How to Avoid the Most Common Triathlon Injuries
In the second of our triathlon features, we look at some of the most common injuries and ways to prevent them.
With the postponement of the 2020 London Triathlon until next year, some people have seen this as an opportunity to think about training for their first ever triathlon. But there are many things you need to consider before embarking on such an endeavour. In our previous post on the subject, we discussed the very specific demands of a triathlon and some thoughts on planning your training. Now, as promised, we’re here to advise you on the most common injuries that triathletes experience and offer some tips on how to avoid them.
The most common injuries arise from repetitive strain, or overuse of certain body parts, so it’s important to approach your training carefully, with proper technique and increase your distances gradually.
IT Band Syndrome
The Illiotibial Band (ITB) is the long collection of connective tissue running from your hip, down your thigh and to your knee. The ITB plays an important role in leg stability, particularly in protecting the outside of your knee whilst running, but it can become inflamed through overuse caused by excessive cycling and running, which can lead to IT Band Syndrome (ITBS). The best way to avoid ITBS is to keep your progress gradual and steady. If you suddenly increase the distances of your cycling and running training, you will also increase the risk of injury.
If you are experiencing tightness in your ITB you can try this foam roller massage technique at home. For more detailed information about ITB pain, the range of causes and how to fix it, read our longer post here.
Triathletes are at a high risk of injury to tendons in the shoulders, caused by swimming, as well as injuries to tendons around the knees and ankles, caused by cycling and running.
An important factor to understand, when discussing these types of injuries, is the difference between tendonitis and tendinosis.
Tendonitis generally involves inflammation of a tendon caused by a sudden, acute injury. But if you experience this regularly, you may actually have tendinosis, which can often be diagnosed as chronic tendonitis.
Tendinosis is different because it's the degeneration of a tendon that can occur without inflammation and it's often caused when a tendon is repeatedly damaged but not given enough time and adequate treatment to heal properly. You may already have historic tendon injuries from playing other sports and these might flare up again during your triathlon training if they are not managed properly.
If we compare the recovery time between tendonitis and tendinosis, you’ll see the importance of a correct diagnosis. Generally, an acute case of tendonitis requires a recovery time of two to three days. More chronic cases can take four to six weeks to heal properly. But if what you are actually experiencing is tendinosis, then you’re looking at two to three months recovery time for an acute case and three to six months if your condition is diagnosed as chronic. That’s going to have a significant impact on your triathlon training!
The best way to avoid injury to your tendons is to build up the whole range of muscles around them. So, make sure your triathlon training also includes strength training for all muscle groups. Overworking one particular body part can lead to these kinds of overuse injuries. Resistance band workouts are great for strength training, you don’t necessarily need to go to the gym and lift weights. Try these great shoulder exercises to strengthen your rotator cuff and help protect your tendons when swimming.
Some of the tendon injuries and ITBS that we've discussed above can be associated with knee pain, but there are a range of other specific knee injuries that triathletes can experience. The knee is an incredibly complex joint and the pain may be associated with a number of different factors.
There are up to eleven bursae in and around the knee joint. These small sacks filled with synovial fluid help reduce friction between tendons and bones when you move your knee. But overuse and/or improper running and cycling technique can cause swelling of the bursa and lead to bursitis.
The knee joint contains cartilage and a number of ligaments as well, which can be subjected to wear and tear and this can also be a cause of knee pain. Because of the complex nature of this joint, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a physiotherapist if you’re feeling any knee pain.
One important factor in avoiding knee pain is to ensure that your bike is correctly fitted to suit your height and body type.
These injuries are common in the hips, legs and feet and can be caused by the repetitive impact of running on hard ground. This kind of shock can take a toll on your body if you don’t take the time to allow your body to properly adjust to more intensive training. It’s super important to invest in good running shoes that will absorb the shock and also to use your rest days properly to give your body time to recover.
Very often, the types of injuries listed above are caused by improper technique and/or using the wrong equipment. We can discuss these issues with you and tailor a strength and conditioning program specifically for your needs.
Why not call us today on 0203 893 5100 or book your initial assessment session online.