Crossfit: Is it safe for kids?

Cross-fit is a hardcore fitness craze sweeping the country.

It incorporates Olympic style weight lifting, and a constantly changing series of movements, all done at a high pace.

You'll find children as young as seven and seniors in their 70s in crossfit gyms.

"Everybody, no matter what skill level they're or what condition they're in, they can fit right in," says Blake Prime.

Prime is the head crossfit trainer and co-owner of RPM elite sports in Hoover.{} Men, women and children come to do crossfit. "We train athletes from seven-years-old," says Prime.That's where Dr. Reed Estes, chief of UAB sports medicine and a physician with Children's of Alabama sees a potential problem. "Some of these children are not mentally or psychologically ready to handle that peer pressure, that environment. They may be pushed beyond where they should be physiologically, where they are in their growth process," says Estes.Dr. Estes wants parents to understand the harm that can come from youth participating in this kind of high intensity workout known as crossfit.

Younger aged children still have open growth plates. Bones aren't completely developed. Overuse can lead to bigger problems. "You're trying to play 'catch up' with that constantly, and with that extra dynamic of 'overuse' and just compounding that upon itself, then over time that can be a harmful thing," says Estes. "It can actually damage those growth plates, they can stunt the growth, it can be dangerous in the form of creating these overuse injuries."Dr. Lyle Cain is an orthopedic surgeon with Andrews Sports Medicine and is a team physician for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team.

Cain warns injuries can come quickly in this fast-paced workout.{}

"Doing too much can cause injuries, and we've certainly seen a lot of that from a lot of different workout programs," says Cain. "Because it is a rapid immersion, you kind of jump into a program the first week, all comers, all ages, and you get into this very competitive group atmosphere. I think we tend to see people overdoing it more than with other workouts."The most common injuries."Shoulder injuries, specifically to the top of the bicep muscle," says Cain. "I think this is becausethey do a lot of body weight exercises, whether it's pull ups, kettle bell throws, anything that's a ballistic jerking motion with the arm sometimes can injure the shoulder if you're doing too much weight, too many repetitions, if you're fatigued."And, another worry, quick immersion that comes with crossfit can be draining. "The concern about the immersion programs where you jump in quickly, and get drained, is that when you are fatigued, you are much more likely to get an injury."At RPM, Blake Prime says trainers work to monitor each of their members, to make sure they aren't over-doing it. "We like to be in communication: 'how's your body doing?' 'how's your body feeling?' 'be honest with us' so if we need to adapt our program in any way, we can," says Prime.For Prime, it's a matter of finding a balance. "We're always trying to get them to maximize their performance on a daily basis. Now, if they are fatigued in a way that can hamper their performance and that can lead to an injury. That's when it's our job as trainers to step in and correct technique, or a modification they can do, just to keep them the healthiest, the safest,{} but still maximize their potential every single day," says Prime.

Prime also says each person who has never done crossfit is required to take a beginner's introduction course to help bring individuals up to speed.