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Swimming, biking, running: Common triathlon injuries

Triathletes, triathlons, and triathlon injuries

Some of the most common triathlon injuries are stress fractures, blisters, and Achilles tendonitis. In the last 15 years, the popularity of triathlons has exploded, and with it has emerged a highly diverse group of athletes. Triathletes range from children, to highly-trained endurance athletes at their prime, to senior citizens and just about every type of person in between. Triathletes come from all walks of life, socio-economic backgrounds, and more. There is no longer any such thing as a typical triathlete. What do triathletes have in common? Typically, they are stubborn and completely dedicated to their training, even at the risk of injury, and although any triathlete may be injured in training, those new to the sport are at greatest risk.

Common triathlon injuries

Each component of a triathlon — swimming, cycling, and running — carries risk of injuries. These injuries are typically either due to a trauma or are the result of repetitive stress. Typical injuries are sprains, tendon ruptures, fractures, and abrasions, although any number of other injuries may be sustained during the course of a triathlon or training.

Swimming: Although swimming is usually considered relatively stress-free on the feet and ankles, training in the water may aggravate existing injuries. Flip turns in a pool are particularly likely to strain an already injured ankle or foot. The addition of flippers when training may increase the likelihood of worsening these injuries due to the way they change the biomechanics of the feet and ankles when swimming.

Biking: Cycling injuries are typically related to improperly fitting shoes and bicycle. Common cycling injuries often are tendon-related, although other podiatry-related injuries may also occur. Cycling shoes that are too tight or too loose may result in a variety of conditions, as can a seat (or saddle) that is too high or low, or a shoe cleat that is too far forward or too loose on the pedal.

Running: The running portion of triathlons is responsible for the vast majority of all triathlon injuries. In fact, as many as 75 percent of triathlon injuries are related to the running portion. Running-related injuries in triathletes are similar to those of long-distance runners, including stress fractures, blisters, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and neuromas. Other common running injuries suffered by triathletes include subungual hematomas (bruising under the toenails), iliotibial band syndrome, tendonitis of the patella (the knee cap), medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints), and sacroiliac joint dysfunction (dysfunction of the spine at the low back and into the hips).

Whether you are a new or experienced triathlete, be sure to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist at Kansas City Foot Specialists to have a thorough foot, ankle, and lower leg examination and to address any signs or symptoms of injury. Your podiatrist may also make specific training suggestions or advise you on proper footwear and equipment, including custom orthotics to help reduce risk of injury. To schedule an appointment, call us today at (913) 338-4440.