Getting Critical About CrossFit Critics, Part 2: Experts and Words

By February 4, 2014 wod No Comments

Yesterday’s post of Part 1 of this series struck a chord with a lot of people, which is good since I’ve got a lot more where that came from. On the downside, now I feel all of this pressure to be amazing. Fortunately I’m amazing like, 83% of the time, so we might both get lucky here. Let’s start off today by talking about experts.

There are three different kinds of experts you have to deal with when it comes to putting CrossFit down and putting the scare in folks. The first I touched on yesterday: the Old Guard of Fitness. These are folks who probably know a lot about their field but are often too set in their ways to research this CrossFit thing on their own. They’ve either taken what everyone else says about CrossFit at face value, found one CrossFit gym doing something horrible and branded us all with that label or are just trying to shut out the new kid. Most of that I covered in yesterday’s post (I think. I mean, who has time to read all these words, amirite?), so we’ll move on to the next expert: the Talking Head.

The Talking Head can take many forms, much like a Hydra of sorts (insert mythology reference here to sound educated) (no, insert Marvel Comics reference to sound geeky) (Dammit!). While the classic definition of Talking Heads is someone on TV (insert David Byrne reference to seem cool. Or old. Dammit!) we really see these Talking Heads show up both in print and TV. Throw some initials behind someone’s name and people will take what they say at face value.

Like this utter tool.

Like Dr. Tool here.

That is a picture of a local orthopedic doctor who was interviewed for the local “CrossFit Injuries” report. In that report, he says: “I definitely do see probably several times a month, someone who you might say is a ‘CrossFit victim’ who said they’ve been trying some sort of new workout regimen…” That’s right. A “CrossFit Victim,” with a dumbass little ingratiating smile after saying it. As much as I’d like to go into a “guns don’t kill people” style rant about that little asshole remark, we’ll instead talk about why his brain seems to be malfunctioning. But first, let’s bring up the third expert: medical professionals you have to visit.

Whether you need to see someone about your weekly anti-rhabdo injections or are of the age where it’s apparently required to occasionally have a finger in your butt (both of which are pretty much the same thing), you’ll have to come into contact with someone from the medical field. If you happen to mention CrossFit, there’s about a 99% chance that you’re about to get a stupid response. It will probably fall along the lines of Dr. Tool’s comment up there, whether it’s about stricken joints, rhabdo plagues or some other over-perceived CrossFit injury. Let’s get back to that brain malfunction, shall we?

There can be several things playing into the doctor’s opinion which, like I mentioned yesterday, can have some small basis of fact under all of the BS. Do people get hurt doing CrossFit? Yes. Do people get hurt exercising? Yes. Do people get hurt while walking? Yes. Do people get hurt while sneezing? Yes. What’s the common denominator in all of these things? People. People get hurt. People either accidentally get hurt in a way no one would have expected, or they get hurt while doing something stupid, which we all expected. As much as we try to prevent the former, we have to keep an unwavering eye on the latter.

But what’s with this rise in injuries the doctors are seeing? They’re all talking about increases in patients they’ve seen with all of these horrible things that were caused by CrossFit! Surely it’s only a matter of time until I’m next! What did my friends get me into, telling me this would make my life better when it’s making these hordes of people’s lives worse?

20140205 - Your tits, Calm Them Now

We have a couple of different issues at play here. The first is terminology. We’ll even overlook the “probably” that Dr. Tool threw in there and focus on one word: “increase.” You’ll hear about “increasing numbers of people” getting injured by CrossFit, but what does that really mean? If yesterday I had no patients with a CrossFit injury and today I have one, that’s an increase. In fact, if we extrapolate from those findings, in a couple of years my practice will only be seeing people with CrossFit injuries. Remember that numbers can easily be used to lie as long as you use the right phrasing around them. I’ll get into statistics later. Or tomorrow. We’ll see how this goes.

The other big issue has a specific name that I can’t think of, but it’s kind of a form of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It’s like when you buy a new Dodge Dart and all of a sudden you notice all of these other people driving Dodge Darts on the road. They’ve always been driving them, but now that you have a reason to focus, you notice them a lot more. Suddenly, the world is full of Dodge Darts. Once you hear a patient use a specific word for their injury (“I was hurt when I was doing CrossFit”) you start catching on to other people saying the same word and before you know it, CrossFit’s everywhere.

One thing that plays into that phenomenon in our case is the fact that CrossFit is so broad and inclusive. For decades doctors have treated patients who hurt themselves running or hurt themselves lifting weights or hurt themselves doing gymnastics and didn’t see any sort of syndrome going on. Since CrossFit includes all of these things, there’s three times the possible number of people getting hurt. Just to make up random numbers here, if you previously had one person per day come in with a running injury, one with a lifting injury and one with a gymnastics injury, you could have three come in with a CrossFit injury. When people get hurt doing CrossFit, it’s rarely some new way they get hurt. There’s just now an umbrella over the injuries that people can point to and blame. And speaking of ways to get hurt, it’s that time. Let’s talk about the R word. No, not the R word that Ryan brought up in the comments yesterday – let’s talk about rhabdo.

Mention of rhabdomyolysis in any of your typical “Here’s why CrossFit will kill you” articles is usually my stopping point. One of the biggest reasons we get called out on this is because we know about rhabdo and talk about it. This is beyond idiotic to me and blows my mind when we get dinged for that. I would be upset it my trainer didn’t know what rhabdo was and never mentioned the possibility to me. Because guess what – rhabdomyolysis existed long before CrossFit was a twinkle in Greg Glassman’s eye, and it will always be here because that’s the way bodies work. The fact that we know about it and can keep an eye out for it works in our favor. If you shun CrossFit because of all the things you’ve read and hire on a personal trainer at your globogym, ask them about rhabdo. If they tell you it’s only a CrossFit thing, take your money and move on to the next personal trainer.

Okay, that’s almost too many words for me to go back through and proofread, so I’ll draw part 2 to a close and have more for you tomorrow in part 3. It’s a good thing February’s a short month – I’m bound to work through the anger by March. Probably. Feel free to comment below – if you haven’t commented before, your comment will be held ’til it’s approved, but I tend to approve everything as long as it’s not spam.

Ready for the end? Head over to Part Three of the series for the conclusion.

Our Partners

  • crossfitjournal
  • tough