Crossfit Shoulder Injuries - ESP Physio

Crossfit Shoulder Injuries

September 10, 2019

Clinically at ESP we see a large number of Crossfitters, with shoulder injuries being one of the most common complaints. Crossfit exercises place a high demand on the shoulders, with a majority of the upper body movements involving pressing and pulling overhead.

To reduce the chance of injury, it is important that the shoulder has a high level of strength, mobility and stability. In everyday life, unless you have a physical job, the majority of people will hardly use overhead movements apart from reaching for the top shelf. Over time, this can reduce a person’s ability with regards to overhead strength, mobility and stability – in other words, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

It is rare for someone to possess all 3 of these key components however, a deficit in any whilst trying to perform complex overhead movements, will increase the chance of injury.      

Below is a list common Crossfit movements which involve the the upper body: 

Vertical Pushing Vertical Pulling 
Overhead press
Push press
Power/Push Jerk
Snatch/ Power Snatch
Handstand Push Ups (HSPU)
Kipping HSPU
Wall Balls Dips
Pull ups
Butterfly kips
Muscle ups 
Kipping Muscles ups 
Snatch/ Power Snatch
Clean/Power clean

Horizontal Pushing

Horizontal Pulling
Push ups
Bench press
Ring Rows

Please note: this is not an extensive list and some movements listed/not listed are dynamic, involving the full body with combinations of pushing and pulling. Nevertheless, the above list highlights the larger amount of over head vertical movements in comparison to below the shoulder horizontal movements. It particularly emphasises the lack of horizontal pulling movements.   

What can you do to help long term?

  1. Improve your management of volume and loading for overhead movements within a training week. 
  2. You can’t go wrong with getting strong. Improve strict/static strength movements.
  3. Increase horizontal pulling and dynamic shoulder assistance exercises to supplement Crossfit workouts.

How to improve strength, mobility and stability? 

Banded Super Front Rack

Shoulder Banded Distraction

Banded Pull Apart

Ball Self Soft Tissue Release

What should you do if you’re in pain? 

Book in for an appointment. At ESP Physio, we can undertake a full shoulder assessment, provide a diagnosis, help you understand what is going on, treat and help heal the injury before supporting you with a bespoke rehabilitation plan which would also help reduce the chance of future injuries. 

If you want to identify some issues you have and resolve them to become a better Crossfitter then call us on 01324 227 370 and book in for a physiotherapy assessment.