Workouts Gone Wrong: Ways to Injury-Proof Your Sweat Sessions
Down and Dirty -- and Dangerous
Tough Mudder. Spartan Race. Warrior Dash. Muddy adventure races are the latest way women are testing their physical and mental mettle. Packed with obstacles like barbed wire, frigid waters, and fire, these events bring major bragging rights and serious risks.
"They are extreme obstacle courses that you need to specifically train for, even if you're already athletic," says Sabrina Strickland, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City who has treated injuries in female adventure racers. In April a 28-year-old man died during a Tough Mudder in West Virginia; three deaths and injuries resulting in paralysis have occurred at events by other organizers. No wonder most of these races have so-called death waivers that you need to sign to participate.
Still want to do one? "Don't be afraid to skip an obstacle or drop out of a race entirely if you don't feel safe," Dr. Strickland says.Enter at Your Own Risk
Rob Dickens, the chief operating officer for Rugged Races, a nationwide 5K mud run with 50 percent female participation, breaks down the obstacles you may face during a race -- which will be listed on the waiver you'll sign -- and offers tips for conquering them safely.
Waiver Warning: Thick smoke and open flames
Translation: Prepare to jump over fire. Run fast (if you're too slow, it'll be hard to clear) and keep your eyes on the ground in front of you to avoid rubble that can trip you up -- and into the flames.
Waiver Warning: Traversing muddy areas
Translation: You'll crawl through mud pits or pipes filled with the stuff. Wear tight-fitting athletic clothes (baggy duds create drag or get snagged, slowing you down), shoes designed for off-road running, and sports sleeves to protect your arms from sharp rocks and sticks.
Waiver Warning: Contact with barbed wire
Translation: Yes, you will be crawling under real barbed wire. Through mud. Stay down on your belly.
Waiver Warning: Erratic coparticipant behavior
Translation: These races can bring out the worst in people who thrive on the testosterone-fueled vibe. Competitors acting crazy? Get out of their way and report them to event staff.
Waiver Warning: Collisions with other participants
Translation: Before jumping from climbing obstacles -- like 12-foot barricades and 40-foot cargo nets -- look down and make sure a fellow racer isn't beneath you; get out of the way quickly when you land.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July/August 2013.
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