Sadly, injuries play a part in the careers of many—if not most—athletes. Often, the pain of sitting on the bench unable to play or practice outweighs the pain of the injury itself. Whether the injury is career-ending or just requires a splint for a few weeks, it’s a situation in which no athlete wants to be. With the help of CrossFit conditioning, though, it’s also a situation that is entirely preventable most of the time.
Why do athletes get injured? Sometimes, injuries are truly just a freak thing that no one could have prevented—coming down too hard after shooting a basket at basketball practice, or a football tackle taking the wrong angle. But more often, athletes get injured because they weren’t conditioned well enough. A holistic approach—meaning, strength training and cardio work instead of solely team practice—is necessary to strengthen muscles, ligaments, and tendons to prepare athletes for game day. Another common problem is that even if the athletes focus on conditioning, they might be performing exercises with poor form. This can also lead to greater risk of injury. Previous injuries, dehydration, and poor nutrition are other factors that play a part in many youth sports injuries.
What are the most common sports injuries? Common sports injuries among youth athletes include hamstring strains, knee injuries (especially ACL tears), and ankle sprains.
How can CrossFit help? The biggest way that CrossFit can help prevent sports injuries is by making athletes’ muscles, ligaments, and tendons stronger. CrossFit also teaches athletes the right way to perform weightlifting and bodyweight exercises. A good CrossFit coach can do wonders for an athlete’s form—especially a youth athlete who may be new to the weightlifting scene—and thus, their injury prevention. CrossFit can also help avoid specific injuries. For example, squats can help strengthen and stabilize the muscles around your knees to prevent ACL tears. Jumping exercises (plyometrics) also help to keep ACL injuries at bay; CrossFit exercises that fall into that category include jump rope, box jumps, broad jumps, and even snatches, cleans, and jerks. Romanian deadlifts help strengthen hamstrings, and calf raises can be a great warm-up prehab exercise before your WOD to put your fears of a sprained ankle at rest.