Training for a triathlon? Triathlon stretching exercises to improve your performance and help do away with Triathlon injuries.
A triathlon is an extreme athletic competition that is comprised of three events: swimming, cycling and running. To win you have to be the best overall performer in all three. One of the most important parts of triathlon training is not just the individual sports, but the transitions. When the competitor is forced to switch quickly from one sport to the next, the demands on the body are extreme.
Did You Know…Triathlon started in Hawaii. A debate between friends as to who was the better athlete: a swimmer, a cyclist or a runner, it was suggested that a competition be staged that incorporated all three sports, with the winner being declared the best athlete of them all.
The competition level of a triathlon is so intense that there is very little of the body that is spared. The true workhorses of it all, used in every facet of the race, have to be the legs. Whether swimming, cycling or running, the majority of the punishment and torture is focused on the legs. From the quadriceps to the hamstrings to the knees, ankles and feet, the pounding, and flexion takes its toll over the gruelling miles, on the road, on the bike or in the water.
The next in line on the circuit of muscles that will require special attention in training are the arms. From the biceps to the triceps, the rotator cuff, the elbow, the wrist, deltoids and abs, all of it gets to play center stage during the swimming portion of the competition.
The best preparation, physically, for this type of endurance competitions, is to be certain that all of your muscles, tendons and ligaments remain as flexible and strong as possible. Aerobic and cardiovascular strengths are also a huge part of the body being used in this type of activity.
Most Common Triathlon Injuries
Training for, and competing in a triathlon requires hours of rigorous exercise and practice. One of the most common problems associated with the sport of triathlon is overtraining; or not giving your body the rest it requires to stay fit, healthy and injury free.
Another major concern, during training and competition is dehydration and exhaustion. It is far too easy to tire out, and forget to keep yourself hydrated, because there are no real rest breaks during the race, simply transitions from one phase to another. You are literally going from one race to another with very little time to catch your breath, let alone be able to drink enough water to keep you safely hydrated.
If you are suffering from heat exhaustion, your balance and vision may be affected, and you can easily trip or stumble while running, or fall off of your cycle. A triathlon is hands-down the most strenuous sport in the world, and the list of potential injuries reflects that.
Injury Prevention Strategies
The best prevention tip of all is to be as fit, flexible and strong as you can possibly be, before even beginning to train for this type of competition.
Strength training for endurance purposes, combined with aerobic and cardiovascular training is also recommended.At some point in your training, it is recommended that you add sprint training in all three phases of the competition, to build up strength endurance in swimming, cycling and running.
Top tips to reduce the risk of injuries during triathlon training and competition.
- Cool Down: Allow an adequate cool-down period and perform after training or competition stretching.
- Footwear: The majority of the punishment during the running phase of the race will fall on your feet, and the proper footwear can often mean the difference between running injury free or annoying lower leg injuries. Read More About Footwear
- Gear: You simply have to have the proper gear for every phase of the sport, including a quality cycle helmet and protective eye wear. The importance of maintaining your bike must also be a priority.
- Rest: After training, you need rest, period. Making sure that you get enough “down-time” and sleep every day, not only on training days, will ensure that your body will adapt to the physical training quicker, and reduces the risk of injuring yourself before you get the chance to compete.
- Stay Hydrated: Stay well hydrated by drinking water every 20-30 minutes even if you do not feel thirsty. Dehydration leads to fatigue, nausea, and disorientation, all factors that can result in falls and spills.
- Strength & Conditioning: Strength training leads to reduced potential for injury as it increases the strength of the muscles as well as that of the supporting joints and tendons. Agility training is particularly helpful to the triathlete as it works to improve the ability of the body to quickly adapt to a change in direction, motion and velocity.
- Stretching: Stiff joints and muscles will ultimately lead to injured joints and muscles so improving the flexibility of the body will also work to decrease the likelihood of injury. Stretching is a key ingredient to any warm up routine and plays an important role in improving flexibility as it increases the range of motion in joints and the elasticity of muscles.
- Training Aids: Braces and supports can be very beneficial if you have a history of repetitive injuries. Any known weak area of your body should be protected and supported throughout training and competition, especially the joints.
- Warm Up: Always warm-up properly prior to training and especially competition.
The Top 3 Triathlon Stretches
Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for triathlon; obviously there are a lot more, but because triathlon uses just about every muscle in the body it’s hard to just pick 3!
Reaching-up Shoulder Stretch:
Place one hand behind your back and then reach up between your shoulder blades.
Kneeling Upper Hip & Quad Stretch:
Kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance and then push your hips forward.
Standing Toe-up Achilles Stretch:
Stand upright and place the ball of your foot onto a step or raised object. Bend your knee and lean forward.