get me in trouble.

Last edited by Jeff Enge : 01-30-2014 at 01:58 PM.
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