CrossFit exercises, by nature, are meant to be high-intensity. While there’s nothing wrong with this particular approach to fitness, the combination of exercises and the increased level of intensity can result in lumbar strain and other back pain, especially since the lower back is used in many different movements (dead-lifting, kettle-bell swings, power cleans, just to name a few) associated with a CrossFit workout.
Over Enthusiasm is a Factor
Many of the CrossFit fitness routines do place some degree of strain on the lower back. However, part of the reason for the increasing instances of lower back pain is due to the over enthusiasm of some participants. For instance, some Los Angeles gyms offer Olympic weightlifting as part of their CrossFit program. Participants push themselves beyond what’s realistic, often resulting in strained back muscles.
Lack of Proper Guidance
A major criticism of the CrossFit program is that not all gyms offering the program provide proper guidance to their members. Poor form in any type of workout routine can place added stress on the lower back. And with something as high-intensity as CrossFit, poor form can result in serious injuries to the spine or supporting muscles.
Common CrossFit Injuries
Shoulder and spine injuries predominate in CrossFit. According to one study, CrossFit-related injuries coincide with common injuries experienced by weightlifters and gymnasts since many of the movements and exercises in gymnastics and weightlifting are nearly identical to CrossFit routines. Seventy-three percent of the respondents to a questionnaire sent out to CrossFit participants reported injuries, with seven percent of those injuries requiring some level of back surgery.
How to Protect Your Lower Back During CrossFit
The board-certified physicians at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration offer the following tips to help preserve the muscles in the back:
- Maintain proper flexibility and stability
- Gradually increase weight or reps over time
- Learn and practice proper form
- Use a foam roller to massage key muscle groups (can be used before and after a CrossFit workout)
If you believe you have a spinal injury that relates to your workout routine and are looking for a diagnosis or second opinion, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration at 310-828-7757 and request an in-person consultation with Dr. Bae, MD, a trusted, experienced, and board-certified spinal surgeon in Los Angeles.