3 common Triathlete injuries & how to deal with them yourself May 18 2012

Triathletes are extremely motivated beings who have only one thing on their minds, getting to the end in one piece! Unfortunately 3 disciplines mean’s 3 times more potential for injury! Here’s a quick guide to some common injuries & how to avoid needless pain.


Swim Phase:


1.     Shoulder Pain/Impingement

What is it:

Impingement often happens when the muscles controlling the shoulder (Rotator Cuff) &/or other soft tissues become trapped between the humerus (upper arm bone) & the acromion (shoulder blade). This can cause pain & weakness often leading to a muscle tear.

What to do

  • Make sure you stroke is optimum if not book a couple of swim lessons to ensure you are not over reaching on one arm
  • Try breathing on both sides of your body by rolling so that you stretch out with both arms evenly
  • Build up your shoulder strength with some theraband. Tie a Knott in one end & feed it through a door. Push/Pull up & over your head mimicking the movement of the arm stroke in front crawl


Bike Phase:


2.     Low back pain

What is it:

There can be many causes of back pain but often the stabilising muscles of the back become weakened after being held in a lengthened position for too long as when riding in a low position. This may lead to disc bulges/prolapses which may press on the nerves running down the buttock/leg giving you leg pain or sciatica 

What to do:

  • Ensure that your saddle height is set up for you. Stood next to your bike the saddle should be level with the top of your pelvis.
  • Practice in different cycling positions at different paces. If you’re not used to a low racing position your back will take all the pressure & this will slow you down so get familiar with the ride.
  • Activate your deep pelvic floor muscles whilst on the bike. Try pulling in your tummy muscles as if stopping yourself from peeing.


Run Phase:


3.     Illiotibial (IT) Band syndrome

What is it:

A band of connective tissue that runs down the side of your leg designed to stabilise your hip & knee. This is attached to the large glut muscles in your backside and can become tight, pressing on the bony outcropping on the side of your hip. This may cause pain anywhere down the outside of your leg/hip and change the way that you feet hit the ground.

What to do:

  • Do not overtrain! Be smart with your mileage & while you need to be able to do the distance you need to back off in the last 2 weeks     leading up to race day.
  • Add ‘Brick Training’ in the build-up to race day. This simply means practicing 2 disciplines at a shorter distance but adding in some speed work. This will help you get used to transitions and will give you a great workout without stomping out the miles.
  • Get a foam roller. Before & after your race spend 5-10 minutes rolling the side of your leg up & down the roller. This will help to loosen off any tightness and help you run much easier making you use up less energy.


Remember if you injured it is safer not to race at all. You must seek attention and visit your local physio who can advise you on your situation and how to avoid further injury.

Most Importantly enjoy yourself!


For more information on how to train for a triathlon - http://fitedia.com/collections/printed-books/products/triathlon-101-2nd-edition