Is crossfit right for me?
Finding the right workout regimen for me is one of the most effective injury prevention techniqes I can recommend. Going from a sedentary lifestlyle to the rigors of crossfit is a recipe for injury almost every time. My personal recommendation is that crossfit probably isn't the ideal program to get in shape, but is phenomonal for getting in top shape. As in every physical activity, periodization, or gradually increasing the intensity and duration of workouts should be an integral aspect of all injury prevention strategies. Many crossfit coaches are aware of this and incorporate it into their programs and in those cases crossfit may be a safe way to begin a fitness program. However sometimes the athlete or the coach can be so motivated to keep up with their online and box community that this is ignored, leading to stress injuries and other ailments. Overall, one should be comfortable in a moderate exercise program from a cardiovascular standpoint and free from significant joint pain with mild to moderate resistance activities before embarking on the rigors of crossfit. If that's not the case then working up to that level is the first step I would recommend before enrolling in a crossfit program.
How do I get started?
Touching on the above items, being in an active exercise program and pain free with moderate exercise is for me the first step in considering a crossfit program. Next is selecting the proper box, coach, and or community. If you're a novice ensure that they have experience in acclimating new members in the proper techniques and basic movements first before proceeding with more complex tasks. Ensure you can master basic kettle bell and air squats with good form before attempting clean and jerk type activities. Several programs will even completely remove these olympic type activities from their regimens to lessen the wear and tear on the lumbar spine that these movements can put one at risk for. Lastly ensure that as you begin the program you are getting adequate rest. 1-2 days a week, possibly more in the early weeks of training, of rest appears to be a good rule of thumb to allow your body to rest and recover.
How do I prevent injury?
Once you have ensured that crossfit is the proper level of training for you, found a good environment with people at similar fitness levels, and become acclimated to the program, how does one go about preventing injury during the rigorous training of crossfit to maximize the benefits it can provide? Paramount is ensuring the proper supervision and training to ensure your technique is sound. Experienced coaches are key in preventing injury. Focusing on technique and repetition as opposed to speed and the amount of weight you're lifting should be to goal, especially as you acclimate to training. Having done that, as one progresses to new skills and increasing levels of activity, constantly be aware of your limits. One of crossfit's biggest benefits is when one pushes their body to its limits and achieves levels of strength and endurance you may not have thought possible for yourself. Balancing this benefit with a realistic knowledge of your body's limits based on your age, fitness level, and pre-existing limitations is key to progressing without injury.
No pain no gain
Crossfit is a strenuous workout and will inevitably lead to soreness and fatigue. However severe pain that affects other activities of daily living, especially sleep, can be a warning sign of a more significant problem. Resting, ice, over the counter pain medication, and modifying your workouts shoulder get you back in short time. If not seeking professional evaluation is a recommended step to make sure it is safe to resume training or if further action is needed.