CrossFit is not one of the most dangerous sports, contrary to public perception.

OMG, why do you CrossFit? It’s sooo dangerous.”

Whenever somebody says that to me, I want to punch him or her in the face and say, “You are correct. It made me injure you.”

Seriously, though, it is disturbing how many people think this. Remember the movie “Beauty and the Beast”? There is a line from it that has always stuck in my head because it applies to so many things in this world. It is when the villagers are chanting, “We don’t like what we don’t understand. In fact, it scares us.” The general public does not understand what CrossFit is; therefore they don’t like it and ridicule it. Once they are informed, their minds change because they realize they had incorrect information.

When I ask what sport causes the most injuries, what comes to mind first? According to, the top contenders of the 11 Most Dangerous Sports were football, baseball, basketball, cycling, skateboarding, horseback riding and hockey. Wait, what? No CrossFit? No weightlifting? No gymnastics? Those last two sports happen to be components of CrossFit yet weren’t even mentioned. Hmmm, let’s explore this a little further, shall we? Let’s dive into the most common sports injuries. Speaking of diving, why isn’t cliff diving on that list? But I digress.

I ride horses. Someone once told me they would rather be in a knife fight than ride a horse. True story. Have I ever been injured? Yes. I somersaulted over the head of a horse while galloping full speed down a hill. I sustained a grade 2 concussion, lower back strain and a torn bicep. When my trainer Pam caught the horse, she brought him back to me and told me to get back on and ride to the barn. She knew that if I didn’t get back on right then and there, I never would. So I did. I had surgery, rehabbed, and then got back on a horse. I worried about what would happen the next time I’d get an injury. The next fall was from my own horse and when it happened, it seemed like it was in slow motion. As I lay on my back looking up at my horse, I laughed because I wasn’t dead. I had built up this fear that the next fall might kill me. That wasted energy had been draining. It forced me to become too cautious of a rider, which my horse sensed. That little dump knocked the sense into me, because I realized I couldn’t be in this or any sport if I suffered from the “what ifs.” Does this mean that I am a reckless rider? No, I am an aware rider.

Injuries make an athlete painfully aware of the fact that we are mere mortals. We rip skin, tear muscles and break bones. We heal, we repair, and we rehab, then we go back for more once it is in the rearview mirror. Why do we do it? The answer is simple yet so richly layered. In essence, athletes are focused. Once a dream is born, the fire lit and the goal crystallized, an injury is simply a temporary detour. Look at Kevin Ogar. After sustaining a critical injury to his spinal cord, Ogar initially thought he was paralyzed, but he has feeling in his lower body. That’s incredible! The spirit and will of a human is so powerful, as Ogar has shown. He is already doing physical therapy and lifting. It is determination to get back on track.

This is what it means to train beyond pain. It does not mean to continue to train while injured, but to recover, rehab the injury, and then get back to business. When I was rehabbing my shoulder, I lay on the table while Duffy, my physical therapist stretched my shoulder while tears streamed down my face. The pain was excruciating. He said the pain is temporary and I had to get through it to move forward. I needed to get beyond the pain to get back to training. Once beyond it, I couldn’t think of myself as repaired. I wasn’t broken. An athlete who is fearful of another injury is more likely to become injured due to being overly cautious. This is where training within yourself is critical. One needs to train their mind along with their body. Training beyond the pain is realizing that you have moved past the injury and are moving forward to achieve your goals.

This brings us to an important point about injuries. While you mentally need to get past an injury, sometimes you are not physically capable of doing so. Some injuries leave evidence of their existence and we need to modify our training to accommodate those leftovers. My example: I was literally hit by a car while walking across a parking lot to pick up my dog from the animal hospital. The guy backed his car into the side of my right knee and sent me flying left. I tried to brace my fall with my left wrist. The accident fractured my right leg and severely sprained my left wrist. Due to the nerve damage, I have 50 percent less strength in that grip. (That is, incidentally, my cutting hand!) I now need to modify grips and certain lifts because of the inflexibility and lack of strength with that wrist. Does it stop me from CrossFitting or horseback riding? No, but I needed to re-learn to ride using my legs more as cues rather than reins and I need to wear wrist straps and accept that certain things I can simply no longer do with CrossFit. I am okay with that. While I get frustrated because of my limitations, I have accepted it and do the best I can with what I CAN do. THIS is how you move past an injury that leaves permanent damage. Accepting is the most difficult thing to do, but when your only alternative is the flood of negative emotions that come with self pity, anger, and resentment, you realize that focusing on what you can do is far more important than grieving about what you can’t.

So what are the most common sports injuries? In football, it is groin strain and hamstring pulls, along with ACL tears. In basketball, it is patellar tendonitis and other knee issues. In baseball, it is shoulder injuries. Of all sports injuries, 7 percent are elbow injuries, 20 percent are shoulder injuries and 55 percent are knee injuries. Of the problems seen by orthopedic surgeons, knee injuries are approximately one fourth. In all sports, the list also includes but is not limited to: Achilles tendonitis, concussions, neck injuries, shin splints, lower back strain, tennis and golf elbow, runner’s knee, herniated disks, muscle pulls, calf strains, IT band strain and blisters. In CrossFit, the main injuries are shoulder and knee injuries, hamstring strains, Achilles tendonitis and blisters. I know there are more, but these tend to be the most common. Do you see the parallel here?

CrossFit has the same injuries as other sports; so when people claim it is dangerous, please remember that PEOPLE DON’T LIKE WHAT THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND. IN FACT, IT SCARES THEM. After all, if we are able to train beyond our pain, taking the time to educate others is painless. In fact, it is recommended therapy.

By Diane Zuri

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