Exercising is excellent for both the body and mind. You can gain muscle, lose weight, and achieve your perfect body image. A relatively new exercise routine, CrossFit employs various high-intensity activities into one session. But, CrossFit also produces several injuries. CrossFit shoulder injuries are some of the most common you’ll come across.

These shoulder injuries come from various exercises within the CrossFit routines and can do some severe damage to your body.

So, before diving into common CrossFit shoulder injuries and how you can prevent them, you need to understand what CrossFit means.

What Is CrossFit?

CrossFit defines itself as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity.” That’s great, but what does that actually mean?

Well, CrossFit takes a lot of exercises, mainly the most effective ones, and smashes them together. During a CrossFit session, you’ll complete numerous exercises back-to-back. That’s part of the difficulty of it.

However, CrossFit isn’t just the best exercises lumped together. It also incorporates movements that are functional to your life — for example, squatting down to lift a child. It may seem silly, but movements like these are the kind of actions that lead to twisted backs, groin issues, and other problems.

CrossFit aims to get your heart pumping, build lean muscle, and whip you into shape. However, there’s a drawback to CrossFit training that no one wants to talk about. That drawback? Injuries.

How Common are CrossFit Injuries?

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Inherently, exercise carries risk. You have to know that, once you start running on the treadmill, there’s always that chance of pulling a muscle. Or, when you lift weights, there’s the slight risk of ripping something.

While some exercises and routines are safer than others, CrossFit has come under fire because a lot of its participants end up getting injured.

The truth is that, no, you aren’t more likely to get injured participating in CrossFit than you are in other sports. But, the key word is “sports.” In comparison to other exercise routines, it’s still inconclusive.

No matter the facts, the exercise/sport has garnered a heap of negative attention ever since it rocketed to popularity. You’re hard-pressed to find a story about CrossFit not focusing on injuries.

So, now that you know about CrossFit and the stats behind it, what are some of the most common injuries in the sport?

Shoulder injuries are common within CrossFit. With so many varied movements, the shoulders tend to bear the brunt of the pressure. A lot of people end up with shoulder issues, and shoulders aren’t the easiest part of the body to rehabilitate.

However, there are ways in which you can prevent these injuries from ever happening in the first place.

CrossFit Shoulder Injuries and How to Prevent Them

These are some of the most common CrossFit shoulder injuries. You’ll read about everything from tears and tendonitis to shoulder instability.

The good news is that every one of these injuries is preventable. When working out, always use caution.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

women hurt her shoulder Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

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The rotator cuff is one of the most critical parts of the entire arm. Ever lift something heavy and eventually stabilize yourself? That’s thanks to your rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscle-tendon units. When you pick something up, your rotator cuff stabilizes your movement. It allows you to perform the task you’re trying to accomplish.

Tendinitis is an inflammation of a muscle or joint. So, rotator cuff tendinitis is a swelling of the muscles and joints that make up the rotator cuff.

CrossFit shoulder injuries come in all shapes and sizes, and tendinitis is one such shape. If you’ve ever felt as if your shoulder is inflamed, you may have tendinitis. Other symptoms include a clicking sound when moving your shoulder and loss of mobility.

The best way to prevent rotator cuff tendinitis is to maintain a proper form when exercising — particularly with CrossFit. You can also do exercises like pulldowns and rows to strengthen your shoulder muscles. These exercises build the shoulder muscles and help prevent your rotator cuff from getting inflamed.

AC Joint Separation

x-ray of AC Joint Separation

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You’re exercising and sweating like crazy. You’re running, and almost ready to quit. That’s when your loose shoelace catches up with you, and you fall onto the pavement. You try to break your fall with an outstretched arm. Then, you feel a lot of pain on the top of your shoulder.

You’ve just experienced an AC joint separation.

This condition makes the list of the most common CrossFit shoulder injuries because you do so many different exercises, you’re bound to fall during one of them.

The AC joint sits between your clavicle and your shoulder blade. An AC joint separation occurs when the ligaments on top of your shoulder are either overextended or torn. It’s a tough injury to get through, and its symptoms include swelling and bruising on the top of the shoulder as well as a lump in that same area.

To prevent an AC joint separation, be careful when exercising. That’s the only viable option to prevent it from happening. The best solution is to prevent it from happening at all.

SLAP Tears

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CrossFit shoulder injuries don’t discriminate. They don’t care what age you are or how good of shape you’re in. They can happen at any time, and you need to watch out for them.

For example, you have a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder joint. Known as the labrum, it can sometimes get injured during a CrossFit exercise.

A SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior) tear occurs when either the top or bottom of the labrum tears. The bicep muscle connects with the labrum on the top (superior) portion of the muscle. If you tear your labrum, you almost certainly have injured your bicep muscle as well.

One of the main ways a SLAP tear occurs is when you have your arms raised above your head, and you rapidly and forcefully move them. In a CrossFit context, you may experience this if you try to move heavy weights around that are above your shoulders.

Symptoms of a SLAP tear include pain when you position your shoulder a certain way, a grinding or clicking sound when moving the shoulder, and even decreased range of motion.

To prevent a SLAP tear, stretch. Make sure your muscles are appropriately warmed up. Also, take the time to strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder. Also, avoid performing exercises incorrectly.

Shoulder Instability

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While shoulder instability may sound like a generic term, it covers a few specific shoulder injuries. Out of all the CrossFit shoulder injuries, this one is the easiest to have happen.

It occurs when the lining of the shoulder joint becomes stretched, torn, or detached. That leads to the ball of your shoulder sometimes popping out of the joint. It’s a decently painful injury, and it impacts your future for exercise.

When your shoulder becomes unstable, it’s hard to get back to 100 percent. Depending on the specific type of injury, it may take a long time until you feel comfortable lifting weights again.

To diagnose shoulder instability, an X-ray will be ordered by your doctor. From the X-ray, it’s easy to see what the problem is and what to do about it.

Like many other CrossFit shoulder injuries on this list, one of the best ways to prevent this injury is first to strengthen the shoulder muscles. For some exercises, going into the routine without having much muscle mass is okay. But, CrossFit is a different beast.

Since CrossFit demands so much out of you in various ways, you don’t want to walk into a CrossFit class unprepared. Build up your shoulder muscles so they can withstand the punishment of the exercises.

You can also wear shoulder braces and kinesiology tape. Both of those items keep you shoulder secure and your muscles loose, so you have some support when participating in the high-intensity CrossFit exercises.

Lastly, stretch. Stretching helps prevent a lot of injuries, and most people stretch improperly. Do it the right way, and you’ll be glad you did. It may just save your muscles from a world of hurt and pain.

Exercise Safely and Always Try to Prevent Injuries

Exercising safely is just as important as exercising to lose weight or build muscle. If you go into any exercise, especially CrossFit, make sure you’re adequately prepared.

Don’t take any unnecessary risks. If something is too difficult the first time, don’t tempt fate. Either lower the number of repetitions or decrease the weight.

If you’re worried about CrossFit shoulder injuries, talk with an instructor before beginning. They can fill you in on all the information you need.

Be safe, and always remember to have fun. Have you ever experienced a shoulder injury from CrossFit? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

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