Go Triathlete

Injury Training and Recovery for Triathletes

Given the repetitive nature of triathlon training, it’s not terribly uncommon that over-use injuries come about. In the event such an injury arises, training can still proceed without a hitch as long as you’re open and honest with yourself about how you feel; there are times to push through the pain (e.g. muscle fatigue in a race) and others times where you’re better off calling it quits for the day. Training with an injury definitely falls into a gray area and is open to debate, but the following suggestions should keep you on track for your next event.

First and foremost, if immobilization is ever recommended, then you’re are better off following a prescribed recovery plan administered by a licensed medical professional. If you’re not in that category, then carry on.

Injury Treatment with R.I.C.E.

If you develop a nagging pain, soreness, or tightness somewhere, say, in your Achilles, it’s likely due to inflammation or irritation of a tendon. To quickly review, a tendon attaches bone to muscle. The most common recipe for recovery is R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and is an excellent guide to follow. Of course, it’s very wise to have a medical professional confirm what the problem may be.

While Rest is almost always the best way to help eradicate an injury, remaining completely inactive is often of little benefit. Maintaining light activity keeps the blood flowing and the better the circulation, often times, the faster the recovery. In the event your Achilles is bothering you, after a thorough warm-up including self massage with a foam roller or the like, “run” on an elliptical, which will allow you to mimic the running motion without any impact and further aggravation.

As soon as your session is completed, which should not be either terribly long nor strenuous, lightly stretch the affected area and Ice as soon as possible! Generally speaking, 10 - 15 minutes of icing is ideal. Warming the area through exercise will encourage better circulation and the icing will limit subsequent inflammation. A step that is omitted from R.I.C.E. and ought to be added is Massage. Lightly massaging the affected area with a personal kit a few times a day will again increase circulation and expedite the healing process. Graston Technique is another good option, but is better performed by a medical professional. If you opt for Graston, icing immediately afterwards is imperative!

R.I.C.E. does not necessarily imply the order in which the remedies should be carried out, because Compression is particularly helpful almost all of the time. For instance, compression garments should be worn to protect the affected area any time you go for a workout; they stabilize and improve circulation over the area in which they are worn. In a sense, wearing compression during training is almost like pre-recovery recovery.

Lastly, there’s Elevation, which is meant to promote circulation. Notice a theme here? Elevation is easily done, as all you have to do is get the affected area higher than your heart. In regards to time, 8 - 10 minutes ought to do it or until you get that tingling sensation in your limb.

Following R.I.C.E., plus “M” however you want to add it, after each workout should greatly help you on your way to a full recovery without losing too much fitness. Taking an anti-inflammatory post-workouts is also a good option, along with doing specific exercises to strengthen the affected area. Most importantly, honestly ask yourself how you feel and don’t be afraid to call off a workout. Missing one workout to allow for more rest is a much better option than having to be forced into an early off-season!