Dr. Brown gave USNews some insight about avoiding injury during obstacle courses.
Brian Boyle knows what it’s like to die. At the age of 18, a car accident shattered his ribs and pelvis, collapsed his lungs, lacerated several organs and caused him to lose 60 percent of his blood. He underwent 14 surgeries, eight resuscitations and 36 blood transfusions. Doctors doubted he’d have a future if he survived at all. “I was giving up, I was saying my prayers,” says Boyle, now 31.
Now, Boyle knows what it’s like to live. He’s completed five Ironman triathlons, 16 marathons, two ultramarathons and, in the past year alone, five obstacle course races, or events like the Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder and Spartan Race, that send participants on miles-long chases through mud, under barbed wire, over fire and more.
Still, such a sense of empowerment isn’t without risks. The Spartan Race’s participant waiver, for example, states that “the risk of serious injury and/or death … is signficant,” and warns that sprains, burns, hypothermia, animal bites, contact with poisonous plants and paralysis are all possible.
“Most of the injuries I see occur because of poor planning and preparation,” says Dr. Ernest Brown, founder of the house call service Doctors to You who has provided medical services on standby for over a dozen obstacle course racing events. Strains, breaks and muscle tears are particularly likely among people who haven’t properly stretched, he says.