Large-scale ballistic exercises such as the Olympic lifts are promoted as advantageous for athletes on all levels. However, in my opinion, these exercises are very dangerous and expose multiple joints to risk. This risk is just not necessary for traditional young athletes interested in improving sports performance or general populations that seek to improve body composition. Some research has been conducted to determine injury occurrence from Olympic and at minimum reported an injury risk (Feito et al., 2014; Johasson et al. 2011; Kulund et al., 1978; Raske & Norlin, 2002). More research is needed and we must keep in mind the limitations of research that requires accurate reporting of injuries.
Following my time training clients, I can say unequivocally that I would absolutely never prescribe the snatch and clean and jerk for any of our clients.
Olympic lifting is designed for Olympic competition, not for basketball, baseball, football, or hockey player’s who need to improve strength, power, and muscle mass throughout all the major muscle groups. Simply if an athlete becomes 100% stronger throughout all major muscle groups they will move faster, jump higher, or throw a ball harder. Further, Olympic lifting for Olympic athletes takes years to perfect the form necessary to safely perform those exercises. Athletes of typical sports simply do not have the months and years necessary to perfect the form required nor does the risk-benefit ratio match the goals of the athlete. The benefits of Olympic lifting does not exceed that of basic resistance exercise and presents an extreme risk of musculoskeletal injury.
Feito, Y., & Paul, A. (2014). Prevalence of injury among CrossFit® participants. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46, 762. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.mss.0000495783.20863.86
Jonasson, P., Halldin, K., Karlsson, J., Thoreson, O., Hvannberg, J., Swärd, L., & Baranto, A. (2011). Prevalence of joint-related pain in the extremities and spine in five groups of top athletes. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 19(9), 1540–1546. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00167-011-1539-4
Kulund, D. N., Dewey, J. B., Brubaker, C. E., & Roberts, J. R. (1978). Olympic Weight-Lifting Injuries. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 6(11), 111–119. https://doi.org/10.1080/00913847.1978.11783743
Raske, Å., & Norlin, R. (2002). Injury incidence and prevalence among elite weight and power lifters. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 30(2), 248–256. https://doi.org/10.1177/03635465020300021701