What are the most common triathlon injuries, and how do you avoid them?

New to triathlon and worried about injuring yourself? Nick Beer explains the new demands put on your body, and the most common tri injuries, with tips on how you can strengthen your body to prevent them

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As a newbie to triathlon, you’re in for a very exciting journey. There will be loads of amazing races to choose from (when life returns to normal!) and like-minded people to meet. Your passion for swimming, cycling and running will grow exponentially as you immerse yourself in the opportunities of the sport. There’s an exciting road ahead and, if you pay attention to the warning signs, it shouldn’t be too bumpy a journey!

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Starting any sport for the first time, it’s important to have an idea of the demands involved on the body. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being super motivated and incredibly keen. Although these traits are important for longevity, they can also be detrimental to our short-term progression. We may end up skipping the basics, learning incorrect techniques and, therefore, putting our body at risk of injury.

Most common triathlon injuries are caused from overuse or over training. This typically occurs if we increase our mileage too quickly. Triathlon training repeatedly stresses our muscles, tendons and soft tissues around the joints and bones, and applying continuous stress, usually results in repetitive microtrauma. However, if we decide to ignore the pain and inflammation and continue to push our bodies with insufficient repair and recovery time, this will consequently lead to larger macrotraumas. This may destructively lead to a disruption of the tendon, muscle and bone, which could keep us out of the sport for weeks or months.

The most common triathlon injuries to be aware of are:

ITB syndrome

Tendinopathies (in the Achilles)

Bursitis (most commonly causing shoulder pain)

Stress fractures 

Medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints)

To ensure our body stays bullet proof, strengthening specific areas will help prevent injuries and keep our training consistent.

Ultimately, recovery is the number one priority. Sufficient rest between sessions will ensure our muscles repair and come back stronger. However, adding specific gym-based exercises, will make the recovery stick and help maintain muscular strength for longer.

When selecting a strength-based gym programme, include exercises that target hip hinging, squatting, lunging, pushing and pulling, and core strength. This movement routine targets the main areas of the body needed to develop strength. See below for examples of strength exercises that are essential to include in your gym programme:

Squats: target glutes, quads and hamstrings
Lunges:
variation of backward, forward and side  Deadlifts – hip-hinge specific
Lat pull-downs: pull-based exercise
Press-ups: push-based exercise
Core strength: use plank and side plank.

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