9 Common Triathlon Injuries

Triathlon can help you stay fit, but it is also remarkably exhausting. Doing the trio of activities such as running, biking, and swimming can truly strain your body and sometimes lead it to a breaking point.

Injuries are commonplace in triathlons. Triathletes can be prone to the various types of physical maladies that can occur due to extensive exercise and too much exercise, specifically the ones related to muscle fatigue.

Common Triathletes Injuries

1. Shoulder pain (Swimmer’s Shoulder)

It is common to hear individuals talking about suffering a “rotator cuff injury” or having “swimmers shoulder,” which are actually terms used to describe all kinds of shoulder impairments. Due to its complexity, determining the cause of an injury to the shoulder joint is not a straightforward task.

Clearly, triathletes normally pick up shoulder injuries when swimming. It is possible to experience a squeezing feeling at the front of the shoulder during the restoration process of the stroke. Many times, the torment doesn’t go away after engaging in physical activities and can keep the sportsperson awake during the night.

Trauma to the shoulder can be the result of inefficient swimming techniques such as a limited thrust, an arm that is kept rigid when grabbing the water and an excessive reach when capturing the water.

Having improper posture and not rotating can stop the Latissimus Dorsi muscles from performing optimally in the swim stroke. This implies that the shoulders need to work harder to propel the swimmer through the water, causing them to become over-stressed.

In addition to bad form, imbalances in the surrounding muscles of the shoulder can cause injury.

A disparity is generally found between the muscles in the front of the shoulder and chest that are overly tight and strong, and those in the rear of the shoulder and upper back that are comparatively weak and inactive.

It is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis of a shoulder injury by a physiotherapist as every athlete will have a unique proportion and set of misalignments in the shoulder.

Having a swimming instructor evaluate one’s technique can be an important element in avoiding shoulder pain. Most swimmers will find advantages from exercising and using myofascial release (foam rolling) techniques to reduce tension in the front of the shoulder and chest muscles.

Doing workouts to build up the back muscles, especially the muscles around the Shoulder Blades and the Latissimus Dorsi, like side raises, internal and external rotations, and scapula push-ups, will all be beneficial.

Tri Training Harder’s athletes gain the advantage of attending our ‘Shoulder Robustness’ classes, where a multitude of workouts are provided to fortify the shoulder region and adjacent muscles to lessen the risk of harm.

2. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

Triathletes who are in the same age group often report discomfort on the outer portion of their knee, a symptom typically caused by ITBS. ITBS is an injury that results from repetitive rubbing between the iliotibial band and the bony protuberance found on the exterior of the knee joint.

The Iliotibial band is a combination of parts joining together from the upper hip to the outside of the knee, and it is fundamental in keeping the legs steady while running.

Triathletes who have experience in swimming, in particular, often show a lack of strength in their Gluteus Medius which is located on the outer sides of the hips.

When these muscles tire, they allow the knee to move inward while running, which boosts the tension in the IT band, leading to the occurrence of pain.

ITBS can also be picked up on the bike. This issue often appears in athletes wearing cleats that are not set up in the right spot or having saddles that are too high or far back. Consulting with a sports medicine expert about a custom bike fitting should be the primary option for athletes experiencing ITBS discomfort while cycling.

Foam rolling on your quadriceps and gluteus muscles can help to lessen the strain and tightness that is a factor in ITBS, yet be careful not to roll directly on the IT band itself.

Exercises that help to tone and fortify the hips and buttocks, particularly the gluteus medius, can reduce the incidence of ITBS flare-ups. These include things like a side plank with a leg lift or moving sideways using a band for resistance (known as crab walks).

3. Runners knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, which is often referred to as “runner’s knee,” is an issue with the knee that frequently occurs in triathletes and causes pain in the area surrounding the kneecap.

Runner’s knee is a condition in which the patella’s underlying cartilage becomes swollen and irritated.

This can be attributed to a lack of lubrication, which means that the patella does not travel in the proper direction because it is out of alignment. This may be due to a physical injury or muscle misalignment, with tight quadriceps and hip flexors commonly being the main instigators.

The incorrect running technique can lead to Runner’s knee.

Running with strides that are too long, landing ahead of the body’s centre of gravity, not only makes running ineffective but also puts stress on the front of the knee and the muscles in the front of the thigh as they are forced to bear the impact of the over-stride.

Foam rolling the quadriceps, hips, hamstrings and glutes can aid in releasing tense muscles, as well as relieving pain associated with Runner’s Knee.

Increasing the power, equilibrium, and steadiness of the knee joint with one-legged balance exercises can also aid in avoiding Runner’s knee.

Focusing on proper running techniques to prevent excessive stride length can help stop Runner’s knee from developing. Gradually boosting your running speed and doing exercises such as ‘pawbacks’paybacks beneficial.

A lot of triathletes also develop “Runner’s knee” as a result of biking. A saddle that has been positioned too low for the rider can place an excessive amount of strain on the quadriceps and cause tension in the area close to the front of the knee. A professional bike fitting can help identify and correct the original source of the issue if that is what is causing the problem.

4. Achilles Tendon Pain

Accidents involving the Achilles tendon can range from mild pain caused by a strong jog to ongoing tendinopathy or even a break in the tendon. The discomfort associated with Achilles tendonitis usually occurs when running distances or speed is increased abruptly.

Making the shift from landing on the heel to mid or forefoot running can lead to Achilles problems. Sporting shoes that are inappropriate or lack the necessary support needed for the runner’s natural form can aggravate issues of the calf and Achilles.

Pain in the Achilles tendon can be caused by a bike seat set up too tall, ill-fitting cycling shoes, or an improper setting for cleats.

Inflamed calves can result in issues with your Achilles, utilizing myofascial release methods on the calf muscles could assist with pain felt in the Achilles tendon. Doing an extensive warm-up, especially before strenuous workouts, will aid your Achilles tendon in getting ready for the workout.

Based on where the pain of the Achilles tendon is situated (at the point where it connects to the heel or the mid-portion), a range of single-leg balance activities, calf raises, and heel drops can aid in guarding against and healing injuries of the Achilles.

Athletes that use TTH can participate in our “Lower Limb Robustness” and “Hip Robustness” sessions to help prevent Achilles tendon soreness, runner’s knee, and Iliotibial Band Syndrome. These exercises have proven to be very effective for rehabilitation and prevention.

5. Ankle Sprain

Many people who participate in athletics are well aware of the displeasure caused by ankle sprains. Injury to the ankle usually takes place when the foot is twisted inward, resulting in an elongation or rupture of the ligaments around the joint.

The majority of sprains of the ankle are minor injuries that can be cured through methods of self-care. If your ankle is severely swollen and is hurting when you walk, it could be something worse than just a minor sprain, so make sure to consult a medical professional.

Proper care and therapy will help to lower the chances of your ankle being injured once more after suffering a bad or high ankle sprain.

6. Tendonitis

Tendonitis, a swelling of tendons, can affect several parts of the body. Tendonitis in the shoulders, feet, and knees is commonly seen in triathletes due to the athletic activities they regularly partake in (swimming, running, and biking).

Tendonitis is likely to occur due to frequent stretching and motion of the tendons, which leads to small tears that inflame over time, rather than from a single, sudden injury.

You can reduce the likelihood of contracting tendonitis by doing some preparation before exercising, for example warming up, stretching afterwards and wearing suitable equipment, such as the right kind of shoes.

7. Stress Fractures

Stress fractures can happen when a person puts in a lot of effort in their workout routine, or increases their exercise regimen substantially, but does not take sufficient breaks to relax and give their body time to heal. The vibrations caused by intense training could lead to broken bones if you don’t give yourself a break to help your body heal.

Among triathletes, stress fractures commonly occur in the hips, shin, and feet. The signs could involve anguish and inflammation of the affected area.

Stress fractures take time to heal. It is necessary to take a break of at least six weeks to allow the wound to recover entirely.

8. Hamstring Strain

The hamstring is composed of three muscles located in the back of the thigh, and they can be strained when they are overworked or stretched too far while running or hurdling.

The muscles in the hamstrings are especially prone to strains because they are weaker than most of the leg muscles and get tired quickly.

Hamstring injuries have an extensive recovery period of typically 6-12 months. Even strolling can put a lot of strain on injured hamstrings and make the healing process take longer. It is imperative to warm up and stretch beforehand to prevent painful hamstring tears and strains.

9. Shin Splints

People who are athletes and have shin splints often experience an intense stabbing sensation that travels down the front of their leg. This issue is common in people who are beginning training for running or triathlons at an intense level.

Individuals can commonly struggle with shin splints when they rapidly raise their exercise intensity before they are ready. Other potential reasons for shin pain include having underdeveloped muscles in the shin area, using the incorrect technique when exercising, and continually doing the same workouts.

Taking a break is the ideal solution for healing shin splints and usually, it takes around two weeks to feel better. If the agony carries on even after a considerable amount of rest, you must go to a sports injury centre quickly. If they are not dealt with promptly, shin splints can eventually progress into stress fractures.

Prevention is Better than Cure

Muscles that are heated up are more supple, whereas cold muscles are inclined to be tense and likely to be overstretched. By taking the time to warm up and stretch, it is possible to prevent most sports injuries.

Also, don’t forget to:

  • Use the proper technique when training or performing a sport.
  • Wear the right shoes and athletic protection.
  • Let your body rest and recover.
  • Cool down and stretch after your activity.
  • Take it slow and gradually increase the intensity of your training.

Treating Common Sports Injuries

Injury is an extremely unfortunate event that no triathlete – or anyone else – wants to experience. In addition to dealing with the pain and lack of flexibility, this saps the time that could have otherwise been devoted to practising.


It is essential to regard symptoms with caution, reduce the amount of exercise you do, and also utilize short-term injury management approaches like RICE. Be certain to converse with your instructor and make it a priority to make an appointment with a specialist.

Surely, triathletes are prone to many more traumas, like shin splints, Plantar Fasciitis, and muscular tears.

In comparison to swimming and cycling, running puts more strain on the body, which could explain why all of these injuries except for a sore shoulder are more likely to be acquired during a run.

With any triathlon-related injury, the route cause can rarely be pinpointed; it is normally a combination of many factors:

  • A huge number of overuse injuries are a result of making mistakes during training. Engaging in too many activities in a brief period with excessive intensity. Training too intensely to make up for any missed exercise can quickly overload the body’s joints and muscles. Having a coach to oversee your training will help prevent any mistakes that might arise while training.

  • Inequalities in muscle strength can play a role in all of the issues discussed. Consulting with a Personal Trainer to determine one’s body mechanics can provide a focused and organized stretching and strength program to rectify any discrepancies and increase the likelihood of being injury-free.

  • Each athlete will have different levels of stability, motion range, strength and posture, which can be improved through the development of an appropriate strength and stretching routine with proper warming up. A secure base will enable the athlete to move quickly and securely.


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