Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Staying Alive Out There

Obstacle Racing Injury Prevention Tips

These mud run training tips are brought to you by Melissa of My Exercise Coach.  

 The popularity of obstacle racing has soared in just a few years. Beginners and seasoned fitness enthusiasts don’t need to go far to find a race. And there’s one for everyone: from a zombie-themed course to a rigorous 10+ mile challenge.

Train Intelligently.

Beyond the novelty of the sport, though, lies the need to train intelligently for a race. Most obstacle races have training tips and program recommendations on their website. But in addition to working on your physical fitness, you’ll need to devote prep efforts to running injury-free to be fully prepared for an obstacle race.

Some injuries can be expected as part of the race. Crawling under, climbing over, and running through obstacles may leave you with a few cuts and bruises. Embrace these minor war wounds, but train to protect your muscles and bones.

Warm Up.

Successful injury prevention starts with your training program, starting with the warm-up. Warming up before you workout helps prevent any unwanted muscle pulls and tweaks during your workout. A proper warm-up should consist of a general warm-up with light cardiovascular/aerobic activity and a specific warm-up with exercises to prep you for activity. If there are particular muscle groups you find tight, it may not be a bad idea to hold a stretch for 20 seconds targeting that specific muscle right after your cardiovascular warm-up. For a specific warm-up, you can do bodyweight versions of exercise you’ll do during the “work” bout of your routine. These include squats, push-ups, lunges, crunches, and similar exercises.

Cool Down.

The cool-down is just as important as your warm-up in preventing injuries. Cooling down with static stretches may help delay soreness and promote muscular flexibility. Focus on muscle groups you’ve trained during the work bout of your session. Hold each for 20-30 seconds. You can also add foam rolling/self-myofascial release to your cool-down -- it will have a similar impact of a deep muscle tissue massage.

You can also help prevent injuries through your daily obstacle course race training. Make sure you are including exercises that will specifically prepare you for your race. You’ll see a lot squats, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, abdominal exercises, and burpees as well as running included in many programs. Since obstacle racing challenges your entire body, a strength program integrating total body exercises with some targeted work for legs and core are ideal. Remember to rest between sets of hard work and include a day or two each week to scale back and recover with mobility and flexibility work.

Race Smart. 

On race day, you’ll still need to do some work to prevent injuries. Trust your judgment, run at your own pace, and don’t be afraid to skip an obstacle that seems unsafe to you. Wear supportive footwear and be confident in your hard work to get you through your obstacle course race. 
 Be sure to visit Melissa's blog, http://www.myexercisecoach.net/ for more great posts.

Have you been injured in training or on an obstacle race course? How were you injured, and what do you do to prevent injuries in training and on race day?

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