Crossfit Injury Prevention

Look around a CrossFit gym, or “box” as they’re called, and you’ll see men and women of all fitness levels performing pushups, pull-ups, ring dips, and a variety of other exercises in addition to lifting impressively large barbells.

What may not be obvious to the casual observer, however, is the incredible amount of strain being placed on the wrist of every single athlete.

Dr. Philip To, Hand and Upper Extremity Specialist at Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists believes that exercise is paramount to health and that as people become more active, they feel good and look good--it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, the strain to your wrists can cause long-term damage if you’re not a well-informed CrossFit athlete.

The CrossFit Concern

CrossFit athletes trying to achieve high lifts and personal bests too quickly are at risk of developing serious hand and wrist injuries. Dr. To encourages CrossFit athletes to start off with a trainer and work up to weights that are comfortable for them. Then, when they’re ready to achieve their personal best, their body will be conditioned for it.

Healthy, well-supported wrists are the foundation of most CrossFit exercises. If you’re looking to score AMRAP (As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible) or nail that WOD (Work Out Of The Day): Wrap. Those. Wrists.

Wrist Wraps: The RX For Higher Lifts

A lot of CrossFit exercises involve the wrists, so it’s imperative CrossFit athletes use a cloth, elastic or tape wrist wrap for added protection. Camelback CrossFit Owner Matt Rhodes always takes the time to show athletes how to wrap their wrists, whether they’re new to CrossFit or are veterans of the sport.

While wrist wraps may not completely prevent injury, they do provide some support and can assist athletes in reaching higher lift goals. Plus, wrist wraps generally supply support in a wide variety of other crossfit-related exercises. 

And If You Sustain An Injury…

If you hurt your wrist while doing an extension motion, where your wrist goes back and you chronically have pain, this pain needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. The orthopedic specialists and Dr. To agree the most important thing CrossFit athletes can do for themselves is seek an early diagnosis. If your injury is not treated properly, it can lead to long-term chronic wrist arthritis.

Signs of a gnarly wrist injury include:

  • Pain in the wrist closest to the thumb
  • Snapping or popping in wrist
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Weak grip

A scapholunate ligament tear and a scaphoid fracture are also concerns.

While the very nature of CrossFit promotes muscle fatigue, it’s important to recognize the difference between injury and exercise-induced soreness. An injury that is left untreated can cause serious long-term health problems. Any pain that is past the level of discomfort or is persistent needs to be seen by a doctor.

Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists is located in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona and is one of the leading orthopedic groups in the state. With hand, wrist, shoulder, knee, hip, and sports medicine specialists on staff, the team is ready to help you get back to CrossFit or any other sport. For more information or to make an appointment, visit

©Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists, 2015

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The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.