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CrossFit Requests Retraction of Erroneous Injury Paper

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ByCrossFitMay 27, 2019

On May 17, 2019, CrossFit, Inc. sent a letter to the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine (OJSM) requesting the retraction of a recently published paper, “Likelihood of Injury and Medical Care Between CrossFit and Traditional Weightlifting Participants.” The letter states that the paper should be retracted because it “is beset with scientific error, cites retracted studies that contained fabricated data and inaccurately cites other studies concerning our CrossFit® brand.”

The study’s abstract and stated purpose were as follows:

CrossFit is a popular weightlifting sport, with participants who report significant improvements in physical health; however, others argue that CrossFit exposes participants to an increased risk and severity of injury. We address this through a retrospective cohort study.

The purpose of this study was to compare the likelihood of self-reported injury and severity in CrossFit and traditional weightlifting in the previous 2 years. We hypothesized that CrossFit participants would have a higher 2-year likelihood of injury and medical care compared with a traditional weightlifting cohort.

CrossFit’s letter notes that, as with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and American College of Sports Medicine‘s false and baseless publications concerning the CrossFit® brand, this paper is “beset with scientific error.” For example, the OJSM paper cites the NSCA’s fraudulent research on CrossFit (the NSCA’s Devor study), despite that research being first corrected for containing debunked injury claims and then retracted years ago.

Additionally, the authors fail to define the paper’s fundamental terms, misrepresent their sources, and do not control for exposure. The paper’s conclusions, therefore, are not supported, and its data is meaningless. The publication serves no purpose but to propagate the NSCA’s distortion of the scientific record.

In conclusion (and of relevance to CrossFit affiliates), CrossFit’s letter notes:

Finally, the authors did not properly define what constituted engaging in CrossFit® brand training, either. They state that subjects in the CrossFit group, “self-identified as practicing a CrossFit routine.” This would include people self-identifying as CrossFit practitioners who work out at commercial gyms alone, without supervision. As the authors admit, “Furthermore, in the study by Weisenthal et al, injury rate was significantly decreased when a trainer was involved (P = .028). The use of a trainer was not investigated in our study … Perhaps a CrossFit trainer would be able to identify any alteration in form and, thus, protect the athlete from injury.”

Therefore even if the Paper properly cited sources and defined its terms, its central findings would have little relevance for licensed CrossFit® affiliate gyms and their classes, which are always led by CrossFit, Inc. credentialed trainers.

Neither the paper’s authors nor the journal editors have responded to this letter. We hope they recognize the gravity of these errors and retract the paper swiftly. CrossFit, Inc. will continue to respond promptly and decisively to all inaccurate claims regarding the safety and efficacy of the training provided by its licensed affiliates and trainers.

Comments on CrossFit Requests Retraction of Erroneous Injury Paper

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Nathan JenkinsMay 28th, 2019 at 12:48 am

For the life of me I cannot understand why the Devor paper continues to be cited. As a retracted paper it is no longer a part of the scientific record. It is not curable. It does not exist.

Nathan JenkinsMay 28th, 2019 at 12:49 am

*citable

Jeremiah DiPernaMay 28th, 2019 at 2:34 am

No Before and After pictures?

Russ GreeneMay 28th, 2019 at 6:20 pm

I submitted the following comment to a reporter today: The damage caused by the National Strength and Conditioning Association's fake research continues. NSCA's fraudulent paper on CrossFit has been cited multiple times this year, despite its 2017 retraction and 2015 correction. Beyond citing retracted research, this new paper also misrepresents cited work, does not define basic terms, and fails to control for exposure. It's a complete mess. Legitimate research on CrossFit has reached a near unanimous conclusion: 'The injury incidence rate associated with CrossFit training was low, and comparable to other forms of recreational fitness activities.' (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28085123) That the authors in this study reached a different conclusion indicates their own shoddy methodology, not a real finding. We expect and hope that the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine will retract this paper shortly. It is a shame it was ever published. Each day it remains in print is a new smirch on the journal's reputation.

Matthew SouzaMay 29th, 2019 at 4:39 am

Thank you for the continued efforts in exposing NSCA for their bogus 'research' and literature! They have no place in exercise science.

Shakha GillinMay 29th, 2019 at 8:06 pm

This “study” is not science, it's a random “survey”. It’s embarrassing that anyone would even publish this. It’s junk. The scientific method is not used anywhere in this survey. I find it hard to believe that there was a null hypothesis when reading the survey questions, emphasizing nutritional supplements and osteoporosis. Was that a part of the null hypothesis or were the authors hoping to find a p value under O.05 to create and claim a causal relationship? There are no definitions. Injury is not defined. Weightlifting is used interchangeably with weight training. Were they asking about individuals who weight lift, or go to the globo gym and use the machines and 5 pound weights? My favorite is that unique links were not established for survey responders. So one person could have replied 50 times. Or 454. There was no IRB approval. Then there is the obvious flaw of recall bias. And selection bias. This “survey” has the methodology, accuracy and scientific rigor of an evite or insta poll (“do you like my outfit yes/no?”), not a study. To make claims based on a survey lacking control or definitions is dangerous. Publishing it is embarrassing to the scientific and medical community.

Tim WyattJune 1st, 2019 at 2:29 pm

I, for one, am not surprised in this day-and-age of loose ethics and lazy work that a paper such as this is published. But, I am grateful to all who call it out. Thanks to CrossFit we have a living example of doing the right thing.

Peter ShawJune 1st, 2019 at 5:13 pm

A deliberately vague attempt to find a problem with CrossFit. It's as if they wrote the Discussion beforehand...