James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 9.97'
Flow: 28300 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond

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Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 10:06pm
Low Tide: 4:12am

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The CrossFit delusion

In its December issue, Outside published “Is CrossFit Killing Us?” The piece set out to address, and quantify, the risk of injury associated with the popular fitness phenomenon. CrossFit entails a high-intensity regimen of complex weightlifting and ballistic bodyweight exercises, and stories of people getting hurt seemed to be everywhere. In much shorter supply, however, was hard data backing up the numerous anecdotes and testimony.

Arguably the hottest flashpoint of controversy in the story centered around a study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University and published in the November edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR). That study, which was intended to assess the efficacy of CrossFit workouts, not the rate of injury, included a stat indicating that 16 percent of the participants had dropped out due to “overuse or injury.”

The CrossFit community went berserk. While many commenters chimed in about their own injuries from workouts, many more criticized both the statistic and the study itself. Lengthy rebuttals appeared in CrossFit Journal—the organization’s newsletter. One of CrossFit’s chief PR people, Russell Berger, rang up the study director, Professor Steven Devor, and grilled him until the scientist refused to talk to him any more. The upshot was a collective pile-on attempting to discredit the study, its directors—and Outside—while spinning public opinion away from the idea that the insanely popular workout program was any more hazardous than jogging in your neighborhood.

And yet, no one was making up the stories about people getting hurt. So, what was the deal? Was CrossFit inherently dangerous? And if so, were the hordes of newbies with beach-body dreams flocking to CrossFit “boxes” aware of the risks?


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