Everyone has heard of CrossFit, the new workout trend. I have a love hate relationship with it. It is helping a lot of people get in better shape and make important lifestyle changes; however, I see many patients with exercise related injuries. Most of these injuries involve the low back and are related to excessive flexion of the spine without proper core stabilization.
The most common cause of lower back injuries is excessive flexion without stabilization. Add rotation into the mix and it’s even worse. The discs of the spine contain a central nucleus that is composed of 80% water. Think back to science class, water can’t be compressed. Much like a water balloon, when pressure is applied to the front of the disc there is expansion of the back portion of the disc. Constant repetition of this action coupled with a lack of support leads to irritation of the ligamentous portion of the disc, disc bulging, or even disc herniation. When it comes to exercising, when form fails the body fails.
If CrossFit is your thing then finding the right gym is important. Much like chiropractors, there are good and bad CrossFit coaches. Some are trained very little while others are extremely knowledgeable about the body and proper technique. My advice is to test the waters. Most gyms offer a free introductory class where you can try out their workouts and ask the coaches questions. Find a coach/gym that is a stickler for proper form. “Failure” should be failure to do the exercise with adequate form, not failure to physically perform the motion anymore.
Ask questions and get involved when choosing a workout location or style. It’s your body. Health starts with you!