PTSMC team members recently participated in an “adventurous” fitness event – one of many similar events you may have seen popping up in your area that combine fun, team-centered racing with challenging mixed modal obstacles.
The New England Warrior Dash was held on Saturday, August 19 at the Thompson Motor Speedway in Thompson, CT. PTSMC had five participants in the early heat of the event, including Stevie Fell, Joanna Fisher, Tatjana Cvjetinovic and Joe Mabry from PTSMC Waterbury and Joe’s friend Tim, who was an honorary PTSMC team member for the day. The race was a 3.1-mile course with 12 obstacles, including a mud crawl under barbed wire and a cargo net climb to a giant water/mud slide called Goliath!
Events like the Warrior Dash, often called “Obstacle Course Races” or “Adventure Races,” have become a popular way to get active with friends while avoiding the traditional monotony of gym workouts and distance running. On any given weekend from spring through fall in Connecticut there is likely an obstacle race happening in your area – you’ll recognize them by names like “Zombie Race,” “Mud Run” or “Tough Mudder” – and your social media newsfeed might be inundated with pictures of friends covered in dirt or neon spray paint, sweaty but smiling.
These events can offer new opportunities for achieving a healthy and active life while still having fun with friends. While many fitness endeavors that aren’t team competitions tend towards solo activities or indoor group classes, events like the Warrior Dash create venues for physical activity based on exciting challenges and group support. This fun and supportive environment can be helpful in kick-starting or rekindling interest in physical activity, and can make a long and daunting obstacle course less intimidating.
“The race was tough for me because I don’t actively work out like the rest of my team does, but I finished and was happy about it,” Stevie Fell said after the Warrior Dash. She also indicated that this might be the beginning of a more active lifestyle, saying, “the event really jump-started me going back to the gym, and I’m excited to try another course like this in the future.”
Obstacle Races are part of another broad trend in fitness: mixed modal training. This type of activity combines various types of activities into single workouts, emphasizing total body fitness focused on equal parts cardiovascular health and strength-training. Examples of this popular type of activity include High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Crossfit and Piloxing (Pilates-Boxing). The advantage of Obstacle Racing comes in its team environment, in which friends experience the challenge and satisfaction of completing the course together, and often have to mentally and physically help each other reach the finish line.
There are also risks to this type of training, and as physical therapists we see the consequences often in our clinics. Mixed modal training, when performed incorrectly or to a degree your body is not prepared for, can easily cause injuries such as muscle tears, sprains, strains and even broken bones. It’s important to know your body’s limits, receive proper training and even get a movement evaluation and orthopedic screening before jumping into such strenuous physical activity. Your local PT can let you know where you may have muscle imbalances, deficiencies and movement limitations and provide you with exercises and techniques to correct these issues before they become bigger problems. If an injury does occur, a physical therapist will be able to diagnose it and set a course for recovery so you can get back to your activities as quickly as possible. Always remember that, in Connecticut, you don’t need a prescription or a doctor’s referral for an initial evaluation or an injury assessment.
Obstacle Races marry challenging physical activity with the opportunity to have fun with friends, so their increasing popularity comes as no surprise. In addition, the combination of cardio and strength-training can yield numerous health benefits and get you on track to reach your highest level of physical fitness. Keep an eye out for events like the Warrior Dash in your area, but always keep your body’s limits in mind. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to schedule an evaluation, contact one of our 19 offices!