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The Dangers of CrossFit Exposed


CrossFit has quickly become one of the fastest growing exercise trends in the United States. According to the CrossFit Games Open, there were 138,000 participants in 2013 versus 69,240 in 2013. Do the math and that’s a 99 percent growth rate year-over-year.

Men and women across the land are becoming buff and bold — and for good reason! The average workout session is packed with intensive exercises that can help CrossFitters bulk up quickly. For instance, the “Filthy 50″ is a CrossFit staple that includes 50 reps of 10 different exercises done as fast as humanly possible. However, there are some hidden dangers of CrossFit that coaches don’t always tell you about.

Physical therapist Eric Robertson points out that more often than not an intense CrossFit workout can leave anyone barely able to bend their arms or walk the next day. While it may seem that aches and pains should come with the territory, Robertson asserts it may be more serious than you think.



Rhabdomyolysis is a rare condition that has been reported amongst the military elite, ultra-endurance athletes, and professional football players pushed too far.

Referred to as Rhabdo in the world of CrossFit, it is the result of muscle cells exploding and dying. When this occurs, protein is leached into the blood stream and then the kidneys are forced to clean up the mess. This is very dangerous because “myoglobin proteins aren’t designed to be in the blood in the first place and they can easily overload the kidney. This can produce injury or death to all or part of the kidney in a short amount of time, and is potentially lethal,” says Robertson.

In 2005, when CrossFit really began to take off, The New York Times ran an extensive article on the subject. Within the piece, CrossFit founder Glassman admits, “It can kill you. I’ve always been completely honest about that.”

While this happens to very few people, it’s important to understand the dangers of pushing the body too far. No matter what type of exercise you engage in, listen to your body and work to create a base fitness level before diving in.

Other Common Injuries

Common CrossFit injuries include lower back strains and pulls, slipped disks, torn rotator cuffs, knee tendinopathy, calf strains, and even Achilles ruptures.

“If you have a preexisting condition — an old ACL tear, tendon damage, or a slipped disk — this kind of exercise will bring it to the surface,” says Robert Hayden, a chiropractor and spokesman for the American Chiropractic Association.

Should You Avoid CrossFit?

Hayden and other health experts strongly suggest that prospective and current  CrossFitters assess their overall health and condition to answer this question. If you have been plagued with numerous injuries (or one very serious one), you may be better off finding another fitness avenue.

If you’re injury free, you may be a better candidate. But before you go buck-wild, you need to be very careful. As we said, take time to build a fitness base. This can be done on your own at the gym or at home. When you join an official CrossFit gym, observe what is going on very closely. Just because an instructor is pushing you to extremes doesn’t mean you have to push yourself beyond what is healthy. Listen to your body and be perfectly fine with backing off.

CrossFit expert Michael Campi suggests paying close attention to your form. Always ask for help if you aren’t sure you’re doing something right. And if your gym doesn’t think form is important, run for the hills!


The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research recently published a study that revealed numerous fitness benefits associated with CrossFit. Yet, on the dark side, the study found that 16 percent of the participants of the study had to quit the program due to “overuse or injury.”


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