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How to Stay in Super Shape And Injury Free

How to Stay in Super Shape And Injury Free

More and more I am flooded with  questions from runners about the benefits of Cross -Training vs CrossFit -training. They want to know how to stay in super shape and injury free.

Tips on Yoga as Cross-Training
Yoga as Cross-Training


Tips on dangers of Cross-Fit training
Dangers of Cross-Fit Training

In short, they’re trying to figure out how to stay motivated without risking injury.

Chances are, you probably have these same types of questions. And you’ve probably even spent some time on blogs, forums and around the web, trying to get answers. Problem is, you keep getting conflicting answers, right?

For example, just pop onto any CrossFit and Cross -Training forum and ask this question: what is the difference between Cross -Training and CrossFit Training?

I guarantee that you’ll get conflicting advice. Some people will tell you that Cross- Training is really just any non-primary sport that you do to improve fitness for you primary sport (offseason activities, complimentary movements, etc). And it’s usually not at high intensity either (unless your primary sport is high intensity).

For example, runners will add swimming/bicycling/rowing workouts to keep their endurance high while reducing risk of injury and overtraining.

A Man is Working Out By Taking A Lap in The Pool
A Swim WorkOut
A man is working out by biking
A hard bike workout


A man in the middle of a rowing workout
An Intense rowing workout

In CrossFit, non-primary activities are your primary sport  and are done at  high intensity and often in a short amount of time.

A woman in the middle of a weight lifting workout
Weight lifting workout


Another group will advocate that real top peak fitness for the entire body can best be achieved through CrossFit -Training. Others will say CrossFit can cause injuries due to its high intensity nature and even cause kidney failure. And just to make it extra confusing, you might even get a few people telling you to that there is no real difference between Cross- Training and CrossFit  training.  That CrossFit is just a brand name or company that promotes a specific exercise philosophy and holds competitions—-and promotes cross training in its programs.

So You’re Left to Sort throughThe Wheat and The Chaff

If you’re new to the fitness community, it’s even harder because you don’t know who to trust. Because the truth is, there are plenty of wannabe personal trainers who want you to think they know what they’re talking about – but they’re just as clueless as everyone else. And in some cases, these types of people are offering downright dangerous advice.

That’s why I compiled this list of frequently asked questions.

I wanted to make sure you got the right advice from someone who’s successfully done the research  and has spoken to doctors, physical therapists, and coaches on the best ways for runners to keep in shape while still recovering from an injury. Read on…

Q. What is the real difference  between Cross -Training and Cross Fit -Training? A. Cross-training is alternating between two or more activities to stay fit. For example, a typical cross-training routine would be to run one day, swim the next, and bicycle another. Some competitive runners, for instance, run in place in water and swim to stay fit while nursing shin splints or other injuries. 1

CrossFit – training is basically a 20 minute workout that combines movements such as sprinting, jumping, rowing, bodyweight exercises, and climbing rope. The aim is to give you endurance, strength and explosiveness all in one tough workout. One of hallmarks of CrossFit- training is the Olympic style weightlifting they do in their workouts—including lots of heavy squats, shoulder presses, jerks, snatches, and deadlifts.

Q.   Can CrossFit cause Back injury?A.  One study about CrossFit athletes in a 2014 edition of the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine noted that 20% of the 386 that were surveyed said they’d sustained injuries doing CrossFit. Common back injuries  include herniated disks and lower-back spondylosis.2

As I have mentioned before,  healthy spinal discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae and allow the movement of the spine, they keep it flexible. However, an article on the danger of extreme physical extortion  on the spine  reveals the following:

“Putting too much stress on it through extreme physical exertion, heavy deadlifting or squatting without having good control over the lift, can damage those discs: they may bulge or break. What causes the pain is the slipped or ruptured disc, pressing on the nerve which leads to severe, excruciating pain, numbness, weaknesses, even loss of balance and bladder control.” 3

Q. Can CrossFit training cause KIDNEY DAMAGE? A. Research links popularity of the high intensity resistance training to ’20-fold’ spike in hospital admissions. 4

  • CrossFit has been linked to a breakdown of muscle tissue called Rhabdomyolysis.
  • This causes a damaging protein, myoglobin, to be released into the bloodstream
  • This can cause  kidney failure

Here is an account of an athlete who suffered kidney damage after a cross fit session.

From The Gym to The Hospital

Palmer took a break from exercise on Thursday, but the next morning he went for a long bike ride. The following day his arms were uncharacteristically sore and swollen, his urine the color of black tea that had been seeping for hours. Instead of suiting up in workout gear on Sunday, he found himself in a hospital gown hooked up to an IV drip that flushed his kidneys with more than nine liters of saline. As his creatine kinase levels—the amount of muscle protein broken down poisoning his blood stream— declined at the pace of a snail…5

Q. I like the idea of having my entire  body at peak performance. Is there a safer way to get the same results?
A. There are three basic components of total fitness: flexibility, strength, and cardiorespiratory or cardiovascular endurance. An example of this is the triathlon— events that combine swimming, running, and cycling. Triathlon show how one can reach an overall fitness level without risking serious injury such as kidney failure. The lesson that can be drawn from athletes who participate  in triathlons is that , “rotating to an exercise that uses different muscle groups will make it possible to keep going when one set of muscle groups tire.”

What this means is that for example you can go ahead and do strength training one day so you can improve the capacity of the muscles to perform, and swim the next day to increase endurance. This can be followed by something like Yoga to enhance flexibility.

Body is Given Chance to Adapt

One of the so called selling points of crossFit training is that the exercise are varied and intense so your total body gets a full work out. Here is the problem. Because there is no consistency, the body never really gets a chance to adapt and in most cases the muscles becomes tired and sore. When those muscles are pushed, injuries happen. The bottom line is that you are better off using cross training rather than CrossFit training to achieve  an overall fitness level

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At last, you finally know the TRUTH about Cross Training vs CrossFit. And that means that you can now train to reach overall fitness more confidently, because you’re armed with the knowledge you need to succeed. See you at the track.

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.



Paula Harper

Diabetes Forecast. 42.8 (Aug. 1989): p58.





6 thoughts on “How to Stay in Super Shape And Injury Free

  1. Nice post. Really nice website too. i have found your website very relevant from the selection of runner shoes don to my fitness. you are doing a very nice job here.

    1. Hi Diana,
      I think other than overusing tired muscles, another big cause of runner’s injury is having the wrong shoe wear. I’m glad that this post helped you understand what the right shoe is for you. Happy running.

  2. Really a nice post. About the story of Palmer, i think that means CrossFit can cause kidney failure. this explains why a friend spent a long time in the hospital.

    1. As I said, research links popularity of the high intensity resistance training to ’20-fold’ spike in hospital admissions.
      CrossFit has been linked to a breakdown of muscle tissue called Rhabdomyolysis. This causes a damaging protein, myoglobin, to be released into the bloodstream.
      This can cause kidney failure like the type that happened to Palmer. The best advice as always is too listen to your body. Your body will always tell you when it’s under unreasonable stress. It’s up to you to STOP before the stress results in an injury such as kidney damage.

  3. Your post is so motivating it tempts me to get my butt outdoors and start running today, I have considered starting to run, but afraid at my age of 59 years old it might be too much for my body to withstand.

    I do find crossfit training interesting, I do exercise daily with a little weight lifting and cardio.

    So how would a man my age get started to start running without harming themself, I am not sure that is even possible?

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Running is a great way to stay in shape, but running does put high levels of repetitive stress on the back and it affects the overall length of the spine. Some medical people have even gone as far as to describe running as ” a series of crashes”. The most common type of pain is muscular pain and strain and the pain comes as an ache that generally materializes in the lower back muscles before, during, or after running but it doesn’t go to the buttocks or legs. In short, people who have experienced back pain or haven’t ran in a while my want to commit themselves to an alternative like “running in water”. The buoyancy of water will put less pressure on the joints and spine, but give you the same benefit of running on land. One can also commit to a walking regimen. Walking doesn’t put any load on your spine, and with the right shoes you can get a good work out that will strengthen your heart.

      So to answer your question, Jeff, I wouldn’t start with running if you have experienced any kind of back pain. I would seek an alternative. Thanks for checking in.



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