Triathlons are very testing on our body and due to the three disciplines involved, swimming, running and cycling, means the three different sports, each take their own toll on your body. Each of the sports has its own set of common injuries, these will be covered in this section.
- Swimmers shoulder - the shoulder joint is the area most commonly affected through swimming and overuse. Shoulder injuries can include shoulder impingement (normally of the rotator cuff), biceps tendonitis and shoulder instability.
- Knee injuries - the ligaments and tendons in the knees are common injury spots for swimmers who do breast stroke. This abnormal movement can increase pressure on this soft tissue causing injury.
- Lower back - using dolphin kick and breast stroke can place extra pressure on spinal discs and on the pelvis causing misalignments and spinal slippages.
- Muscle strains – these can include injuries in the rotator cuff, trapezius, deltoids, pectorals, lower back and groin. These can largely be avoided by warming up with some easy lengths before going for any speed or distance.
- Head injuries - bumps to the head from falling off your bike can cause compression in the cervical spine (neck) which can lead to neck pain, shoulder pain and weakness in the arms.
- Shoulder injuries – when falling off your bike the shoulders can often take a large amount of the impact. This can cause compression of the joints, dislocations, fractures, sprains and local bruising.
- Knee injuries – most knee injuries are related to over-use due to the repetitive motion involved with cycling. Injuries can include symptoms similar to runners knee, chondromalacia patella and iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome.
- Heel pain – this is most commonly caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis. This is a painful soft tissue swelling that comes on with over-use, ill fitting shoes or a bike that is the wrong size or set up for you. Heel pain is often sharp and occurs when you put weight on the heel. It can feel like someone is sticking something sharp in your heel, or as if you’re walking on sharp stones.
- Achilles pain – your achilles is the tough rubbery cord at the base of your calf muscle. This can often become inflamed from over-use. You may have pain and swelling at the back of the ankle or heel. The pain may be minor but continuous, or it could be sudden and sharp. It may be worse first thing in the morning.
- Lower back injuries - lower back injuries can occur through the posture which is adopted in road cycling. This posture can place pressure on the lumbar discs and can often irritate previous injuries.
- Muscle strains – these can include injuries in the calves, hamstrings, quads and hips. These can largely be avoided by warming up before riding and cooling down and stretching afterwards.
- Lower back injuries – lower back injuries are more common in people with a history of lower back problems. The most common lower back injuries include disc herniation and muscle strains. These can be from bending down and stretching, constant impact of pounding the pavement or awkward movements while running cross country.
- Muscle strains – these can include injuries in the calves, hamstrings, quads, hips and groin strains. These can largely be avoided by warming up before with a gentle jog and cooling down and stretching afterwards.
- Ankle - due to the constant impact from running and the uneven ground when running cross country, can put the ankles under pressure causing muscle strain and ligament sprains.
- Shin pain – which is also known as shin splints. This can be caused by the repetitive motion during running and can cause damage to the muscles attaching to the front of your tibia (lower leg), causing pain and localised swelling.
- Hip pain – the repetitive and constant impact force from running can cause hip pain. This is usually in older people or those who are over weight. Poor technique can also play a factor.
- Knee pain – which is also known as runners knee, is the most common complaint from runners and is caused by swelling under the knee cap. During your run, you may develop pain at the front of the knee, around the knee or behind the kneecap. The pain may be dull or it could be sharp and severe.
- Heel pain - this is most commonly caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis. This is a painful soft tissue swelling that comes on with over-use, poor running technique or ill fitting shoes. Heel pain is often sharp and occurs when you put weight on the heel. It can feel like someone is sticking something sharp in your heel, or as if you’re walking on sharp stones.
- Achilles pain - your achilles is the tough rubbery cord at the base of your calf muscle. This can often become inflamed from over-use. You may have pain and swelling at the back of the ankle or heel. The pain may be minor but continuous, or it could be sudden and sharp. It may be worse first thing in the morning.
How to avoid these injuries?
- A good fitness regime to strengthen your core muscles and improve your overall fitness level
- An efficient warm-up and stretching routine to prepare your muscles before hitting the water, pavement or getting on the bike. This will lower the chance of straining your muscles.
- Rest days are just as important as your training days. Give your body a chance to rest, recover and heal.
- Get some personal training! Even if you are an experienced triathlete, it can be easy to fall into bad habits. A personal trainer who specialises in triathlons will pick up any flaws in your technique and recommend ways in which you can improve your performance.
- Chiropractic care to maintain your spinal health.
Many triathlon related injuries respond very well to Chiropractic adjustments which aim to encourage efficient joint motion, increase flexibility, reduce muscle tightness and improve alignment.
Not sure whether Chiropractic is the right option for you?
If you’re unsure whether Chiropractic treatment is the right option for you, then please come in for a free 20 minute consultation where we can discuss the reason for your visit, do a quick spine check and explain how we may be able to help. To book this free consultation please contact the clinic on 01243 913923, or click here to make an appointment online.