For the past month I’ve been talking about different types of exercise regimes – whether I recommend them for firefighters and what their pros and cons are. I’ve written about yoga/pilates, P90X, circuit workouts, high intensity interval training and endurance training/running. Tons of firefighters have weighed in too, so head over to the comments sections to get some great insight from your peers.
Today I’m going to broach the topic of Crossfit. I feel like I’m swimming in shark infested waters because Crossfit is a very hot topic right now in the fitness industry and lovers of this exercise regime tend to be quite passionate about it.
Here’s my opinion: Crossfit is a great full-body workout and one that I think could be beneficial for firefighters since it is high intensity, it improves all the components of fitness, and it burns a lot of calories. However, I encourage people to use caution when doing Crossfit, or any extremely challenging exercise for that matter, since the potential for injury is obviously increased. Research illustrates that fatigue significantly compromises good technique, so that is concerning when the goal is to perform as many repetitions as possible in a given amount of time.
Crossfit encourages a very large range of motion for most joints in the body. This can be really helpful for some who need to improve their flexibility, but detrimental for others who don’t have (and never will have) the ligamentous support to keep their joints in a safe position when performing these moves. So, when performing this type of exercise, it becomes extremely important to listen to your body and back off if you feel any overuse injuries coming on.
The training to become a Crossfit instructor is not, in my opinion, too rigorous. So although I often hear that Crossfit instructors enforce that their clients start out slow and make sure they are doing things “right,” I wonder to myself “well do they know what right really is?” So make sure your Crossfit instructor has a strong background in strength and conditioning and a real appreciation for injury avoidance. A good site to follow if you want to be sure you’re getting correct information is http://www.mobilitywod.com/. Kelly Starrett, DPT, is a fellow doctor and a proponent of Crossfit.
Ultimately, I’m ecstatic that so many people have found a love of exercise through Crossfit. But I don’t think it’s right for everyone, just as I have stated in previous posts that there is no ONE right way to exercise for everyone; it depends on your body type/build and your strong and weak areas.
After I originally posted this article, one of my readers told me about an interview with one of the world’s most prolific spine researchers, Stuart McGill, who also works a lot with firefighters and has done amazing work helping people avoid back pain and injury. His thoughts/suggestions about Crossfit are in line with mine. Click here to read the article.
If you’ve tried Crossfit yourself, tell us about it in the comments section so others can learn from your experience.
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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, / FreeDigitalPhotos.net