Mud runs and obstacle courses are becoming ever more popular for those looking to get fit and have fun at the same time.
Running, crawling, climbing, negotiating tyres, ropes and slippery mud all make for an enjoyable day out but the activity is intense and can be dangerous.
Here are the three top vital training tips that will help keep you injury free, allow you to become more agile and improve your functional performances throughout the fun challenge ahead.
Tip 1: Improve mobility and decrease any risk of injury
Our muscles are surrounded by fascia, akin to a fabric which can become tight due to our sitting down for long periods of time. This causes the muscles to shorten and leads to lack of blood circulation and decreases mobility in our joints. Restricted facia causes dysfunction in our structure and movement. Therefore, it is essential we address these retrictions prior to the obstacle mud run.
The muscles that tend to be tight on most of us are at the front of hips and legs. The technique to loosen them is called Myofascia release and you can use different tools – such as a medicine ball, PVC pipe or a baseball – but they should be dense in material as this is key to help break down the tight fascia that is restricting mobility in the muscles and joints.
Step 1: Lie facing down over the object with your elbows placed on the matt underneath you.
Step 2: Start above your knee and be sure to get the full spectrum from above the patella (knee joint) all the way up towards to hips (pelvis) as you roll over the object.
Be sure to not roll on the knee joint itself.
Step 3: Slowly work your way up to each tender point in the thigh, holding and breathing into that area for 2-5 mins.
Step 4: Work your way up the thigh all the way to pelvis.
Step 5: You can also do an active release as you slowly bend the knee and continue to do so as you move through each tender point.
Tip 2: Improve your balance on slippery surfaces
In most gyms, you will find balance equipment that will help you train your proprioception. One of my favorite tools is a Bosu ball, meaning both sides up. For the exercise below you will need to flip the Bosu ball upside down, flat side up.
The Bosu squat is also great to challenge your center of gravity dynamics as standing on the instrument forces the body to center itself.
Step 1: Safely stand on the Bosu ball with your feet pointing straightforward.
Step 2: Bend your arms at 90 degrees and pull back your shoulder blades.
Step3: Slowly hinge your hips back while trying to sit your weight back into your heels. Note that you should not perform a full squat.
It is ok to allow the knees to come forward slightly past your ankles
Step 4: Keep your chest lifted and upright and your shoulder blades retracted throughout.
Step 5; Now slowly come up. As you do so, it is vital that you allow your knees to straighten first before you finish off the end range of movement, straitening up from your hips.
You may notice a considerable amount of shaking. If you do, don’t worry as this is normal as you are challenge the neuromuscular system.
Tip 3: Improve your dynamic function
This contralateral step pull exercise activates the muscles in your posterior oblique system (your butt, legs and abs).
Step 1: Stand in a staggered stance position with one leg forward and one leg kicked back with your back heel off the ground.
Step 2: Stand with the arm correlating to the back leg holding the resistance band and the opposite arm stretched out in front of you.
Step 3: Keep your Thoracic spine (mid-back) extended, keep your hips slightly back and posteriorally tilt your pelvis (tuck under your hips). Draw your navel in to activate your core muscles
Step 4: Firmly step back with your front leg and at the same time pull the resistance band with the same arm. The opposite arm should remain straight infront of you
Do not allow your upper body to bend forward - Keep your back upright
Try not to allow any twisting movement to come from your hips, instead, allow for any rotation (twisting) to come from thoracic spine (which is the middle part of your back) this way you will also be working your abdominal muscles correctly.
There are no given sets or reps for exercise given it more about performing then with good form and activating the key muscles correctly.