Read time: 4min.
By Coach Yan Busset
Injuries sucks! They are a pain in the ass (well sometime they literally are…) You are in the flow, you train hard and... bummer…you need to hit the brakes because of a stupid injury. The frustration of these setbacks can be overwhelming, but imagine strategies that not only boosts performance but also actively prevents injuries. Let’s review together my pro coach tips to help you train smarter and stay injury-free.
Include Backstroke in your training sessions to activate antagonist muscles and strengthen your shoulders. This will also improve the strength of your front catch.
Use an elastic band to perform a muscle activation routine pre-session. Example moves include:
Band Pull-Aparts: Hold the band in front of you with both hands at shoulder width. Pull the band apart by moving your arms to the side, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Shoulder External Rotations: Hold the band with one hand and secure the other end. Keep your elbow close to your body and rotate your forearm outward, then return to the starting position.
Standing Band Rows: Secure the band at waist height and hold with both hands. Pull the band towards your waist, bending your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Pro triathlete Taylor Spivey (credit: @tkspivey), showing how it's done:
Technique: Get your technique checked by a pro. Poor swim technique won’t just make you slow but the repetition of incorrect moves over time can lead you to injuries, an over-crossing on the front of your stroke for example can induce higher stress on shoulders.
If you haven’t already done it: Get a professional bike fitting. Explain why it matters in injury prevention and also how it helps in being more comfortable on the saddle and generate more power. A pro bike fitter will check that the three contact points of your body on your bike (Handlebars, Saddle, and Pedal cleats) are adjusted according to your morphology and mobility limitations. It's useless to copy the position of a pro if you will have back pain after 20km and look like a postman on a 10k€ bike.
Another obvious bike injury prevention method is to invest in a proper, high-quality helmet. But most importantly, learn how to handle your bike properly! The best anti-bike crash strategy is to be able to avoid the crash in the first place! Especially for triathlete age groupers, it's something they spend too little or no time on. They learn to go hard and fast on a machine that they have a hard time handling and stopping. So please join some bike tech group sessions before going into the wild, especially if most of your training is done indoors. Go to an empty parking space and practice drills and slalom, learn the 'look mom, no hands' and many other tricks so you won’t be a danger to others, to your teammates, and to yourself. You will thank me later; it’s pretty wild to realize that with good bike handling techniques, you can avoid many close-call dangerous situations and realize that the centripetal force is with you, young Padawan!
Most injuries in triathlon come from running. Why? Because it has the highest physical impact, where in swimming and biking your body is carried/lifted. So when planning your training, do most of your aerobic volume on the bike and swim, and keep running volume more focused on quality than quantity.
Choice of Shoes: Think of your shoe choices as golf clubs; have the right shoes for the distance and terrain you will run on. Also, most injuries come from any changes, especially if you run a lot. A small change can have a great impact, so be progressive when starting with new shoes; don’t go directly into a full session with them, be progressive.
Technique: A couple of key points to prevent the most common injuries are to avoid overstriding and, for the same given pace, to aim for a higher stride frequency.
General Practice in Training:
Avoid junk miles and train at the right intensity. Spending too much time in the gray zone (zone 3) is highly inflammatory and not sustainable long term.
Mobility and Strength: Mobility is life, and life is mobility! Especially in this modern era, where we spend so much time in front of our phones and computers, we sit too much and often with bad posture, creating huge issues. You need to limit these and counteract with mobility exercises that will activate especially hip mobility, glutes, and hamstrings, and for the upper body, the neck and shoulder area. This will improve not only your speed and ability to swim, bike, and run with better technique and posture but also help you to stay injury-free. Also, pushing weights at the gym is one of the most avoided activities by endurance athletes but should be #1 in order of priority. One strength training session is equivalent to three training sessions in one! It’s good for swim, bike, and run, and also it’s a youth bath hormonally wise that will help you to stay fit and healthy in the long term. Example of mobility exercises:
Pigeon Pose: From a hands-and-knees position, slide one leg forward so your knee is between your hands and extend your other leg behind you. Square your hips and gently lean forward over your bent leg, feeling a stretch in your glutes and hips.
Scorpion Stretch: Lie face down with your arms extended to the sides. Lift one leg and twist your lower body to bring the foot towards the opposite hand. This stretches the lower back and hip flexors.
Deep Squat with Alternating Overhead Reach: Squat deeply with your feet shoulder-width apart. As you squat, lift one arm overhead, stretching your body. Alternate arms with each squat.
Recovery is key, and I might sound like a broken record, but sleep is numero uno. Training is just stressing your body; only the recovery behind it will allow it to overcompensate and build a better version of itself, otherwise, you just dig too deep and run toward injury or overtraining.
By adopting these tactics, you'll not only dodge injuries like a pro but also keep your training as smooth as the chamois cream feels in your bib short. So, gear up and swim, bike, and run without unwanted pit stops!
Thank you for reading and see you next week!
Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:
1. NEW! Join our Weekend Winter Training Camp 2024 at the Vierumäki Sports Institute (Heinola, Finland) 09.-11.02.2024 (more info here)
2. If you are in the Helsinki area and looking for the best training group check here
3. If you are looking for an online coaching service check here.
4. If you are looking for support for your triathlon journey, I recommend you book a 30min 1on1 video consultation with me here.
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