There seems to be a misconception that CrossFit causes back injuries. That CrossFit is the cause of a myriad of injuries, and that you cannot come into our gym if you have even a little bit of pain in your joints.
Working in the same building as a chiropractor, we see our fair share of back injuries. I can assure you that most people seeing the chiropractor injured themselves doing something completely unrelated to CrossFit, but I digress.
So the question is, can you do CrossFit if you have some sort of back pain or injury. The answer is yes, but it may not look like a group class. **If you have been told not to do exercise by your doctor, please clear it with him first before you start any exercise program**
Strengthening your back is one of the best ways to alleviate back pain and prevent future pain and injury.
Many of the movements that we do in CrossFit are exceptionally good at developing strength through the back. Take for example the deadlift. While we use the old adage, “lift with your legs not with your back,” the deadlift most certainly trains the back. The force required to maintain a rigid spine throughout the lift and extend the hips to lock out trains and develops many back muscles such as the erector spinae.
We can also modify movements to target the back even more. Movements like the RDL and the Good Morning, when executed with adequate time under tension, will strengthen the back. Basically any movement where we are forced to resist weight from pulling us forward is going to help create a strong back.
However, all of these movements must be done intentionally with a focus on proper technique and bracing of the spine. If we add weight, speed, or intensity without addressing proper technique we can set ourselves up for injury.
If you are working through a current back injury, we can take load off of the spine by using dumbbells instead of barbells for squatting movements, minimizing the compressive force on the spine. The training goal should be to work through as much pain free as we can, strengthening the muscles of the back while minimizing pain.
Davis’s Law states that a body’s soft tissues adapt to the stresses that are put upon it. If we consistently refrain from training the back, we are setting ourselves up for future failure. We need to stress and strain the muscles of the back in order to force change and strengthen our body’s ability to stave off future injury.
Ultimately, CrossFit can be directed to work around back troubles and work to prevent future back injury. We must be mindful of weight and intensity, especially when first starting. But as you are able to maintain proper form and positioning, CrossFit can create a strong back free from injury.
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