As popularity of obstacle courses grows, so do injury prevention concerns

July 11, 2012

Topic: Injury prevention

Large-scale obstacle courses are becoming more popular.

Large-scale obstacle courses, such as the Spartan Race and Tough Mudder, are becoming more popular in the U.S., with the latter attracting up to 20,000 participants to each race. Like any other sport, injury prevention is key to getting the most enjoyment out of this activity.

"Lacerations, dislocated joints and fractures - particularly of the legs, ankles and collar bones - are the most common injuries in obstacle racing, and the best way to avoid them is to train properly," said Joel Buchalter, M.D., F.A.A.O.S., F.A.C.S., a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons. "You need to build endurance, since the more tired you are, the greater the risk for injury."

First-time racers should start with basic training routines of walking/jogging and resistance drills on alternating days. As racing day approaches, this regimen should become progressively advanced, including bouts of both running and body weight-exercise. Running on an uneven surface may help simulate an actual event.

Because many large-scale races put their obstacle course online, it may be helpful to do research ahead of time in order to get a sense of the physical demands of an event. On race day, contenders need to stay hydrated. A steady pace will help prevent injuries, particularly in any muddy or sandy terrain.

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