Obstacle races have gotten incredibly popular over the last few years, for obvious reasons: They break up the monotony of running a 5k (or more) with cool challenges, giving distracted and bored brains something to do instead of count steps. But with what’s demanded of your body in these races, you’re open to a new set of potential injuries — most commonly, pulled hamstrings.
A hamstring pull often occurs when attempting to extend your leg with a lot of force, like attempting to jump over water. You’re especially susceptible to a hamstring pull if you have weak and restricted hamstrings. They can become overworked when the body places an increased demand on this muscle group instead of utilizing other important muscles like the glutes, lats, calves, and core to achieve posterior chain (the back side of the body) stability. The body needs to distribute the workload across multiple muscle groups for efficient output. At a race event, overcompensation leading to a pulled hamstring is most often seen at the end of the course.
To save yourself the pain of a pull, it’s vital that you target your posterior chain during a proper warm-up. Just like a race car needs to let its engine rev before a race, your body needs to be warmed before you hoist a tire, climb a wall, or crawl through the mud. A proper warm-up helps increase the elasticity of your muscles, floods the muscles with blood, raises the temperature of the muscles, and releases adrenaline and other chemicals you will need for the race.
Here’s how to rev that engine.