Spartan Race Analyzes How Movement Influences Injury Potential

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Spartan Race, an international obstacle course racing series, discusses the benefits of alternative locomotion and how range of motion affects human movement.

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On May 10, Spartan Race explores how human mobility impacts movement in an obstacle course race or mud run.

According to the Spartan blog, all forms of human movement can be broken into three planes of motion: the sagittal plane, the frontal plane and the transverse plane. Injuries usually occur due to dominance in one plane of motion over another. The most common injury that occurs on the Spartan Race course is a rolled ankle, followed by “separation of the acromioclavicular joint of the shoulder” and “injury to the rotator cuff muscles”.

Joe Di Stefano, co-founder of Spartan Coaching, says that these shoulder injuries can be attributed to “sagittal plane dominated posture,” which results in, “dysfunctional length-tension relationships among the muscles surrounding vulnerable joints”. These injuries occur mainly because individuals do not perform exercises that involve their own body weight. In addition, “Ankle and shoulder injuries are common because our bodies are built and trained for forward [motion], while these body parts are about all ranges of motion.”

Di Stefano suggests that “alternative locomotion” exercises will help improve an individual’s posture and muscle utility. It will also get the ankles and shoulders accustomed to the rigors of an obstacle course race, like the Spartan Race. Alternative locomotive movements, unlike weight training, “will expose the body to its own weight and force the shoulder to be stable despite being confronted with multidirectional forces acting on it.” Simultaneously, “the core is being forced to stabilize the torso yet still transfer energy between the upper and lower body.”

Di Stefano provides a few alternative locomotion warm-up exercises:

  •     “Bear Crawl x 15’”
  •     “Lateral Ape, Left x 15’”
  •     “Lateral Ape, Right x 15’”
  •     “Reverse Bear Crawl x 15’”

Spartan Race, voted Outside Magazine’s Best Obstacle Race in 2012, is the world’s leading obstacle race series and the first of its kind to have global rankings. Spartan Race is a timed event series featuring races at three escalating distances in locations worldwide that culminate in a World Championship Finale with cash and prizes for the champions. While featuring competitive elite heats, Spartan Races are for athletes of all levels and abilities and are geared towards ripping people off their couches and into the outdoors. Go to for more information, a schedule of events or to register for a Spartan Race. For videos, please visit


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Scott Darrohn
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