How to injury-proof yourself for the Spartan Race
Photos: Spartan Race Singapore
Incorporating military-style obstacle scaling, muddy pits and maybe even swimming along its route, the Spartan Race entices adrenaline seekers to challenge themselves.
Since this is no ordinary race, the risks associated with the event are not typical of what you’d expect from a running event.
However, certain principles of injury-prevention and management as well as a good dose of common sense go a long way to ensure a safe and enjoyable time training and participating in the Spartan Race. Resident physician at the Changi Sports Medicine Centre, Dr. Lim Baoying, sheds some expertise on the matter.
Principle 1: No last minute preparation!
Rule number one is to be physically and mentally prepared for the challenge. Complacency of the preparatory process is the number one guarantee of injury to your body. This is why Spartan offers mass workout training programs specifically for race participants. The preparation needs to be multi-faceted in order for you to face up to the various challenges in the race. We highly recommend dedicating adequate time for this process.
Physical training involves working on your endurance, speed as well as upper and lower body strength. Simply running at a steady pace would not provide the training stimulus to your body to cope with the physical demands of the obstacle race. And the race course might not be a flat one, hence the need to prep for some hill or off-road running. It also calls for higher intensity running in the form of interval run sets.
Functional training is also required to prepare for the race. You need to learn how to carry or pull heavy items on the move, scale ropes and climb over walls. These are movements that were part of normal living in olden times, but our urbanized lifestyle is almost completely devoid of such activities, hence we have to train specifically for them.
Principle 2: Think safety
Have you checked if your body is physically up to the challenge of the event? This simple self-administered questionnaire could advise if you need medical clearance before signing up for the event. If you are long overdue for a physical check, please pay a visit to your doctor.
During race day, some common obstacles where people tend to get injured are the barbed wire and the robe climb. Remember to fully clear the barbed wire before standing, and don’t slide down the ropes to avoid rope burn. Gloves are also recommended for additional safety and better grip.
Remember that there is always the option of burpees if you cannot clear an obstacle along the way. Challenge your limits to complete the event or achieve a target timing, but not at the expense of suffering an injury while you are attempting a move that you are unable to overcome.
Principle 3: Give your body a break
Training is never going to be an easy feat for working adults or schooling youths. The effort of training, progressively increasing in terms of duration and intensity, could backfire and you could be sidestepped in the race because of an injury or poor physical state due to inadequate rest.
Schedule at least a day of complete physical rest from training each week. Catch up with friends or loved ones whom you may have been neglecting since you started training to be a Spartan. Share your woes and joys of your progress in preparation so far. The mental and physical break will do wonders for your mind and body, and allow it to perform at its optimal state. Get a massage or use a trigger ball or foam roller to ease the knots in your body on a regular basis.
Principle 4: Listen to your body
If a certain body part hurts persistently during or after your training or race, and it does not go away after rest/icing/painkillers/massage, or you feel unstable about a particular joint, with or without recollection of a traumatic event, please seek medical attention. Sometimes, early diagnosis and treatment could save you from further damage to your body and allow you to continue with your healthy lifestyle.
Article courtesy of Dr Lim Baoying, Changi Sports Medicine Centre.