Come At Me, Coach Volume III: High Rep Box Jumps?

If you were wondering how you might go about destroying the strongest and thickest tendon in your body, a simple way to achieve this feat would be to perform high rep box jumps.  In this “Come At Me Coach” installment, I call upon the coaches to convince me (and my surgically-repaired Achilles) as to why it’s necessary to have your clients boing boing in repetition despite the inherent risk of injury.

I started writing this post a week ago with every intention of being really persuasive as to why high rep box jumps are fucking stupid and dangerous.  Then something happened.  Last Friday, CrossFit Games athlete Kate Rawlings ruptured her left Achilles during the box jump portion of Filthy 50.  She had surgery yesterday.  I guess I don’t have to soapbox this one as hard. 

Kate Rawlings: CrossFit's most recent box jump Achilles casualty

Box jumps began as “depth jumps” or “the shock method” by the late Professor Yuri Verkhoshansky in the former Soviet Union.  The athlete drops down from a specified height and subsequently jumps up onto a box as seen here by Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat:

The muscle contraction resulting from the resistance created by the landing is similar to weight training while teaching the muscles to become faster in switching between a force yielding contraction to force generating contraction (stretch-shortening cycle).  It’s basically some explosive shit and is fucking badass.

High Jumper, 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist Valeriy Brumel

Once the USSR Olympic athletes gained success from this training, it spread worldwide and became misused and renamed as “plyometrics”.  Enter the box jump.  The stress created by bounding on and off a box is not very different from what is experienced during depth jumps.  When done properly and in moderation it’s an effective training tool, but in a high-rep situation your body will only take so much of this stress before it breaks.  Then your Achilles looks like delicious spaghetti.

Verkhoshansky recommended the reps and height to be based upon the athlete’s capability.  Regardless, he suggested no more than 4 sets of 10 reps (with as much quality and rest as possible due to the stress of the movement and potential tissue damage).  You see that picture of D Wade doing depth jumps up there?  In this video, his strength coach says he has Wade do no more than 3 sets of 6 reps.  That’s it.  Keep in mind: Dwayne Wade is a better fucking athlete than you.

"06 Finals MVP? Meh. But what's his Fran time?"

“The guy who invented the movement says don’t do more than 4 sets of 10?  Fuck you, Professor Verk.  You don’t know shit.  This is CrossFit.  We are elite.”  And so, we charge on with our stupidity and people get fucked up.  In fact, there are estimates of 80-90 occurrences of Achilles ruptures resulting from high-rep box jumps in CrossFit dating back to 2007.  Of note, 2011 Open Qualifier WOD 11.2 yielded an estimated 20-25 incidents of Achilles rupture.

Perhaps those figures are exaggerations.  Or are they?  Data is everywhere and doubters can take a look here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  Welcome to the club, Kate.

Roman, you're a fucking dick.

Have I given room for a counterpoint?  Maybe not.  I think box jumps in general are a valuable thing (specifically, max height box jumps).  Coaches should become aware that doing them in such high numbers may get your clients injured.  Injuries are a part of life and sport (real sports- not exercising).  But getting injured during training is fucking gayer than trees.  


My intent for this post was to wake people up about the injuries in CrossFit caused by high rep box jumps.  I had no clue this was an issue until I got injured last summer.  It would be great if shit could change and fewer people got hurt.  That will require affiliates to stop programming high rep box jumps.  I’m not holding my breath on that one, though.  What’s up, coaches?  Post to comments.

  1. #1 by Jack Mayhoffer on December 7, 2011 - 8:57 AM


    > …getting injured during training is fucking gayer than trees.

  2. #2 by Jeanette on December 7, 2011 - 9:19 AM

    Great read Epic

  3. #3 by Jen on December 7, 2011 - 9:21 AM


  4. #4 by Jeb on December 7, 2011 - 9:22 AM

    So is your issue only when athletes nump back off the box? What if they’re stepping down? I agree that high rep repeated bounding is dangerous, but I feel like high rep jump up step down is much less stress on the body

    • #5 by EPIC on December 7, 2011 - 10:04 AM

      I popped on the landing. Seems to be the same for most. The problem with stepping down is it’s slow as fuck. Safe, but once the metcon starts, safe doesn’t win.

      • #6 by BoomChoom on December 7, 2011 - 11:03 AM

        I consider myself a bit of a pussy when it comes to achilles ruptures. No…it hasn’t happened yet…but I am not about to let it happen. I don’t bound…I jump or step down and then reload. You’re right Epic…it’s slow as fuck…that’s why I destrominate the rest of the wod.

        • #7 by Dene on December 8, 2011 - 12:34 AM

          Destrominating half of a metcon still means that you cheese-dicked the other half. Justify your step downs any way you want, no one wants to lose by going slow.

          • #8 by Dan Daugherty on December 9, 2011 - 11:24 AM

            Are we seriously talking about winning and losing in a freaking workout? If we are, winning to me means I’m able to walk out under my own power with the potential of being better off than I was when I walked in the door. Losing is injuring myself because I didn’t listen to my body or brought my ego in with me when I started the metcon.

            • #9 by Dene on December 12, 2011 - 10:42 AM

              Oh, so if winners are the guys that just finish the workout then I assume you also support EVERYONE getting a completion trophy so we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. If you need me, I’ll be on the leaderboard while you are talking about how how great it was to “feel the burn.”

              • #10 by Dan Daugherty on December 13, 2011 - 9:10 AM

                Dude, it’s exercising. I love what Glassman has done to make circuit training with heavy shit more attainable to the masses but it’s still just exercising. I use crossfit to prepare myself for winning at things outside of the gym

          • #11 by Tony No Bread on December 13, 2011 - 5:14 PM

            I have the best excuse for going slow with box jumps. It’s because I fucking suck at them!

            Besides, I’d rather watch a tree suck off another one any day of the week then do box jumps. Got Wood?

  5. #12 by AJ on December 7, 2011 - 9:27 AM

    Completely agree with this post. The question I have, is it the eccentric contraction on the jump off while landing back on the ground that is the biggest problem? If that is the case simply stepping off the box opposed to jumping off would decrease injury risk.

    Also, Roman is a dick.

  6. #13 by Andy Gallego on December 7, 2011 - 9:28 AM

    There does seem to be quite a few injuries from high rep box jumps, especially amongst copetitive level crossfitters…especially amongst competitve level crossfitters who overtrain. Can you get hurt following mainsite programming? Fuck yeah you can! But its no more dangerous than a runners world program or a bodybuilding program from flex magazine….or tackleball. The injuries we are seeing most often stem from athletes who overtrain, do not dedicate time to mobility and warm-up, refuse to scale, or fucking do their own programming because they think they know whats best for them. Then they get hurt because they are using shitty form and too much weight. The box jumps, sdlhps and kipping pullups aren’t the main problem. Its the way they are being used. For instance, and this isn’t a low blow man, just the facts….Epic you competed in the x-corp race…and fucking crushed it I might add. Although you felt fine afterwards your body overall was in a fatigued state and had no business going to battle with the rest of the CTO boys in a metcon just a few days later. Yes the box jumps were what shredded up that achillies of yours but there was an underlying issue. The good thing is you were smart enough to figure out how to modify your training and you learned from it, you are recovering well, and beastmodaldomains actually spawned from the inury. Just train smart and if you don’t know what smart is, dedicate some time to finding a reptuable coach.

    • #14 by EPIC on December 7, 2011 - 10:02 AM

      Not a low blow at all. I was severely overtrained when I popped my Achilles. I survived the 11.2 WOD without incident (195 reps – 482 total score). I popped on the 165th rep of a metcon months later when overtrained. In either case, I believe the reps were too high.

      Kate Rawlings popped on the 28th rep. She claims she was not overtrained and was properly warmed up. I don’t know if I believe that.

      Regardless of overtraining, the data remains.

    • #15 by n00b on December 8, 2011 - 12:46 AM

      This brings up a great point of “Why did the coaches allow Epic to train when they knew he was overtrained?”

      You state that Epic was smart enough to modify his own training yet he had no business doing a metcon. So, should the coaches have stepped in to try to keep him from getting hurt or is that just too much to ask from a coach? And the argument of “well I tried to get him to rest” is a BS response. “I tried” is about as effective in keeping an Achilles healthy as it is in the Penn State locker room when trying to keep boys from getting sexually assaulted. Too soon?

  7. #16 by Matt on December 7, 2011 - 9:38 AM

    Any comments on whether the placement of the foot on top of the box is a factor in the injuries?

    • #17 by EPIC on December 7, 2011 - 10:06 AM

      The accepted opinion is foot completely on the box is more safe. The issue with most who get injured is they pop when landing on the ground. Going fast, it seems the heel rarely contacts the ground which causes a great deal of stress on the achilles (because it acts as the main shock absorber).

  8. #18 by Brett Andrus on December 7, 2011 - 9:39 AM

    Big question – Does the risk outweigh the reward?
    Epic makes a great point, that the risk could be reduced with the same “plyometric” training effect.
    Does this outweigh the benefit of a higher FGB score?
    Fuck no, it doesn’t (Unless that’s what you’re training for).

    • #19 by EPIC on December 7, 2011 - 10:09 AM

      Good point. I am recovering and prepping for the Open Qualifiers. If we see another WOD with a shit load of box jumps (like 11.2) we’ll see a shit load of achilles ruptures again. I am really interested in not having to go through surgery and a 6-9 month recovery again.

  9. #20 by Drywall on December 7, 2011 - 9:39 AM

    Andrew Wilson may be dead, but his research lives on!

  10. #21 by Freddo on December 7, 2011 - 10:07 AM

    Gay trees? I don’t get it. But…ok.

    Yeah, I agree with you on this one. High reps box jumps are not really necessary. The intensity of performing a few at a time is good enough, even for beast like me.

    When doing a WOD like Filthy 50, or any other high rep WOD, I opt for the wuss way out by spacing the reps with rests in between. Resting long enough to give me time to go through a body check. One tends not to feel much during the adrenaline rush, and not above telling the coach to shut the fuck up, I know when have to 3..2..1..GO!

    Of course CF is a sport, injuries will occur, but it doesn’t mean that we have to assholes about what we do with our bodies.

    • #22 by Don't Judge on December 8, 2011 - 12:50 AM

      Yes, gay trees. It’s funny. But not like real gays, because they are just gay.

      And exercise is not a sport.

      • #23 by Freddo on December 19, 2011 - 9:38 PM

        With all due respect Epic…But I just can’t let this go…” But not like real gays, because they are just gay.” Fuck if I understand that one either.

        Let’s see…I’m going to start associating “hetero” with “funny”, weakness, weirdness, pathological, wrong, inferior, and “..rather be considered anything but…”. I think that’s kinda funny too. I bet after a while you might think otherwise. Ah! The underpinnings of justified sexism.

        Also, about CF not being a sport, I suppose I agree with you to a point, on that one. I consider it exercise as well. Yet although not I’m an athlete by any means, I can say that it’s difficult lower my competitive spirit. So I wouldn’t mention that CF is just exercise to the likes of a Froning, Spealler, Holmberg, Cleaver, etc., they might use you to practice their box jumps.

  11. #24 by Matt Kellogg on December 7, 2011 - 10:18 AM

    Totally in agreement . . . why? Ruptured mine in 11.2 as well. I was using the “rest on top of the box” method, bouncing off the floor and popped it on the landing. Sound familiar? Eight months later, still not able to get more than one double under going. Not really worth the 30 seconds or so I would have saved that round.

  12. #25 by Ashley D on December 7, 2011 - 10:27 AM

    Epic, good post. Definitely not somethig I had even considered before. Great. Now I’m paranoid.

  13. #26 by Fern on December 7, 2011 - 10:42 AM

    i can agree and disagree with this. I played basketball for more than 20 years at a competitive level (Div I) and my wife did the safe in volleyball. i think it’s safe to say that we have both done a fair amount of jumping. so you are saying “who fucking cares fern!”. my point is this, you can do high reps if you take care of your body. do you want to know what the trainer and coach said when i told them my achilles was hurting in college……you are not practicing today and you will be in the training room for the rest of the week taking care of that shit aka you are over trained. Do people put together terrible programming with ludiculous amounts of programming? YES! is it smart training? NO! Doing “Kelly” every Friday is about as smart as sticking your penis in the electrical socket (reference Tosh.O) I think (and what I think means jack shit!) that this is a combination of bad programming, over training, and neglecting to take care of your shit! I don’t know anyone who has blown out their achilles other than Epic, but I find it hard to believe that they were all well rested, had great ROM, and their tissue were slidding and glidding as they were meant to. over time that shit catches up with you. I had a scare a couple months ago where I though both of mine were just going to explode from just walking around……so I took two weeks off. Don’t be a dumbass! Crossfitters are impatient when it comes to results, which generally leads to injury and set backs. Know your body, listen to it and train smarter not harder.

  14. #27 by Dallas on December 7, 2011 - 10:42 AM

    Thanks for being another voice of (partial)sanity in this crazy world. When I first heard about the first CF Games, I said, “this will be the end of all the good that CF has done. Everyone will lose the distinction between training and testing.” I hate to say it, but I was right. Doing FGB or Filthy Filfty is a test of fitness, sure, but a *terrible* training tool. When your training looks just like your testing, it’s only a matter of time til you’re broken. Can you imagine NFL players hitting each other in practice like they do during games?

    • #28 by Johnny Utah on December 7, 2011 - 11:28 AM

      Who cares if they are the biggest, strongest, fastest athletes in the world.

      NFL players are not EELEEET you see….

  15. #29 by sean on December 7, 2011 - 10:55 AM

    Given how many people have done box jumps, other high rep jumping we do (double unders), and other sports that have high rep jumping I would be first concerned with the other factors involved before the movement.

    Overtraining is very common in crossfit due to environment that encourages pushing through pain(injury) and the ego factor of many involved that resting is for the weak. How many people have said’ its my rest day but I want to lift a little or do something quick’? This factor alone I believe accounts for most of the injuries that are found.

    Poor movement patterns also contribute; similar to the SLAP tears that are seen which can be attributed to poor mechanics in the high rep kipping pullup and the ring dip. The landing in the box jump causes a massive load on the body and without the discipline to land correctly similar to high rep air squats where poor mechanics are common, injuries will happen because our body will do what it takes to control the torque we are creating some way. In this case loading the knees and the subsequent tendons and ligaments instead of the muscles involved. Do your knees roll in when you jump up? They do it also when you land. Fix it.

    Do other sports with similar stressors have the same problem? What I mean is sports like volleyball and basketball have high rates of this injury? How many actual injuries of this type have occurred in crossfit? Not anecdotes but total.

    The box jump is a useful movement in crossfit but anything can be bad for you if done poorly and without regard to a person’s condition.

  16. #30 by Drywall on December 7, 2011 - 11:00 AM

    Simply put: the biggest issue with box jumps is that most people do not even realize there are overtraining and volume risks and therefore do not know how to take precautions until it is too late.

    Wait, what am I saying? Shit fuck cock balls drank’in.

    • #31 by BoomChoom on December 7, 2011 - 11:06 AM

      Yeah…what he said.

  17. #32 by Cupcake on December 7, 2011 - 11:28 AM

    Good to know. Training injuries do suck, says my hamstring and rotator cuff.
    Dig into 75 reps of jumping squats with 65lbs on your back next time. Shoulder hasn’t been the same since that little gem.

    • #33 by n00b on December 8, 2011 - 12:55 AM

      Who thought that was actually a good idea when they programmed that? I may be new, but even I know that is fucking stupid.

    • #34 by Andy on December 8, 2011 - 10:10 PM

      What exactly were you holding the 65 lbs with? Ruck? Vest? Bar? I too am curious on that one…

      • #35 by Cupcake on December 15, 2011 - 9:24 AM

        Barbell. Follow with 200m walking lunges and take the elevator the next day.

  18. #36 by CM on December 7, 2011 - 11:28 AM

    Interesting post, and while I certainly agree that there is at least some elevated risk involved with “high rep” box jumps, I think that too much weight is being placed on the “estimated 20-25 incidents of Achilles rupture,” that occurred during 11.2. 26,000 people complete the open, which means that at least that many completed WOD 11.2. 25 out of 26,000 is less than one tenth of one percent. Hard to call that anything more than random distribution. It is certainly not a pattern.

    • #37 by brady on December 7, 2011 - 11:33 AM

      If someone discovered that one tenth of people doing box jumps hearts explode would we change our thinking? Many other options

      • #38 by CM on December 7, 2011 - 11:45 AM

        One tenth? Of course I would stop. One tenth of one percent? No way. Numbers that small mean that the cause lies within the individual case, not the method.

        • #39 by Fern on December 7, 2011 - 11:55 AM

          80% of people that are “runners” get hurt every year and we still do that! 90% of statistics are made up , but i’ll still reference them! and 80% of the time it works every time!

          • #40 by CM on December 7, 2011 - 7:36 PM

            Lies. Damned lies. And statistics.

          • #41 by Anthony Mayo on December 13, 2011 - 7:00 PM

            I was a avid runner prior to crossfit…ran over 100 miles a week with no days off and raced 100 milers. Never got injured. I guees it pays to be in the 10%

  19. #42 by Fern on December 7, 2011 - 11:29 AM

    Drywall is correct, ignorance is bliss. CF coaches in general should be hammering their clients from the moment they walk in the door about mobility, rest, being smart before they every address movement. I think it is safe to say, and this could be controversial (which I know Epic doesn’t like), people who are not conditioned will initially be over trained if their coaches are not on top of it. the flip side of this argument is sample size. as CF grows their will be more injuries simply because your sample size is now larger, but what does the percentage look like????

  20. #43 by brady on December 7, 2011 - 11:31 AM

    100% in agreement and have heard this numerous times before… we use many movement in either bad speed choices or bad rep schemes. Xfit has become a name and measured by its past stern WODs. If fitness evolves why is a WOD from 2003 still effective? Train to be an athlete, not good at fitness

    • #44 by Ashley D on December 7, 2011 - 11:56 AM

      Why is a WOD from 2003 still effective? Really?

  21. #45 by holden on December 7, 2011 - 12:27 PM

    I understand why this cause is close to your heart, but isn’t there some inherent risk (albiet not as traumatic and difficult to recover from) in many of the crossfit movements, including but not limited to the Olympic lifts? What I’m trying to say is if you took any movement, isolated it and looked at its occurrence of injury, wouldn’t the stats be alarming given the number of people crossfitting now?

    • #46 by EPIC on December 7, 2011 - 1:12 PM

      The “people can die in the shower” theory is fine and I see your point, but there is a reason I have selected this movement for critique over others. I also did a post about SDHP/supraspinatus injuries and Kipping Pullups/SLAP tears, so it’s not as though I’m just bitching because I fucked my shit up on box jumps.

      Numerous factors play into any movement that might cause injury, but box jumps seem to have a high occurrance of injuries related. Hence the post.

  22. #47 by lianio on December 7, 2011 - 12:43 PM

    Thanks for this post. It definitely has me thinking twice about programming.

  23. #48 by Lisa on December 7, 2011 - 1:11 PM

    I am one of the 20-25 who ruptured their achilles during 11.2 and it has fucked me for the past 8 months. Worst injury by far that I have EVER had and I have torn my PCL,ACL have a meniscal tear broken pretty much everything including my neck but I was able to recover and come back from all of those injuries. This thing is still plaguing me – It hurts all the time, I still can’t run very well and forget about playing any sports that require quick lateral movements. I Strongly agree with this post and that high rep box jumps should not ever be programmed. IT blew my mind that after so many ruptures in 11.2 they still prorgrammed high rep box jumps at the games. Glassman and Castro are idiots.

    • #49 by EPIC on December 7, 2011 - 1:21 PM

      You and comment #16 (Matt Kellogg) are two more cases that were not documented from 11.2. Hmmm… I wonder what the actual total was.

      Meanwhile, people want to talk about percentages and call it “random distribution. not a pattern”. Complacency is the shit!

      • #50 by Mike Bolton on December 7, 2011 - 2:49 PM

        Actual total? Good luck finding that. The vast majority won’t end up on the internet.

  24. #51 by VP on December 7, 2011 - 1:20 PM

    Great post Epic….Interesting how the overtraining issue continues to come up. But come on guys really….? How many of the Crossfit Games athletes are not overtrained. How many WOD’s do they do over the time period of the games? Is that not overtraining? The mentality as a whole in Crossfit is push through the pain, and that injuries are sweet i.e. Rhabdo, ripped hands, Pukie….It’s all fun and games until one of our achilles ruptures….Achilles ruptures suck ass 100% of the time, all the time….

    • #52 by Matt on December 7, 2011 - 1:22 PM

      VP, not sure you can compare barfing or getting a blister to ripping your achilles….

      • #53 by VP on December 7, 2011 - 1:35 PM

        You’re right, absolutely not as serious but still an injury…still end up as trophy pictures on people’s facebook…why not just wear gloves…..or not program a boat load of box jumps….

        • #54 by Cliff Dyer on December 7, 2011 - 3:45 PM

          Something about rippetoe and purses, I think.

          • #55 by Ashley D on December 7, 2011 - 3:51 PM


          • #56 by Matty on January 7, 2012 - 10:50 PM

            yes, lol!

  25. #57 by Fern on December 7, 2011 - 1:49 PM

    Over training will always be an issue, and always has been. Crossfit isn’t the first group of people doing the same shit that created over training. if you pick your head up out of your rice bowl and look around you will see simlar trends in every other sport, except Curling, those fuckers never get hurt, they are amazing!!!! there are over training injuries in professional sports every year on every team that are NOT attributed to trauma. hamstring tears, ACL/MCL etc. yes Box jumps in high reps CAN cause injury, that isn’t enough to say they WILL. i understand the concern here and i take it into consideration when programming for my gym, but i’m not convinced that box jumps are the sole cause of ruptures. and for the record, it is ok to be over trained for very brief periods in a sport. As long you as an athlete understand that ,and have a plan for full recovery and adjusted training, it should not result in injury.

    • #58 by Andy Gallego on December 7, 2011 - 9:40 PM

      “show me an athlete who has never overtrained and I will be looking at an athlete who is no where near his/her potential.”

      Kobe is tired and beat down in the midst of playoff runs, OPT gets adrenal fatigue pushing his body past the limits of safety trying to hang with a fresh crop of top CrossFit Athletes and I wreck my body trying to be like them. When you start thinking of CrossFit as a sport in becomes a little bit more dangerous. A lot of people post on this site because they are the standard CrossFit Haters. Meanwhile they are doing some bastardized form of CrossFit that suits his/her ego….I mean needs. Every movement is dangerous and 200 box jumps for time will fuck some people up for sure. I think the reality is the box jumps in high volume exposes existing issues. Gillian- bucket tear of the meniscus during 11.2. Surgeon was quoted as saying “that meniscus was ready to go” the box jumps just made it happen. Okay so that means 200 meter repeats, a friendly game of beach volleyball, or jumping of the swing set when playing with her son should have been avoided too.

      I just saw a guy blow his asshole out on tosh .o trying to back squat heavy. Maybe I should just stick to machine weights and step class….although I’ll probably strain my groin trying to do a side stradddle on the step. I would love to see the programming of some of the peeps the sit around publicly pick crossfit programming apart. The only person that really seems to bring up good points is Robb Wolf. Everyone else is just a garage gym hero talking about how their secret programming is the shit and how Glassman is crazy and doesn’t know
      shit and CrossFit is lame and Tony Budding is a lackey, Reebok is the devil, blah blah blah. Some things in life can be effective and dangerous at the same time.

  26. #59 by Justin Pearl on December 7, 2011 - 2:05 PM

    Lots of great comments in here, not much left to say, so I’ll just say this: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

    If you’re tired and worn out (i.e. possibly overtrained) and pushing your body through a WOD, and moving too fast to be able to hear what it’s telling you, for the love of God, at least slow down a little. A few seconds off your time aren’t worth the injury risk.

    I was warming up for a deadlift WOD, and had a little back pain after the first rep. If I weren’t stupid, I’d have stopped then, instead of doing six more (at which point the pain was unbearable). I also probably wouldn’t have a severe L5-S1 disc herniation that I may or may not need surgery for. Hopefully PT will do the trick, but either way, if I can ever touch my toes again I’ll be happy. Right now I’d be ecstatic to just be able to sit down for >10 minutes at a time without my leg going numb.

    Don’t be stupid. Pride and anger (or “anger and fuck yeah”) are awesome training tools, but don’t ever stop listening to what your body’s telling you.

  27. #60 by lesterbarber on December 7, 2011 - 2:18 PM

    #41 (Fern) needs to do his research:

    I always assumed alcohol + curling don’t mix, but: “Although alcohol is regularly consumed during recreational curling events, none of the four athletes injured by falling on the ice had been consuming alcohol at the time of injury.”

    I’m glad for this post though. My heels have ached for several months now. The pain began after a FGB where I did tons of rapid-fire box jumps. I will now do step-downs for the time being.

  28. #61 by Sam on December 7, 2011 - 2:24 PM

    thanks for another well thoughtout post. My question too you is what should we do to replace this movement? Or is it even worth replacing? A few days ago we had a WOD that included 50 boxjumps prior to doing 100 squats etc, etc, needless to say after the WOD my legs were gassed, I felt like the WOD did an effective job at targeting my legs and core. So if we were to illimanate box jumps (or scale to what Verkhoshansky Rx) what should we do to still get that desired effect with out the danger of blowing your achilles?

    • #62 by Andy Gallego on December 7, 2011 - 9:45 PM


      You attended a class with a legit warm-up and mobility session prior to the intense metcon. Although there was pre-fatigue involved the level of inherent danger was slim. It would be more likely that you skin your shin misjudging the jump on the box in which you would receive a cool scar. Don’t be afraid of box jumps dude.

  29. #63 by Fern on December 7, 2011 - 2:38 PM

    touche sir touche,
    bocce ball would have been a better example….

  30. #64 by Nick H on December 7, 2011 - 3:05 PM

    I too have been recovering from an achilles tendon rupture about 7 months ago. I totally agree with Epic and have talked to him about progress a couple times as he is about a month behind me. This is a devastating injury that many people never fully recover from. And until you go thru it you can sit there and say oh that will never happen to me – bullshit! My surgeon was pretty familiar with crossfit and box jumps, so after talking about how and why this could happen to someone in such good shape even after stretching and warmups – he explained that the way many of us will bounce off of the floor using our achilles as basically a rubber band vs. completely landing on 2 feet and pausing flat footed before jumping again, was a very violent stretch and torque on the achilles. After many reps the achilles and calf muscle are so fatigued that the achilles will snap. I am still not 100% recovered from this and it has definitely affected my performance in many areas. Bottom line is it is not worth it, take your time on box jumps!

    • #65 by Fern on December 7, 2011 - 3:12 PM

      i don’t think anyone was saying that it will never happen, i sure wasn’t. the fact that this thread exists is proof that is has and can happen. the discussion is how and what the cause is.

  31. #66 by Mark on December 7, 2011 - 3:33 PM

    Am new to CrossFit but have been wondering about the gay socks…now I know. Thanks Bru. Will side step programming the high rep box jumps – straight forward risk / reward call – even if only based on anecdotal and the bizarre fashion trends.

  32. #67 by Steve on December 7, 2011 - 3:40 PM

    Maybe if your achilles wasn’t such a fucking pussy you wouldn’t have to write this post!!!

    • #68 by EPIC on December 7, 2011 - 4:20 PM

      Comment of the day!

  33. #69 by Foote on December 7, 2011 - 4:06 PM

    Ruptured my achilles Aug 11th playing soccer. I am an avid crossfitter. I’m 3.5 months out and I am already doing step ups and step downs. I feel like I am going to have a full recovery but I think I am out of ever doing BJs again. I am late 30’s so I am the prime target for this injury.

    • #70 by Steve on December 7, 2011 - 4:35 PM

      Hopefully you are out of doing BJs but you can still get ’em!!!

      I am on a fucking roll today!

  34. #71 by mattcfu on December 7, 2011 - 4:45 PM

    I hate when people have something bad happen to them and automatically blame the method or movement they were using. How about you are a fucking dip shit who doesn’t know how to box jump. I tore my knee something serious doing max cleans, I am not running around saying that cleans are the devil and can only lead to injury. Anything done incorrectly will lead to injury. If you get hurt cleaning, you were doing it wrong, if you get hurt box jumping, you were doing it wrong. If you get hurt having sex, you are doing it wrong. The way you’re talking, double unders would be off the menu as well, so instead of blaming the box jumps, how a bout you just learn how to land with your whole foot on the box and then don’t slam your feet into the ground when you land. And before you go name dropping “THE GOD FATHER OF PLYOMETRIC”s name like you’re some kind of genius and no one else knows what you’re talking about , go actually read his books and then you will know that box jumping for cardio as in CrossFit, and box jumping for height and building contraction speed as in depth jumps, are different methods for different goals.
    You hurt yourself. Box jumps didn’t do it to you. If Olympic gymnasts are vaulting themselves through the air and landing with many times the force of ‘box jumps’ you’ll be fine doing your little jumpy ups. If not than quot CrossFit and keep your whining to yourself.


    • #72 by Foote on December 7, 2011 - 4:50 PM
      But seriously, what is the proper way to do a box jump that will prevent injury?

      • #73 by Matt on December 7, 2011 - 4:59 PM

        Land on box with entire foot, then do a drop step backwards with both feet together. Wait for your feet to make contact with the ground, absorb the impact by bending your knees and then extend back up, landing with full foot on the box. If you jump of the top of the box you are likely to get hurt on the landing on the ground. And if you land on the box with your heels hanging off you will definitely get hurt. Come to unbroken. We haven’t had an Achilles injury ever

        • #74 by Foote on December 7, 2011 - 5:08 PM

          Thanks! To me that sounds like jump up normally (land on box fully) then you can step off or step down. I appreciate the feedback.

    • #75 by Steve on December 7, 2011 - 7:20 PM

      Juggernaut Systems has some great jump programs, like sarah said these focus on lower reps with emphasis on height or weighted jumps. They are an athletic training center for D1 and Olympic hopeful athletes. He has some good stuff on all aspects of training.

      I am so going to start programming “Jumpy Ups”. Thanks Matt for that fabulous new term. Sorry you hurt yourself on a little Cleany Weany…

    • #76 by Timmy F on December 8, 2011 - 7:05 AM

      You blew your knee out doing a CLEAN? Yeah, totally want to be coached by you. You should give MORE training advice, brother.

      Also – name dropping connotes that the person who is doing said name dropping is implying that he knows the person. Epic is simply showing that he knows how to use the Google machine. You should try it. Put “Crossfit Level 1 Shit doesn’t actually fucking mean anything” in Google, fuck face.

      • #77 by Neil on December 9, 2011 - 11:06 PM

        Hey Timmy. CFU’s Matt Hathcock is one help of an athlete as well as an inspiring coach and friend of mine – and I happen to agree with him.

        I hurt myself doing high rep box jumps because my form sucked. It still sucks (though it is getting better) so I modify the movement until form improves – I don’t cheat the WOD in the name of “danger.”

        You should reserve the name calling (Fuck Face) for those that don’t bring Matt’s passion to the table.

        • #78 by HonestAbe on December 12, 2011 - 10:47 AM

          Timmy, please stop picking on my friends. He is a really good coach on stuff other than cleans. Like, he told me my box jump form sucked so I don’t do them until my form improves. How is going to improve you ask? Well…coach hasn’t told me yet…but I know he is right…except when he is coaching cleans because obviously those are not his strongpoint.

          Also, you may only make fun of idiots that are not full of passion. If I am passionate and dumb then you can’t make fun of me. Glassman said so.

      • #79 by Brad on January 31, 2012 - 9:36 PM

        Oh by the way…NYC to tha fsulelt Wash Heights to the fsulelt Que lo Que OYE! Yeah to the Chi ya’ll need to crucify this nigga Kanye, i mean, that’s what he WANTS isn’t it?? Thing is I don’t see him rising up after 3 days!!! Hahaha bitch ass nigga Kanye you a shame for real! Only nigga reppin the Chi to tha fsulelt still is TWISTA, Com moved to Brooklyn and as hot as his last album “BE” is, guess who executive produced that shit???

  35. #80 by Sarah Lewis on December 7, 2011 - 4:55 PM

    Epic, I completely agree with you on this one. We stopped programming sets over 10-15 reps a while ago, I think probably before that 11.2 WOD but it might have been just after. When we switched to an emphasis on box jump HEIGHT for small sets like 3-7 reps per round, we saw a huge increase in the explosive power of our athletes, namely our lifters. We will work between higher jumps at 30-40″ for sets of 3-5 and weighted jumps at 24-30″ for sets of 5-7 and this is a great system so far. There is little to no ‘functional’ purpose in rapidly jumping up and down off a 20-24″ object. I can’t actually think of any times in life when I’ve had to do so, maybe when stomping a dead body in an alley….anyway, thanks for putting this out there!
    Sarah-Combat CrossFit

    • #81 by Andy on December 8, 2011 - 10:37 PM

      The great thing about taller box jumps is that the general population of won’t even attempt bounding.

      We will typically do depth drops into a squat back up onto another box for skill transfer…

  36. #82 by Duff on December 7, 2011 - 4:56 PM

    Everyone is commenting about overtraining, and what is the occurence of a rupture achilles in bball/vball… and that’s irrelevant. Instead, why not just examine the biomechanics of the movement. Basketball and volleyball are not nearly the same as deficit jumps/box jumps, nor is there as much frequency for jumping in those movements. You might jump what, 3 times in a row in a basketball game going for a rebound, and once in volleyball going for a spike/block? Then you rest from that movement until the next round. Box jumps provide a boatload of shear forces on the achilles at the bottom of a deficit jump, and high volume of those without rest will eventually cause failure…aka rupture. Take a look at a stress-strain curve and it should all make sense.

  37. #83 by MB on December 7, 2011 - 4:58 PM

    do you thing the games standard…land on box then extend (requires a pause) at hip and then off box with a pause at floor (eliminating bounding?) would decrease risk/loading of achilles. is it intensity (high rep)/technique(bounding)/both/or some other factor – overtraining – which is a general risk factor in all movements not just box jumps.

  38. #84 by Dr. Barry Hungwell on December 7, 2011 - 5:31 PM

    I’ll just put this right here…

    Seems to fit well with the discussion.

    • #85 by Cliff Dyer on December 7, 2011 - 5:57 PM

      Because gays lack intensity. Har har.

      Fuck that noise.

      • #86 by Dr. Barry Hungwell on December 7, 2011 - 8:03 PM

        I was mostly referring to the “Own your bullshit” box. Not the “Gay” one.

        Anyone willing to turn an exit into an entrance on a regular basis, and be happy about it, has to be pretty intense.

  39. #87 by Wong on December 7, 2011 - 7:16 PM

    Doing too much of anything is bad, but “too much” is an incredibly personalized term. While Joe Crossfitter might only be able to handle fifty 30″ Box Jumps, Rich Froning Jr. can probably do well into the hundreds before injuring himself.

    If you kick your shoes off and run a 5k barefoot with no prior experience you will sand your footskin down to the bone. But, if you slowly increase the amount of barefoot running you do, and allow ample time to heal, you can run marathons without a scratch on your foot. I think all other movements are the same way. You have to increase volume slowly to build resistance to injury.

    If you were at a competition and a workout with 250 box jumps came up (or maybe if you had to jump into several deep ravines to escape a bear), would you really want to resign yourself to failure because you thought it was a good idea to not do a lot of box jumps?

    • #88 by Anthony Mayo on December 8, 2011 - 8:05 AM

      I think that’s part of the point…in competition you will sell yourself out to perform well and place as high as possible. The problem comes from when someone is treating every M-F training session as if it’s the effin games!

      • #89 by EPIC on December 8, 2011 - 9:05 AM

        What Tony said. I’m looking to create awareness so that 250 box jumps in competition no longer exists. I’ll be competing in the Open Qualifiers again next year and I’m at the mercy of their programming. Really hoping they keep the reps at a safe level.

        • #90 by Wong on December 8, 2011 - 1:26 PM

          I understand that you want to keep things as safe as possible, but what “safe” is varies heavily from person to person, depending on their experience with the task in question. Dangerous tasks can be made safer if you prepare and train properly for them.

          Leading experts of the time told Roger Bannister that his heart would explode if he ran a sub-four minute mile. And today we all know that is bullshit. If HQ actually did put a cap on the number of box jumps that can be in a workout because it’s “dangerous,” another Roger Bannister would come along and prove to the world that you can’t put a limit on human performance.

          In the event that HQ does make a ridiculous workout in the Open, I suggest you get that new achilles tendon ready for EXTENDED BEASTMODE. Just in case.

  40. #91 by Anthony Mayo on December 7, 2011 - 10:26 PM

    Epic are you in my head. The other day I was thinking why is it that in all my years of participating in sports I have never once heard of an athelte rupturing their achilles and in just one year of Crossfit I have come across 4 people who have? Thanks for clearing it up.

  41. #92 by Fi on December 7, 2011 - 11:22 PM

    Agree with one of the comments above: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Stop if i doesn’t feel right. Apart from that, as always I find u ridiculously hilarious, thanks for making me laugh.

  42. #93 by mmarlin on December 7, 2011 - 11:25 PM

    Jesus people, just do handstand box jumps – there isn’t an achilles tendon in your hand, trust me, I’m a doctor so problem solved, and simultaneously you get better at HSPU – i call that a 2fer

    • #94 by Matty on January 7, 2012 - 11:09 PM


  43. #95 by Nate on December 8, 2011 - 7:59 AM

    Do you think that box jumps done with a controlled step down would be less damaging….or at least hedge against injury than the quick rebounding method that we see so often in CF? I’m the last guy who wants to go through an unnecessary injury for the sake of shaving off a few seconds on a WOD.

    • #96 by EPIC on December 8, 2011 - 9:01 AM

      Step down would be safer, but slow as fuck. That’s the problem.

      “It is our observation that men will die for points.” -Greg Glassman

      • #97 by grittibanz on December 8, 2011 - 10:02 AM

        That’s the problem, Glassman won’t change his ways. While I love Cfit and think its is the best thing, like you said EPIC there is a lot of dumb shit that we do too. I am not sure Glassman has the sac to change anything because that would mean he would have to admit that Cfit isn’t 100% perfect.

  44. #98 by Carli on December 8, 2011 - 10:27 AM

    You couldn’t have used a better example than Kate “killer” Rawlings. I’m sure once she’s done recovering “for time” she will be right back to doing those high rep box jumps. When it comes to working out I’m more for the quality of the rep than the quantity. I’d rather do12-15 box jumps correctly (both feet landing on the box, not just tapping it and then jumping back down), rest and repeat for two more sets. Somewhere along the line of all the high rep WODs of any movement, form and technique suffer in one way or another.

  45. #99 by kristin on December 8, 2011 - 2:04 PM

    I’m just glad to hear someone else is finally tapping into the gayness of trees. All I can say is that it’s about damn time.

    • #100 by Dr. Barry Hungwell on December 9, 2011 - 6:07 PM


  46. #101 by Lex on December 8, 2011 - 3:33 PM

    I am one of the unfortunate people that got crushed by MaGhee (30 min amrap of 5-275 DL, 13 push ups, and 9 box jumps) in the last 30 secs in July at Rumble by the river Crossfit comp. I had my warnings about 15-20 mins into the wod but didn’t recognize that it was my Achilles starting to tear and not my ankle. Stupid me!!! I’m tough, push through! I listen to my body a little more now. Recovery was tough and im still rehabbing after 4.5 months now. It’s not easy and very frustrating at time. Box jumps will never be done like that again. Kate Rawlings, good luck! Sorry it happened to her.

  47. #102 by Walter Ezell on December 9, 2011 - 12:29 AM

    Read a good chunk of this, and whether I’m late or not doesnt matter. Couple things, even though they’ve been covered I’m sure. (i feel better if i contribute)

    If you feel like bouncing up and down on the box like a fuck-nut is going to rupture your feet-piece, then by all means step down. You keep the functionality in that you are jumping ONTO something, which we do everyday whether its a curb, a dead body, out of the way of something, up the stairs (cus who the fuck walks up each single stair), etc etc.

    If you haven’t figured out by now the CrossFit games is begging to injure yourself, then you’re living in a fantasy world. 10 WODs in 3 days, nope. NOT over training at all. Common. That being said, if you train for the CrossFit games, and you get injured, guess what? You had it coming. I’m not against the games at all, I’ve tried em, will again, and understand there is an inherent risk in doing so. Falls right in with what Andy said “show me an athlete who has never overtrained and I will be looking at an athlete who is no where near his/her potential.”

    The fact that there is quite a few athletes that are rupturing their Achilles tendons during box jumps should sent a clear message. That’s called a trend. A bad trend. When all they had in the NFL were leather helmets, they quickly figured out that people where scrambling their brain, what did they do? Did they just write it off as “oh it’s fucking football, you’re bound to get hurt.” No. They changed the fucking helmets.

  48. #103 by Eileen Schreiber on December 10, 2011 - 8:21 AM

    I just read this and I have not read all of the comments. GREAT POST.

    I have one thing to add that applies to box jumps or any movement we do. Most of us who CrossFit push our bodies without taking proper care of them. Period.

    How many of us REALLY stretch, roll, get deep tissue massages, see a physical therapist when something is “off”. How many of us realize that our bodies are imperfectly balanced to start out with, and as soon as we bear weight and start repping, become even more out of balance.

    Which means compensation, overcompensation and…..

    It doesn’t work over the long run. Period. Something – whatever part of you that is being pushed too hard without being re adjusted, will pop.

  49. #104 by bingo on December 10, 2011 - 11:20 AM

    Interesting thread. Wish I had the link, but by far the most common cause of achilles tendon rupture in the U.S. is stop-and-start sports in men between the ages of 30 and 50. Think basketball, racquetball, squash. Seriously, the offices of orthopedic surgeons are littered with the severed achilles tendons of post-college age weekend warriors who blow them out in a pick-up game situation. The numbers are way more than a full order of magnitude greater than anything seen in CrossFit, Games level of otherwise. It’s why I stopped playing squash 6 years ago after a couple of gastroc tears–I could see where THAT was going.

    The points raised about the importance of recovery, avoiding over-training (in those who really are not Games-level CrossFitters, ie. almost all of us), and emphasizing proper technique are really spot on. 50 box jumps done well too many? Hmmm…

  50. #105 by Andy on December 10, 2011 - 1:15 PM

    Interestingly enough, D-Wade performs the box jumps at the end of the workout to work on ‘fatigued’ explosiveness. Certainly not high reps though.

  51. #106 by Ben O'Grady on December 15, 2011 - 2:02 PM

    I’ve been having serious issues with my left achilles since March. I basically can’t do double unders or box jumps without severe pain, and even single unders are getting painful. I don’t think my achilles is ruptured–I wouldn’t be able to walk, right?–so it seems to me like I’ve got bad tendinitis or a small tear. What should I do? How do I rehab it? It’s been bothering me for NINE MONTHS.

    Training-wise, at present, I mostly do Olympic lifting and regular weight lifting with some running on the weekend. Running is a little painful. I’ve been trying to pull back on CrossFit volume specifically because of this injury.

    • #107 by Foote on December 15, 2011 - 2:09 PM

      9 months? First thing, go see a doctor.

    • #108 by EPIC on December 15, 2011 - 4:35 PM

      Foote’s right. Go see a doc fucking now. Big difference between partial tear and tendonitus.

    • #109 by Freddo on December 19, 2011 - 9:52 PM

      O’Grady, seriously. Nothing should be hurting that much for that long. Your body is yelling at you!

      This reminds me of one day while at a globo. While I was “spot-training” my lats (remember spot-training?…anyone?) The guy that was spot-training his biceps asked me if I thought he should be”…concerned about this?”, he then proceeded to show me how his right bicep went from looking as if flexed while he kept his arm at a 90 degree angle, to literally dropping toward his elbow, resembling a tennis ball, whenever he straightened his arm. I’m not an doctor, but even this spot-training jerk could see there was certainly something to be “concerned about”. If it hurts…the snarky response would be – stop doing that. But I won’t say that…just ease off on your body and go see a doctor.

  52. #110 by Cmo on December 30, 2011 - 4:50 PM

    Lots of good comments on this post, just one more thought to add. I know that I had a great deal of pain in my calf/achilles after the Open WOD and one of the main contributors (I believe) was wearing minimalist shoes. Even though it is fairly well known to ease into running in these types of shoes, for some reason we don’t ease into CFitting in them. I had been wearing them about 5 or 6 months in the gym but found that I didn’t really start getting much pain relief after the Open WOD until moving to a different shoe. Someone explained to me that on of the main flexor muscles we use for jumping runs from the toes under the foot and up into the achilles/calf (I don’t know much about anatomy, just repeating what I was told). I definitely think other factors like warming-up, mobility, jumping surface (some people bound on concrete floors!) etc contribute as well…just thought I’d add another one to consider.

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