Obstacle course racing (OCR): Are They Safe?

Obstacle Course Racing with Dr. Catherine Logan

Obstacle course racing (OCR) has become a popular sport in recent years as it challenges participants' mental and physical endurance through a combination of trail running and obstacles.

There is currently only a limited amount of published work reporting injury types or rates at these events. A study by Coleby et al aimed to build on the current literature by analyzing injury rates and patterns at OCR events. The authors performed a secondary data analysis of deidentified medical charts from 33 OCR events in Canada from 2015 to 2017 was conducted. The scope of on-site care was first aid.

What did the authors learn?

A total of 1782 injuries occurred over 3 seasons from 73,366 participants, with an overall average injury rate of 2.4%; 1.0% (n = 17) of injuries required emergency medical services transport to a local emergency department, and the majority of these injuries were musculoskeletal in nature.

The most common injuries treated were lacerations and musculoskeletal-related injuries; 93.9% of the injuries were able to be treated on site.

These findings, in conjunction with the published literature, suggest that OCR medical teams should anticipate injury rates of up to 5.0% and a transportation rate of approximately 4.5% of those injuries to local emergency departments.

What does this mean for you?

The majority of injuries may be treated on site (lacerations, etc), but there is still a serious potential for life-threatening emergencies to occur. Train well and invest in appropriate attire and equipment.

Dr. Catherine Logan Headshot Dr. Catherine Logan, MD, MBA Catherine Logan, MD, MBA, MSPT, is a sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon specializing in complex knee and shoulder surgery at Colorado Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics (COSMO) in Denver, Colorado. As a former physical therapist & trainer, Dr. Logan provides a distinct expertise in sports injury, prevention, and surgical management.

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