Avoiding Setbacks: How to to Prevent Shoulder Injuries in CrossFit

Shoulder Injuries in CrossFit: Understanding the Risks and Prevention Methods

CrossFit has rapidly grown in popularity over the years, becoming one of the most widely practiced fitness programs in the world. While CrossFit is known for its intense and varied workouts, it has also been associated with a higher risk of injury, particularly shoulder injuries. In this blog post, we will explore the causes of shoulder injuries in CrossFit and what can be done to prevent them.

Shoulder injuries are common in CrossFit due to the nature of the sport. CrossFit workouts often involve a lot of overhead movements, such as snatches, overhead squats, and pull-ups. These movements require a lot of shoulder mobility and stability, and if performed incorrectly or with too much weight, they can cause significant damage to the shoulders.

The most common shoulder injuries in CrossFit include rotator cuff strains and tears, labral tears, and impingement syndrome. Rotator cuff injuries occur when the muscles and tendons that make up the rotator cuff are strained or torn. This can result in pain, weakness, and limited mobility in the shoulder. Labral tears occur when the labrum, which is a piece of cartilage that lines the rim of the shoulder socket, is torn. This can cause pain and instability in the shoulder. Impingement syndrome occurs when the rotator cuff tendons become inflamed and irritated, resulting in pain and limited mobility.

So, what can be done to prevent shoulder injuries in CrossFit? The first step is to ensure proper technique and form when performing overhead movements. It is important to work with a certified CrossFit coach to ensure that you are using proper form and technique. This includes properly engaging the shoulder blades, maintaining a stable core, and ensuring that the weight is being lifted with the shoulders and not the neck.

Another important factor in preventing shoulder injuries in CrossFit is proper warm-up and stretching. It is important to warm up the shoulders before starting a workout to increase blood flow and mobility. This can be done through simple exercises such as arm circles, shoulder rolls, and shoulder dislocates. Stretching the shoulder muscles before and after workouts can also help prevent injury.

Strength training is also important in preventing shoulder injuries in CrossFit. Strengthening the muscles around the shoulder joint can help provide stability and support, reducing the risk of injury. Exercises such as shoulder presses, lateral raises, and rows can all help strengthen the shoulder muscles.

Finally, it is important to listen to your body and take breaks when necessary. Pushing through pain or discomfort can lead to further injury and damage. If you experience pain or discomfort in your shoulders, it is important to take a break from overhead movements and consult with a healthcare professional.

From prevention to recovery: How Physiotherapists can help with shoulder injuries in CrossFit

When it comes to preventing and treating shoulder injuries in CrossFit, a physiotherapist can be an invaluable resource. Physiotherapists are trained healthcare professionals who specialize in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, including shoulder injuries.

In the context of CrossFit, a physiotherapist can provide a number of services to help athletes prevent and recover from shoulder injuries. Here are some of the ways in which a physiotherapist can help:

  1. Pre-injury screening: Before starting a CrossFit program, a physiotherapist can perform a screening to assess an athlete’s shoulder mobility, strength, and stability. This can help identify any pre-existing conditions or risk factors that may increase the likelihood of shoulder injury during CrossFit training.
  2. Technique assessment: Proper technique is crucial in preventing shoulder injuries in CrossFit. A physiotherapist can assess an athlete’s technique during overhead movements, such as snatches and overhead presses, and provide feedback on how to improve form to reduce the risk of injury.
  3. Injury assessment and diagnosis: If an athlete experiences shoulder pain or discomfort during CrossFit training, a physiotherapist can assess the injury and provide a diagnosis. This may involve imaging, such as an ultrasound or MRI, to identify the source of the pain.
  4. Treatment and rehabilitation: Once a diagnosis has been made, a physiotherapist can provide a tailored treatment plan to help the athlete recover from the injury. This may involve manual therapy, such as massage and joint mobilization, as well as exercises to improve mobility, strength, and stability in the shoulder.
  5. Return to sport planning: Once an athlete has recovered from a shoulder injury, a physiotherapist can help with the planning and implementation of a safe return to CrossFit training. This may involve a gradual increase in training intensity and volume, as well as ongoing monitoring of the shoulder to ensure that it is fully healed and ready for the demands of CrossFit.

It’s important to note that physiotherapy is not only beneficial for athletes who have already experienced a shoulder injury in CrossFit. Regular physiotherapy sessions can help prevent injuries from occurring in the first place, by improving shoulder mobility, strength, and stability, and by identifying any potential issues before they become more serious.

In addition to the specific services listed above, physiotherapists can also provide athletes with education and advice on how to prevent shoulder injuries in CrossFit. This may include tips on proper warm-up and stretching techniques, as well as advice on how to modify workouts to reduce the risk of injury.

Overall, working with a physiotherapist can be a key component in preventing and treating shoulder injuries in CrossFit. By providing individualized care and attention, physiotherapists can help athletes stay safe and injury-free while achieving their fitness goals.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

It depends on the severity and type of shoulder pain you are experiencing. In general, it’s best to avoid any exercises or movements that exacerbate the pain. Continuing to work out with shoulder pain can lead to further damage and potentially make the injury worse. It’s recommended that you consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or doctor, to determine the cause of your shoulder pain and the best course of action.

It’s possible to return to CrossFit after rotator cuff surgery, but it’s important to do so gradually and with the guidance of a healthcare professional. Your recovery timeline will depend on the type and severity of the surgery, as well as your individual progress. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s instructions and work with a physiotherapist to ensure that you are building strength and mobility in a safe and effective way.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, it’s important to pay attention to the severity and duration of the pain, as well as any accompanying symptoms. Signs that your shoulder pain may be serious include:

  • Severe or constant pain
  • Pain that occurs at rest or wakes you up at night
  • Limited range of motion or difficulty moving your shoulder
  • Swelling, redness, or warmth around the joint
  • Weakness or numbness in the arm or hand
  • Difficulty lifting objects or performing daily activities

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s recommended that you consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or doctor, for an assessment and diagnosis.

About Christine Pratt

Christine completed her Bachelors of Science in Human Kinetics and went on to complete her Masters in Physiotherapy. Since graduating, Christine has completed extensive post-graduate education including most recently receiving her Diploma of Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy and becoming a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapists, the highest credentials given to a Physiotherapist in Canada. She also has training in Gunn IMS, ImPACT Concussion Management, TMJ Dysfunction, and Vestibular Rehabilitation. Christine has had the opportunity to work closely with elite athletes and weekend warriors alike, including Canadian Champion Wakeboarders, OHL Hockey players, Division 1 College Basketball Players and World Class Wrestlers. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cycling, snowboarding, and CrossFit.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

Book Your Free Consult

Or Fill Out This Form & Get A Call Back

By submitting this form you are consenting to receiving appointment reminders, exercise plans, plans of care, and any relevant services from Integra Health Centre and painhero.ca. Your email will never be sold and you can unsubscribe at any time.