Eight Steps to an Injury-free Triathlon Season

Date Posted: 24-Jun-2016

Written by APA titled Sports Physio Britt Caling

Eight Steps to an Injury-free Triathlon Season

  • 1.Learn your body type and your individual body needs
  • Obviously we all have different genetics and different rates of adaptation to training, and recovery from training. Given this, it is important that you consider your individual body needs when it comes to reducing your injury risk. Not all of us need to stretch every muscle and not all of us need to strengthen every muscle. In order to identify which muscle/joints you need to make more flexible to allow you to perform better and to reduce your risk of injury through the season as a Triathlete, and to help identify area’s you may need to work on control/stability or strength, consider seeing a Sports Physio to perform a Triathlon Musculoskeletal (MSK) Screening. 
  • MSK Screenings have been used by all major Sports Institutes/Organisations for many years now to help identify each athlete’s individual weaknesses in relation to the sport they do. The results of an MSK Screening will ensure you don’t waste time stretching area’s that don’t need to be stretched for you as a triathlete and will help direct you on area’s that you do need to focus on. (Find more detailed information via the Gold Coast Physio & Sports Health website www.mygcphysio.com.au)
  • 2.Body Maintenance
  • Make sure you include body maintenance strategies as part of your training (and not consider these additional to training). Body Maintenance strategies are things that will help maintain healthy, normal-tone tissues and include self massage, self triggers, roller massage and, of course, a visit to a trained experienced Massage Therapist. Check that your Massage Therapist understands triathlon and communicates with you so they are not wasting your valuable time working on area’s that are not important to you as a triathlete. You could also consider using a Sports Physio that works with triathletes for body maintenance.
  • 3.Recovery
  • Recovery is essential to the triathlete to ensure physiological and psychological processes are restored by the next training session. This will allow you to repeatedly perform good quality training and minimise the risk of getting injury. Strategies to consider include rest/sleep, nutrition, warm-down, massage, use of compression garments, psychological approaches such as relaxation, yoga, mental imagery and for the more serious competitors, use of ice baths.
  • 4.Follow a structured training program
  • Ideally use an accredited triathlon coach that can tailor a program for you based on your goals, your level of competition and experience, and your other life commitments such as family and work. Remember also that most triathlon injuries are related to running, with a higher number of running kilometres during pre-competition phase increasing the likelihood of injury during competition. Discuss this with your coach and particularly monitor running km’s during crucial phases, in addition to appropriate planning of competition to ensure you have training and competition peaks, so that you are not expecting yourself to perform week in, week out for the whole triathlon season.
  • 5.Try to include at least one strengthening/control/stability session in your program
  • Given the nature of triathlon with repeated motor patterns and repeated forces, mostly performed in the one plane, I believe it is crucial you include some form of tissue strengthening in your week. This will help build tissue resilience to the repeated forces and could take the form of strength training in functional classes or in the gym, pilates or with a personal trainer that understands the demands of triathlon.
  • 6.Work on technique
  • Technique plays a significant role in the forces our bodies need to control or overcome. Good technique usually means muscles are working most efficiently and this will generally reduce the forces our body must repeatedly control. Try to find a coach/squad that includes technique/drill work in their programs.
  • 7.Maintain your equipment
  • This includes your wetsuit (swimming in a wetsuit with big holes in it not only slows you down but may predispose you to hypothermia), your bike (the mechanical component of this is obvious but don’t forget about ensuring you have a good bike position and that this is rechecked from time to time) and replacing your running shoes at appropriate times.
  • 8.Listen to your body!
  • Triathletes are notoriously bad at this but you need to learn when to push and when to back off. Make sure you listen to your physical body by addressing any niggles before they interfere with your training, and don’t ever forget the power of having a ‘fresh and recovered’ mind.


Written by APA Titled Sports Physio Britt Caling

Gold Coast Physio & Sports Health


Ph 07 5500 6470


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