As a triathlete, the demands on your body will be different from other athletes, as you’re focusing efforts on three separate disciplines, each putting unique demands on your body. Chances are you’ll encounter an injury at one point or another during your triathlon career. Taking proper precautions and learning about injury prevention will help you avoid injuries and the resulting downtime. General injury prevention guidelines:
- Always warm-up prior to exercising. A good warm-up will loosen the muscles and prepare them for heavy usage.
- Learn how to stretch... then do it regularly. Stretching will increase your flexibility which can help keep you injury free.
- Cross train with weights to build muscle strength in supporting muscles that you may not work as hard while training for each sport.
- Look for signs of overtraining and listen to your body. Even though it may be hard, taking time off to let the body recover is a good thing.
Below are some of the most common injuries suffered during triathlon training and preventative measures you can take.
The most common injury a triathlete will encounter during swimming training is pain in the shoulder area. Shoulder aches can be an early sign of tendonitis. Underdeveloped shoulder muscles and/or poor swim technique can lead to tendonitis in the shoulder. If you are not sure if your swim technique is correct, you may want to locate a coach or find a Masters swim class to receive feedback on your stroke and get instruction on the proper swim technique. To combat underdeveloped shoulder muscles, try cross training with weights to develop muscles in the shoulder area.
Overtraining and improper bike fit are the most common causes of aches and pains during cycling training. An improper bike fit puts your body in a bad riding position and causes aches and pains to flare up in different parts of the body, specifically the neck, lower back, waist, knees, hips, and feet. If you are not sure about your riding position, find a reputable person to fit you to your bike. Keep in mind that as you begin to ride more, your proper riding position could change, so adjustments may be needed during the season.
Running is the highest impact of the three disciplines. There are several different injuries that can occur. You can help prevent many running injuries by following the general injury prevention guidelines and purchasing a good pair of running shoes. You should replace your running shoes often as they will wear down and lose their effectiveness. Frequency for replacing your shoes depends on the shoe construction and material and what type of runner you are. More serious runners may replace their shoes as often as every 250 miles, where as the everyday runner may replace their shoes every 600 miles. If your training volume has remained unchanged and you begin to feel new aches and pains in your foot or knee, it may be a sign that it is time to replace your running shoes.