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Gruesome Box Jump injury and how to lessen your chance of having one

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Last week I was on Facebook and while going through status updates a photo caught my eye and stopped my scrolling dead. Pictured was a horrible box jump gone wrong injury in full color. I’m pretty squeamish so I usually bypass those posts, the ones with accidents etc, never get a second look.

Heck I even leave the room during particularly grisly movie horror scenes. But this was different. This was a box jump injury, so I had to look for my own protection and those I train.

Thanks to Kari Michal, (the person who had posted the photos), I was able to get a hold of Philip Halbert who sent more photos and gave me his story.

In his words.  

"My name is Philip I'm a firefighter/paramedic in San Diego. I've been doing Crossfit for about 3.5 years. 

While I was at work I was doing an AMRAP in 12 minutes of 5 box jumps 10 toes to bar 15 KB swings 20 thrusters 95lbs and 30 double-unders. I was just coming off a knee injury and I was feeling 100% again and I was flying through the wod. 

It was round 8 or 9 when fatigue really hit. I was using a tall metal box for my box jumps. When I went to jump up my  left thumb caught my pocket of my shorts and threw me off a bit just enough that my left foot made it all the way up but my right foot slipped off.

As my foot slipped off the edge of the box caught my right shin. I thought I was just going to have a hematoma but when I looked down it was filleted open. It was pretty embarrassing when my own crew had to transport me to the ER.  

After 14 stitches and almost 4 months for it to finally heal I'm back at it. The shin I now realize is probably one of the most slow healing parts of the body it's just not as vascular and not much muscle and fat."

Photo courtesy Philip Halbert © 2014

Photo courtesy Philip Halbert © 2014

Photo courtesy Philip Halbert © 2014

Photo courtesy Philip Halbert © 2014

So what can you do to lessen the chances of this happening to you?

Well, there's a lot actually.

If you wanted to greatly reduce your chance of a box jump injury like the one in the photos, you could move to a Foam Plyo box by Rogue. These were showcased at Regionals, and caught everyone’s attention.

I for one actually contemplated getting one or two, but it just isn’t in my budget right now. Although I think that is what most gyms will be moving towards, they cost BIG bucks, and I doubt most people can afford the switch overnight.

A typical 24” wooden box will run you $65-$135 depending on design, and a 24” foam box $320

So what can you do until you fill your personal training space, garage gym, or box with soft boxes?

Simple; fix what you have, and make small adjustments with the way you train yourself or others.

Fixing Plyo Boxes!

1. Round those edges!: Sadly I never thought much about this until the FB post. After I saw those photos I thought “How have I not had a bad injury yet? Pure luck!” then “ Man I’m dumb, I should have fixed those long ago.

To round the edges you have two easy options. Either you can use a router or sand them.

*Although, rounded edges won’t keep you injury free, they will make the possibility of a gash like the one posted a lot less likely.

2. Add some sort of coating to the top of your plyo boxes: Others have recommended adding a piece of rubber, which I actually thought about. 

My only issue with adding a piece of rubber like horse stall matt is that if the glue or whatever else you use to adhere it to the top wears out, the rubber could potentially lift, allowing your feet to catch on an edge.

Instead my choice was to coat the top several times with a spray on rubberized truck bed liner by Rust-oleum. It worked well and finished smooth.

The cost per can of spray on liner is ($10.60 on Amazon).

The rest of the box is just the primer.

I’d love to have the coating a little thicker, which could be achieved with something like professionally applied LINEX. The issue here is price. I called a local LINEX place and they quoted $40 per box. Sure it’s a lot cheaper than soft boxes, but when a coating costs half as much as a box, it makes me think twice. I guess it all comes down to cost vs benefit.

I had though about some of the roll on liners, but the ones I have used have a texture and I’m pretty sure that a fall on that would produce other types of injuries like road rash.

Below are a few photos from my newly de-edged boxes. The best solution would have been to use a router, but in this case the builders had used glue and staples very close to the edge, which kept me from using one.

I used few short passes with a belt sander, and then smoothed everything out with a finish sander.

The boxes prior to sanding.

A belt sander took the edges off fast. A router would have been great, but staples used in construction were
to close to the edge.

At this point the edges were still a bit rough.

After using a finishing sander everything was smooth and ready for some primer, then the truck bed liner.
I knew using the liner on the whole box would cost a lot, so I chose to to only put it on the top and edges.

Rust-oleum spray on bed liner. It costs around $10-$11 per can and goes on smooth.
The roll on stuff has some texture to it when applying and might cause bad scrapes if you fell on it. 
Think road rash.

First coat done, with several more to go.

Finished top. When dry I just painted the rest with flat black from a can.

Finished box in use. I felt a bit safer and so did everyone using them.

**** Please note, I in no way guarantee this method will prevent injuries. It is the method I used, and am offering it to you the reader as one of many possible ideas. Use at your own risk.


1. Step Ups: Many athletes have switched from rebounding to stepping off the box to lessen the chance of an Achilles injury. Many are now moving to step ups in lieu of jumping to the top of the box, to reduce the nasty injuries like the one depicted above.

There are arguments to both sides of which is better, and I won’t get into that debate here (Jumping vs. step ups).

What I tell the people I am working with is that if they have no intention of competing, the risk doesn’t of jumping doesn’t outweigh the risk so I have them do step-ups.

This is especially true during longer workouts where the legs become like jello.

 2. If you jump, know your limitations: Trying a new height during a tough workout is more than likely a recipe for disaster.

We’ve all been there. The workout is going great, we make the jump and our toe catches. Normally it’s just an “Ouch that could of hurt” moment and you proceed.

If you had trouble getting to the top of the box on your last round, and just finished another 400m run, chances are that jump won’t get any easier.

From here you have two choices. Either begin step ups, or FULLY COMMIT to the jump. Don’t go at it half assed. Even if that requires you to step back for a second, get your foot placement correct, and then use everything you have to make the jump. Lastly, stick the landing!

If I’m training someone and they look like they’re an actor from the newest episode of the “Walking Dead” during a round, I’ll tell them to stop jumping and step up.

If you have your own box jump horror photos or stories please share them in the comments below. Or if you have other ideas on fixing plyo boxes, tips for doing box jumps, or box jump safety please share  as well.


 * Disclosure Per FCC You need to know that certain links from this article are to affiliate products for sale. What that means is that if you click on the link and later purchase a product from the site I could get paid. I have not tried every product on this page. Buyer beware, do your own research prior to any purchase. You can read a more in depth disclosure here if need be. So why would I tell you this? Well first it’s the law, second it’s the right thing to do and third I ain’t got nothing to hide. Since this site don’t pay the bills by itself, I figure providing a link to product you might want could benefits both of us.


See you on the beach.



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