CrossFit is good for health, but should be practiced with professionals

By Javier Peña, University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia

Of all the proposals for health exercise, the one that has grown the most in recent years is CrossFit. This type of exercise is owned by the company of the same name founded in the United States in 2000, and has had a meteoric rise internationally.

Proof of this is that the number of specific CrossFit gyms or “boxes” (term used by affiliated centers) is already at more than 15,000 worldwide. This figure is not negligible if we consider that the international chain with more conventional gyms, Planet Fitness, has a total of 1,500 centers, although it is true that the CrossFit business model is not the conventional franchise that proliferates in the sector.

In Spain it has entered with great force, and is within the select group of the 15 countries of the world with more affiliated gyms. We talked about a total of 454, a figure that increased last year by 23%.

As in any successful activity, followers and detractors of this modality can be counted almost equally. The former argue that what has seduced them from practicing CrossFit is the variety of their classes, the rapid improvement they experience in their physical condition and the sense of belonging to a community. Critics talk about "sect", a sport that is not for everyone and a high number of injuries in its practitioners.

But, when we turn to more objective data, what do we really know about CrossFit?

The first thing that catches our attention is that the number of men and women who practice CrossFit in the world is very similar. Men do not usually participate in classes of activities aimed at gyms, so it becomes an exception to the rule.

The age range in which the bulk of the participants are placed in the so-called “classes of the day” (WOD) of CrossFit is 25 to 44 years, 60%. However, these gyms also try to attract another type of audience and have specific classes for other ages, since the method provides for adaptations for all their exercises.

CrossFit and childhood

The ultimate expression of these alternative classes is the CrossFit Kids program. These programs seem to be extremely interesting for the improvement of the physical condition, especially when our young people meet with many difficulties the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) to practice 60 minutes of physical activity, from moderate to vigorous, per day.

Therefore, some experts warn of a generalized loss of physical condition of the current young generations compared to the previous ones. At a time when our physical education is increasingly more education, but probably less physical, the fitness Childhood can be a good solution to this problem.

Adult crossfit

When we talk about adults, are the benefits of CrossFit equally remarkable?

The answer seems to be yes. Being a deliberately non-specialized training program, it attempts to improve various components of physical fitness (cardiorespiratory health, muscle strength and endurance, range of motion), balance, coordination, agility and precision of movements.

The more longitudinal studies show significant improvements in some of the physical condition parameters mentioned. While it is true that research should still be continued so that data from an important group of studies can be synthesized and thus be more conclusive.

The bad reputation of injuries

One of the concerns of people who approach a CrossFit gym is the possibility of suffering injuries resulting from their practice. While the method seems to have a bad reputation in this regard, studies say that “the incidence of injuries associated with CrossFit training programs are comparable or lower than the rates of injuries in weightlifting, running, athletics, rugby or gymnastics” .

The anatomical areas that generate more problems in the CrossFit are the shoulders, knees and upper back, and the lumbar region, but the reported cases are far from alarming. Of course, those with less experience and those who go less to the gym are those who should go with greater care.

As in other sports activities, the training of trainers seems to be a more important element to avoid injuries than the activity itself. A recent study shows that the incidence of injuries in the fitness He was older in programs that were not supervised by a sports science professional.

In a context in which the Spanish Ministry of Health has recently recognized the competences of physical and sports educators in the field of health exercise, we will say that the important thing is that people do the exercise that they most want, but Let him do it with judgment and in good hands.

Javier Peña, Director of the Center for Studies in Sports and Physical Activity (CEEAF), Universitat de Vic – Central University of Catalonia

This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original.