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CrossFit Exercise Routines Not For Everyone, Experts Warn

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One sports medicine doctor says CrossFit, a workout routine that involves short but intense sessions of cardiovascular and weightlifting exercise, can pose significant health hazards to people not used to such activity.

Dr. Raza Awan, a Toronto-based medical director at Synergy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, says his office has seen a growing number of patients come in with CrossFit-related injuries.

According to Dr. Awan, the most common CrossFit injuries involve a) lumbar disc problems associated with heavy squats and deadlifts; b) shoulder and rotator cuff issues associated with pushups or overhead exercises; and c) knee injuries sustained during skipping, box jump, or heavy squat routines.

The problem, according to Dr. Awan: CrossFit is being taken up by people whose bodies aren’t ready for this kind of intense physical exercise.

“Unless someone has a background in athletics or weightlifting, they may not know how to do some of the moves,” Awan said. “I think if people exercise with good form and technique, a lot of the exercises are very sound exercises.”

Nic Martin, a head coach at a Toronto-area CrossFit center, agrees that people need to be better prepared for the demands of the CrossFit regimen. “Often times people who you know are just looking for that general fitness are getting injured because they’re doing things their bodies aren’t ready for,” Martin acknowledged.

Another problem with CrossFit may be that the routine, which often involves a time limit and people competing against one another, forces participants to push themselves too hard.

“It’s just that when you add in the competitive environment and the fact that there’s a time pressure to get done, a lot of people will lose their form and technique and become sloppy,” Awan said.

Both Awan and Martin say it’s important that anyone considering a CrossFit workout take the time to learn what’s involved and properly prepare their bodies for the intense physical activity to follow. It might also be worth working with a physical trainer who fully recognizes your physical limits.

“There’s injuries in any physical activity but it’s really important to make sure that you’re taking the [preventive] steps as an athlete,” Martin said.

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