Summary

  • Orienteering involves running or walking while navigating by compass through challenging environments such as bushland.
  • If you are a beginner, participate in orienteering events held in smaller parks and stick to the ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ courses.
  • If lost or injured, stay still and blow your whistle six times at 10 second intervals, repeated every two minutes until help arrives.
Orienteering involves running or walking while you are navigating (with a compass) through challenging environments such as bushland. Orienteering organisations remove environmental hazards where possible, or clearly signpost them and warn all participants. At each event, you can choose a course ranging from easy to difficult. Instructors are found at each checkpoint.

Common injuries with orienteering

Common injuries include:
  • running injuries – such as shin splints, strains, sprains and blisters
  • overuse injuries – although orienteers run on soil rather than concrete or bitumen, they may still be vulnerable to overuse injuries
  • impact injuries – from falling on steep, rocky, slippery or loose terrain
  • eye injuries – from tree branches (or similar) whipping into the face
  • skin injuries – including abrasions, cuts, bruises, insect bites and sunburn.

Risk factors for injuries with orienteering

Some of the factors that can increase your risk of injury include:
Lack of physical conditioning – orienteers should make sure they are in good physical condition.
  • Inexperience – beginners who are unaccustomed to reading maps and using a compass may get lost, particularly if they choose a course that’s beyond their current skill and experience level.
  • Poor technique – for example, incorrect running technique can place excessive strain on joints and muscles.
  • Lack of appropriate clothing – neglecting to wear protective clothing, such as a long sleeved t-shirt and long pants, can result in injuries to the skin such as cuts from tree branches.

Recommendations for orienteering

Suggestions include:
  • Exercise regularly to keep yourself in good physical condition.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after the event to reduce the risk of dehydration.
  • Warm up thoroughly before orienteering. Include plenty of sustained stretches.
  • Incorporate stretching into your cool down routine.
  • Wear appropriate shoes. Make sure your shoes are comfortable. Don’t buy a new pair of shoes and try to ‘break them in’ during an orienteering event.

Orienteering safety tips – getting started

Suggestions include:
  • Strictly observe all rules, cautions and advice from event staff.
  • Make sure you fill out all the necessary paperwork at registration.
  • Participate in orienteering events held in smaller parks and stick to the ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ courses if you are a beginner.
  • Carry a whistle. You are required to blow on the whistle if you get injured or seriously lost. The emergency signal is six blasts at 10 second intervals, repeated every two minutes.

Safety tips on the track

Suggestions include:
  • Keep in mind that the most direct route is often the hardest. Study the map carefully and choose the most appropriate route for your skill and fitness level.
  • Wear a long-sleeved top and long trousers to reduce the risk of cuts and grazes, if you should fall.
  • Apply SPF 30+ sunscreen to all exposed skin areas. Reapply regularly. Wear sunglasses if conditions demand.
  • Wear a watch to keep track of time.
  • Keep your map inside a waterproof bag.
  • Observe the items listed in the ‘legend’ on your map, as this will provide important information about the terrain, features and potential hazards on the course.

If you or someone else is lost while orienteering

Suggestions include:
  • Make sure you understand what to do if you get lost or injured. It is recommended that you stay still and continue to blow the distress call according to emergency procedures on the whistle until help arrives.
  • Only blow the whistle if you are lost, injured or too exhausted to continue.
  • Try to find the hurt or lost competitor if you hear a distress whistle. You must abandon your course if you hear a distress whistle.
  • Make sure you have basic first aid training. You may be the first person to make contact with an injured orienteer.
  • Always return to registration at the end of the event even if you haven’t finished the course. If your name isn’t ticked off, the organisers will assume you are still somewhere on the course.

If you injure yourself while orienteering

Suggestions include:
  • Stop immediately if an injury occurs. Running ‘through’ the pain will only make your injury worse.
  • Seek prompt medical treatment for all injuries.
  • Treat all soft tissue injures (ligament sprains, muscle strains, bumps and bruises) according to the RICER approach with Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (raise the limb above your heart) and Referral –seek advice from a health professional.
  • Do not resume activity until you have completely recovered from injury.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Always call an ambulance in an emergency Tel. 000
  • Physiotherapist
  • Orienteering Victoria Tel. (03) 8846 4140
  • Smartplay Tel. (03) 9674 8777

Things to remember

  • Orienteering involves running or walking while navigating by compass through challenging environments such as bushland.
  • If you are a beginner, participate in orienteering events held in smaller parks and stick to the ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ courses.
  • If lost or injured, stay still and blow your whistle six times at 10 second intervals, repeated every two minutes until help arrives.
References

More information

Keeping active

The following content is displayed as Tabs. Once you have activated a link navigate to the end of the list to view its associated content. The activated link is defined as Active Tab

Keeping active basics

Getting started

Staying fit and motivated

Exercise safety and injury prevention

Keeping active throughout life

Health conditions and exercise

Content Partner

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Smartplay

Last updated: July 2013

Page content currently being reviewed.

Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health & Human Services shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.