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Written by our crossfit mad osteopath, Dr Lachlan Goodwin.  You can contact him on

It seems as though everywhere you look, Crossfit as an activity has grown into a plague, and unfortunately we have caught the bug also! More and more people that are coming into City Osteopathy have sustained injuries or take part in Crossfit based activities. Personally we find this area of treatment and management highly exciting and interesting in how to manage and treat these athletes.

crossfit photo lockyLet’s strip back to basics though. Take away the crazy ‘Cult’ like fanatics and the Paleo Dieters and weird knee high socks, what is Crossfit exactly?

The following components are included in Crossfit’s goals and methods

• Diet – lays the foundations for fitness and health.

• Metabolic Conditioning – builds capacity in each of three energy pathways, beginning with aerobic, then lactic acid, and then phosphocreatine pathways.

• Gymnastics – establishes functional capacity for body control and range of motion.

• Weightlifting and throwing – develop ability to control external objects and produce power.

• Sport – applies fitness in competitive atmosphere with more randomized movements and skill mastery

What exercises/workouts does Crossfit include?

Biking, running, swimming, and rowing in an endless variety of drills. The clean&jerk, snatch, squat, deadlift, push-press, bench-press, and power-clean. Jumping, medicine ball throws and catches, pull-ups, dips, push-ups, handstands, presses to handstand, pirouettes, kips, cartwheels, muscle-ups, sit-ups, scales, and holds. We make regular use of bikes, the track, rowing shells and ergometers, Olympic weight sets, rings, parallel bars, free exercise mat, horizontal bar, plyometrics boxes, medicine balls, and jump rope.

Crossfit is defined as Constantly Varied, High intensity, Functional movements. What does this mean though?

The constant variance makes every work out and exercise a surprise, which is what makes Crossfit an amazing sport, not being able to specifically prepare for a WOD (work out of the day) means that we are in a better position to work on areas that we usually wouldn’t, this in turn helps us for every activity i.e. riding a bike, having to move bluestones in the garden, help pull yourself over your fence when you’re locked out.

Most workouts have a high intensity, whereby the exercise or WOD  will have a time cap, or done for time, meaning some workouts may be a sub 5 minute time for the actual workout (not including warm ups etc) to almost an hour!

The way I like to look at Crossfit is that it prepares you for high demand physical activities as well as normal day to day activities. My favourite example to use with patients and clients intrigued about Crossfit and hearing that it’s dangerous is the following;

What is the difference between a 25 year old male deadlifting 200kg and your 85 year old Grandmother lifting up her groceries? Well it’s all relative, there should be absolutely nothing differing in technique, muscle firing patterns etc, the only difference is the amount of weight being used. So why is dead-lifting dangerous? Well, it shouldn’t be if done correctly! This same theory is relevant to all exercise and Crossfit is no different.

We all squat also don’t we? So why not do it correctly, whether it’s when sitting into a seat, squatting to pick up your pet dog etc.squatting is a fundamental human movement that we should all be able to perform safely and well.

From a participant, of course I’m slightly biased towards being Pro Crossfit, however from a Health Professional point of view; I can honestly say that if done correctly cannot see another exercise/sport that can improve our day to day life from a Functional point of view.

Taking part in Crossfit has also influenced how I treat and manage patients/clients also; I have completed the Crossfit Trainer course and use a lot of the functional movements to help patients back to their full health.

The main components of Crossfit workouts are to work through Posterior Chain mechanics and midline stability, essentially our Core Stability. When correctly perfomred, all exercises from squats, to pull-ups, Olympic weightlifting utilise the correct muscle firing patterns of our most important stabilising muscles in our body’s core then our extremity movements, from a rehabilitative and functional/mechanical view, this is one of the most single important factors in strengthening and maintaining our bodies.

crossfit photo weights

My best advice when thinking about taking part in Crossfit is the following:

• Research the ‘boxes’ you are interested in, have a look at the head trainer and the trainer/coaches qualifications and relative experience

• Go to the facility and have a chat with the athletes, coaches, staff etc.

• Most boxes offer intro classes and beginner classes which is a great way to start. At my local affiliate, clients get a free intro session followed by a compulsory minimum 2 private coaching sessions to establish and lay down the groundwork of the foundational movements of crossfit.

• Tell your trainers if you are uncomfortable or cannot take part in something – they will change and scale it for your needs

• Try different boxes, each one is different and choose the one that you are most comfortable in

• Make sure your Box/affiliate takes part in appropriate warm up/warm down and mobility/stretching prior to engaging in the WOD

• Make sure you gain the appropriate guidance and coaching from trainers/coaches, correctly performing the exercises is fundamental in safety as well as improvement

• Ongoing maintenance and treatment through physical therapy to help your body recover and reach its optimum performance levels