Likelihood of Injury and Medical Care Between CrossFit and Traditional Weightlifting Participants

Joshua L. Elkin, Jacob S. Kammerman, Allen R. Kunselman, Robert A. Gallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: CrossFit is a popular weightlifting sport, with participants who report significant improvements in physical health; however, others argue that CrossFit exposes participants to an increased risk and severity of injury. We address this through a retrospective cohort study. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to compare the likelihood of self-reported injury and severity in CrossFit and traditional weightlifting in the previous 2 years. We hypothesized that CrossFit participants would have a higher 2-year likelihood of injury and medical care compared with a traditional weightlifting cohort. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Anonymous volunteers who participated regularly in CrossFit or traditional weightlifting routines completed a 15-question survey that queried workout routine, injury history, and medical care due to a weightlifting injury. Inclusion criteria included those older than 18 years who were active participants in CrossFit and weightlifting. Unpaired t-test analyses were conducted to compare means of continuous data between participants in CrossFit and traditional weightlifting. A multivariant logistic regression model was used to assess the association of training routine, sex, and age with those sustaining at least 1 injury within the past 2 years. Results: A total of 411 participants (122 CrossFit; 289 traditional weightlifting) completed the questionnaire. Those following a CrossFit routine were 1.30 times more likely to be injured (95% CI, 1.075-1.57; P =.0067) and 1.86 times more likely to seek medical attention (95% CI, 1.40-2.48; P <.0001). In a multivariant logistic regression analysis adjusting for sex and age, injury was 2.26 times more likely in the CrossFit group (95% CI, 1.42-3.62; P =.0010). In both groups, shoulder injuries were most common (46.41%), followed by lower back (38.28%) and hip injuries (9.09%). Conclusion: Athletes participating in CrossFit are more likely to be injured and to seek medical treatment compared with participants in traditional weightlifting. Despite these findings, the increased likelihood of injury may have less to do with the exercises involved with CrossFit and more related to the intensity with which the exercises are performed, and thus increased awareness is needed to prevent further injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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