crossfit fitness health running

Who gets injured more – runners or Crossfitters?

Friday, 23 October 2015

Crossfit often gets criticised for being dangerous and for injuring people. I always cringe when I come across yet another Crossfit basher, either in person or in writing online (they tend to be SO passionate – even though they don’t usually do Crossfit themselves).

I know a lot of Crossfitters but I also know a lot of runners and guess what – it seems to me that runners are injured more often than Crossfitters. Or if not more than just as much.

What’s the common denominator?


Humans who do too much too soon.

Injuries are often just as simple as that.

Sometimes they are more complicated if there are underlying physiological issues that people are born with or developed over the years (that includes weak muscles that make the body overcompensate in other ways), but often it’s just people not knowing their own limits, not being mindful of their body and just pushing too far.


Apparently alternate breathing when running is one thing that can prevent injuries – you hit the ground with greater force when you exhale (than when you inhale) so it’s a good idea to exhale while landing on alternate legs to make sure it’s not just one side of your body that has to deal with all the exhale-landing-force. Ever tried it? Sounds legit? I do it – as you can see from most of my race photos – they always capture my exhale face :)

Here’s my guide to avoiding injuries, whether you do Crossfit or run:

  1. Don’t run too much / too soon / every day
    The rule is to never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%, and running every day just stresses your body out and it also makes running no fun because you do it all.the.time. At least that’s been my experience.
  2. Don’t ignore niggles, even the smallest ones
    Mindfulness – if it’s niggling, address it. Don’t run with pain or niggles that make you constantly think about the niggle and wonder if you should stop.
  3. Don’t lift weights incorrectly / don’t lift weights that are so heavy that you cannot lift them correctly
    In weight lifting it’s super important that you learn how to do it correctly. Find a good coach to begin with or look at good online resources, Strength Ambassadors, for example.
  4. Don’t do Crossfit every day
    As much as you love it. And I know it too well, Crossfitters LOVE Crossfit emoji emoji emoji – don’t #gohardorgohome every single day. You are not a machine.
  5. If you run and don’t lift weights – lift weights
    Strong muscles mean less impact on your joints and bones.
  6. If you do Crossfit and don’t run – run
    It will come in handy in running WODs but running is also a great ‘recovery’ exercise.
  7. Do yoga
    It’s good for you and it doesn’t have to be full-on 90 minute Bikram sessions (although I do love Bikram a lot), they can just be 10 minutes of sun salutations or downward dogs or headstands a day.
  8. Get a sports massage on a regular basis
    These are also good for you.
  9. Use a foam roller
    It hurts but it’s all good kinds of pain. Or it should be :) Check out how to do it correctly.
  10. Don’t do crazy things like run a 100 back to back marathons or 100mile ultras
    Very few people can withstand that much running. Mostly just Cat and Louise and Susie :)

What would you add? Anything you disagree with?



Probably because I bring you such scientifically solid information like the post above ;), I have been shortlisted in the running blogs category for Myprotein Fitness Blogger awards!  Thank you to whoever nominated me. I don’t stand a chance of winning, looking at the list, but I’m stoked to be in the shortlist.


I have also been listed in the list of Relentless Running Blogs – check out the list, there are some great running blogs there (I follow most of them).

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  • @kat_walk01 Friday, 23 October 2015 at 16:23

    Ooh this is an interesting topic. I am a runner and I have done cross fit so I think I can come at this from a reasonable perspective. I’m also a sports and exercise physio so I think I have some background experience in treating both.
    I see more runners than crossfitters. Personally I think that this is because (and this is just from personal experience) crossfitters are not always that honest about their injuries and will continue to scale or do other crossfit activities which enable them to train. The amount of tape I used to see in crossfit was always a concern to me. It’s a sticking plaster, not a panacea. If you’re a runner it is harder to continue running while injured than it is to do upper body/gymnastic work than lower limb work if you’re a crossfitter. This is just my own anecdotal experience.
    Overuse injuries often come from training error like the ones you mention above but often I think that the training error is from lack of experience or a compulsion to train over the top of injuries, not the fault of running itself. As you say, train smart and you are likely to not get injured.
    There are numerous studies going back over decades into the epidemiology of running injuries. This information is widely shared and used to improve the sport and the treatment and prevention of injuries. A group of researchers have tried to publish similar about CrossFit and they were attacked by the CrossFit and accused by Crossfitters of trying to undermine the sport. The passion definitely goes both ways and that isn’t a bad thing but sports science and health sciences just want a better understanding of an activity that is relatively new. Personally I think it’s a shame that the beginnings of research was treated as such and that other sports such as rugby/football/athletics/cycling welcome such research to help them find those tiny gains that make any kind of improvement.
    But other than that I agree, vary things, don’t just do one thing all the time, train smart and listen to your body!

    • @kat_walk01 Friday, 23 October 2015 at 16:24

      sorry, attacked by crossfit? I meant attacked by the crossfit community.

    • MrsB Monday, 26 October 2015 at 14:50

      Now that’s a properly scientific response (to a not-so-scientific blog post :). The tape that’s seen at the Crossfit games – I don’t get it. I don’t see it in my Crossfit box or at the small comps that happen locally. It’s interesting to hear that Crossfitters don’t want to hear about injuries and their patterns and how to avoid them – at my box there is a lot of emphasis on injury prevention and as soon as someone has a niggle, the coaches give them mobility exercises to do at home and modify what they do in workouts.

      As for comparing tough running races with tough Crossfit comps – runners often say they are “completely broken” after a race (usually a marathon or an ultra), I don’t hear Crossfitters say that – maybe they are just a bit more full of themselves and think they are unbreakable but I do like it that they all say that a tough workout was hard but fun :D