Getting injured whilst participating in triathlon is incredibly common. Around 75% of all triathletes will suffer from injury during their racing career, rising to 91% for Ironman (long distance) triathletes. Overuse is the most common cause of injury – which is good news as that is something we can manage – usually occurring in the lower leg or ankle, knees, low back or shoulders. Occasionally injuries will be due to some kind of trauma, most likely falling off the bike!
Written by Wendy Casterton, Physiotherapist
In order to participate in triathlon it is necessary to train across the three disciplines of swim, bike and run and as such we will perform thousands of arm strokes, pedal revolutions and running strides. High volume repetition of the same movements renders the involved structures vulnerable to damage, potentially leading to injury. Whilst some break down to muscle fibres for example, is a necessary and inevitable by-product of training, without the requisite recovery period, longer-term damage can occur.
Physiotherapy can help
Whether you have an injury caused by direct trauma or due to overuse, early intervention physiotherapy treatment and advice can help minimise the potential impact of the injury on your future training and racing plans. Injuries can be treated in the clinic to firstly reduce pain levels, promote healing and minimise compensations. Secondly, with overuse injuries, we can help to identify and address what caused it in the first place. Causes of overuse injuries are manifold and often multifactorial. Clearly there is a risk of overuse if you significantly increase your training volume in a short period of time. This will really magnify any movement dysfunctions due to asymmetry or other biomechanical issues. However, it may be that you are consistently following a periodised and progressive plan but your work stress levels, sleep quality, fluid or nutrition habits are compromising your recovery ahead of your next scheduled training session. Things are rarely as simple as they seem!
If you are keen to participate in triathlon or are happily doing so but wish to minimise your risk of an overuse injury, a functional physiotherapy assessment is a great place to start. By assessing your movement patterns and load capacity we can identify any areas of potential weakness and put in place a home exercise or strength and conditioning programme to reduce the risk of injury occurring. We can also help with maximising recovery as well as advice on training, equipment, nutrition and hydration, referring on to more specialised individuals in these areas as and when appropriate.
Written by Wendy Casterton, Physiotherapist, In Touch Physiotherapy, Singapore