Obstacle Racing's Most Common Injuries—and How to Avoid Them

Mike Donoghue, the founder of Amphibious Medics, a private medical-staffing contractor for the nation’s largest events, including Tough Mudder and Spartan Race, offers his insider tips

Aug 1, 2013
Outside Magazine
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   Photo: Glynnis Jones

40%: Cramps, weather-related illness
How They Happen:
“On hot, humid days, you can get dehydrated,” says Donoghue. “If it’s cold, you can get hypothermic. It hap-pens to everyone.”
Avoid Them:
Stay hydrated and fuel properly. Dress for the weather. World’s Toughest -Mudder racers often compete in wetsuits during cold seasons.

20%: Ankle Injuries
How They Happen:
“Once you’re past an obstacle, your mind’s wandering, you’re chatting with friends, then you trip over a root and break your ankle,” Donoghue says.
Avoid Them:
Pay attention. Always.

10%: Lacerations
How They Happen:
Crawling under barbed wire and over sharp rocks.
Avoid Them:
Wear tight clothes that cover your body.

5%: Shoulder Injuries
How They Happen:
The majority, says Donoghue, “come from monkey-bar-style obstacles or anything where you’re helping pull a friend over something.”
Avoid Them:
Incorporate upper-body strength training.

25%: Other (Bruises, splinters, snapped femur, paralysis)
How They Happen:
Jumping over ditches, diving into water—all the stuff you’re required to do during an event.
Avoid Them:
Don’t throw caution to the wind just because the clock is ticking. When you step on a course, use good judgement.

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