It’s the biggest “bugbear” of all athletes and weekend warriors – the dreaded injury.
For every positive article about Obstacle racing, there are the ones that highlight the negatives – most commonly referring to the likelihood of acquiring injuries. Do a search for “obstacle race injuries” and you find headlines that read, “… obstacle races causing more injuries,” “The dangers of attempting… Obstacle course race,” “Medical toll at Obstacle Race,” and the list goes on. The injury statistics are out there and they need to be recognised, considered and addressed if you’re planning on training for and racing in an upcoming event – this linked article highlights the most common injuries associated with Obstacle racing. The demands of the training required may be just as potentially harmful. CrossFit has also attracted this same criticism over recent years. The concerns for safe participation, competition and racing is reasonable and should apply to all forms of sports and exercise (and to the event companies that profit from promoting and staging these competitions). Mandatory governance to regulate the quality of personal trainers is also important to ensure a base minimum professional requirement exists. To be fair to Obstacle Racing and CrossFit, when the number of people participating in a sport increases so do the injuries. As little as a decade ago the exercise that caused the most reported injuries was Yoga. You wouldn’t believe it would you? That’s for the simple reason that over the 90’s and early 2000’s there was a massive Yoga boom, leading to mass participation = increased reported injuries.
There’s 5 action steps you can take to give yourself the best possible chance to train and compete injury FREE for your next Obstacle Race.
1. Run on dirt… trail running is an excellent way to build up the strength, balance, proprioception (i.e. joint position sense) and endurance required to get you from one obstacle to the next. Ankle sprains are a very common injury amongst Obstacle racers. Trail running will give you the conditioning you need for your lower limb joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles to reduce the likelihood of these types of trips and falls.
2. Play like a child… if you’ve got kids you may know what I’m on about here. Kids play in the moment. They don’t use training programs to schedule in their games – they do what they enjoy and when they’ve had enough they move on. Kids don’t like to jog. They love to sprint! Ask your child/niece/nephew to jog with you around the local oval and you’ll get a big fat “No.” Tell them that you want to play a game of “tiggy” and you’re on! Kids sprint, jump, crawl, climb, lift, push, pull, bend, squat and lunge (maintaining a big fat smile the entire time) – all movements that are essential to having a strong foundation. At least once per week schedule in some unstructured training (i.e. play) and you’ll reap the rewards with a body that feels younger and performs better. It is good to have a structured approach to your training so that you can meet your Obstacle Race goal, however it’s also important to keep your activities fun and filled with variety.
3. Eat like a champion… getting in the correct ratios of macronutrients is essential to your immediate and long term health. Nutrition is often understated. Your potential for injury and recovery from injury can be largely determined by what your choose to eat and drink. You may have noticed that the “food pyramid” has had a slight revamp. Although this is somewhat heading in the right direction there is still a lot that is wrong with it. The diagram below is more congruent with an ethically researched ideal of what our split of macronutrients should look like.
4. Sleep like a baby… overtraining can and mostly does lead to injury and illness. The most common cause of overtraining is not too much training. That sounds bizarre. The most common cause of overtraining is not getting enough recovery in to allow your body to adapt to the stress load of exercise and to subsequently get stronger and fitter. For a working adult, 7-8 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep is required. Sleep should follow a predictable pattern with the same “to bed” and “waking” times everyday. The reason for this is the hormone, melatonin that governs our day-night wake-sleep cycles.
5. Treat your body like a temple… I wrote a blog about this a couple of years ago – click here to read it. There is adequate anecdotal evidence, science and research to prove that regular maintenance of your body through manual therapy (Chiropractic and Massage are my preferences – a little bias I know) plays a significant role in reducing the likelihood of acquiring injuries and faster recovery if injured.
Remember to… “Train insane, or remain the same.”