Debunking back pain myths: How to prevent back pain during CrossFit | Iconic Fitness Dubai Marina JLT

Debunking back pain myths: How to prevent back pain during CrossFit

Debunking back pain myths How to prevent back pain during CrossFit

For the past 20 years, I’ve hardly met anyone who lives and trains well and suffers from back pain. A healthy and strong body usually has a healthy back. If you want to keep your back safe, live safe. Preventing back pain is not about wrapping yourself up in cotton wool and not participating in movements or any kind of training. In fact, non-activity will lead to back pain quicker than someone who trains often. Even if its under what’s regarded as a ‘bad’ program method or just eating healthy, you have to check all the boxes to go through life pain-free.

Back injuries are possible with any type of exercise method on the sports field or in the gym. CrossFit injuries are no different and can occur over a period of time due to a number of factors.


Let’s start by debunking some common misconceptions about injuries caused by CrossFit:

  1. CrossFit causes back injuries. Back injuries do not occur due to 1 faulty deadlift rep or a single rep with poor form; even if your deadlift form is not great, you’ll have to do many faulty reps before you do serious damage to your back. Our coaches at Iconic Fitness in Dubai Marina will prevent that from happening and guide you correctly through good coaching before that happens by laying a great foundation through instructing elemental methods first. Elements is a ramp-up phase where we instruct, coach, and guide newbies to the proper training and lifting techniques while they have the opportunity to learn and marinade over the CrossFit philosophy in a smaller group and train in a closely monitored environment.
  2. CrossFit forces you to overload your back. Back injuries do not occur because you did 1 rep in a back squat that was a bit heavy. Back squats are usually associated with compression pain and can cause back sensitivity during heavy-loaded back squat sessions. If you are squatting more than you can handle, your coach will notice a squat that is too heavy by the way your knees point inwards instead of outwards, your shoulders will round forward instead of a chest that stands out tall, and we will also notice that you are looking downwards instead of looking upwards or straight ahead of you. Your back won’t be the first thing that will fail on you, as you have many other weaker indicators that will give us as coaches signs that the weight will have to be adjusted before you injure yourself. If you find your hips rising faster than your chest and your chest dropping during the upward phase of your squat and the knee caving in, then its time to strip down the weight and establish the correct movement pattern first. Repetatively faulty movements over time can be very risky, but there is ample time to prevent injuries and readjust before things go seriously wrong.
  3. CrossFit forces you to train incorrectly. Back injuries do not occur because you went a bit deeper than normal during a squat. We as coaches will always motivate you that a larger range through a movement is more important than a heavy movement that prevents great movement range. So moving well and deeper in a squat is a great thing and assists the neuromuscular system in adapting to better movement patterns overall. 
  4. You are always in pain after a CrossFit session. Back injuries do not occur because you are new to cleans, snatching, or thrusting with a barbell. New movements can create new stimuli. Being a bit stiff due to trying something new is your body’s normal reaction to forcing adaptation. Stiffness in pain is not directly linked to injuries. This means a little pain does not mean you have a little injury. A lot of pain doesn’t mean that you are seriously injured. Sure, if you are not used to fast, powerful, or explosive movements, it will take time to adjust, but there is a difference between joint pain in the back and muscle stiffness.

Now that we have removed a few myths about back injuries associated with CrossFit, let’s move onto the main factors that do indeed cause back injuries over time.

The main point here to remember is that it happens over time. We all have a ticking clock, and when you injure yourself, it means your clock has run out. I like to refer to this as the ‘movement bank’.

Cash in your ‘movement bank ‘

Lifestyle choices can either maintain a decent balance in your ‘movement bank’ or drastically whittle down your balance in your ‘movement bank’. The movement bank is something I refer to as the number of years you have that you can move well. Everyone is born with decades of good movements. Let’s say we are all born with about 100 years of good movement. But those years are whittled down due to the lifestyle choices we make, and we eventually all arrive at that point where we get injured when our movement years, or movement bank, run dry. If you make healthy exercise and lifestyle choices, your money bank stays relatively full and depletes very slowly. Healthy lifestyle choices mean your money bank stays closer to 100 years. The less you care about good lifestyle choices, the faster your money bank runs dry and the faster your years tumble away from 100. A person who makes great lifestyle choices can possibly move well into their 60’s, and others who are not active and live unhealthy, inactive lifestyles filled with stress and lack of sleep may well lose the ability to move well into their early 30’s. 

4 Factors that deplete your movement bank :

  1. Lack of proper sleep—sleeping less than 7 hours on consecutive nights is seen as less than ideal. In fact research shows that individuals who sleep on average less than 6 hours per night struggle to increase in lean mass and adapt to training loads. Adapt your environment that suits your needs of sleeping 7 hours a night.
  2. Poor nutrition choices—processed foods, high-calorie diets with low nutritional value—affect your metabolism and fat percentage negatively. Stick to high-nutrient sources—are not processed, including protein, a fruit, a veggie, a grain or starch, and a glass of water in every meal, and you’ll do yourself a massive favor.
  3. Ill-discipline at the gym-improper form, loading too heavy, not moving at full range of movement during reps, not warming up correctly, lack of structured progressive overload in your resistance training. Listen to your coach and leave your ego at the door. Don’t aim to go too heavy too soon. A 5-pound increase over 4 weeks on a good lift is more than enough to keep you safe and still make great progress in your training.
  4. Stress – Stress is a killer. Not recovering from stress in your work life and stress in your personal life will eventually catch up with you. Exercise stress is the same, and you need proper recovery from your training sessions as well. Mobilizing, stretching, and varied intensity training days are key to recovery.

As you can see – most factors that lead to back injuries in CrossFit actually occur outside of the CrossFit box. Yes, proper lifting techniques need to be coached, and your posture does need to be corrected by the coach. Systematic progressive overloading  systems need to be implemented, and programs can be adjusted to suit the client’s needs, goals, and abilities.  But most factors leading to back injuries in the gym happen over time and are largely due to lifestyle choices that affect their abilities to move well, recover between sessions, and how the body can handle stress.

A healthy body usually has a healthy back. If you want to keep your back safe, live safe.

Embark on a rewarding and exhilarating CrossFit experience with confidence and excitement by joining the Iconic Fitness 30-day CrossFit trial. Discover the perfect blend of safety and enjoyment as you kickstart your CrossFit journey with us!