“Triathlon: Why be good at one sport when you can suck at three?”
It’s a humorous take on the sport, but triathlon definitely puts the whole body through its paces. Swimming, cycling, and running each put stress on the body and challenge different areas and muscle groups, affecting performance across all three disciplines.
For instance, ankle mobility is paramount for a good kick in swimming freestyle, but a certain amount of stiffness in the ankle can make you a faster runner. Hip mobility is great for running biomechanics, but cycling for long periods of time can shorten the hip flexors. What is a triathlete to do?
To maximise efficiency and prevent injury, you need to fix faulty movement patterns, bio-mechanical issues, joint instability, and incorrect muscle activation.
Jason Oei is the head of Precision Athletica’s Exercise Physiology Program and works with athletes from many sports, including triathlon. He identifies three common problem areas for triathletes to work on so they can train and race efficiently and prevent injury.
RUNNING: lower limb stress reactions
"I have often found that assessing hip and ankle mobility is a good way to begin. Poor mobility in these areas for runners can easily change the load distribution and shock absorption capabilities for every step taken.
"Once addressed, ensure the runner has the proper biomechanics and technique to maximise efficiency. This also needs to be reinforced with activating and using the right muscles, which for runners would centre mostly around the gluteal muscles and calves."
SWIMMING: shoulder impingement
"Assessing that the swimmer would have good shoulder range and thoracic mobility would be my way of addressing this issue. After this, I would assess if they have proper core and hip control to maintain posture in the water which will have a significant effect on how much load goes through the shoulders. Poor postural control = increased shoulder load."
CYCLING: Lower back pain
"First a bike fit is crucial – if this is not done, your body is placed in a more injury-prone position. It is common practice for cyclists to be in a prolonged lumbar spine flexed position when riding.
"I like to encourage cyclists to balance out this prolonged flexed position by getting on the foam roller post-race and extend their spine. I also encourage cyclists to bend more from the hips to maximise their ability to use their glutes. Finally, increasing their core activation will create a better support system for the lower back – especially during periods of high revolutions."
Your MX Endurance premium membership offers a wide range of triathlon training plans to suit your fitness and goals, delivered through Today's Plan. You may also inquire with our coaches for customised plans.