Thing #1: Length
During the practice of swimming, biking and running, our connective tissue gets short and tight. This includes muscles, tendons (which attach muscles to bone), and ligaments (which attach bone to bone).
When ligaments get tight, it reduces the space between the bones at crucial joints like the ankle, knee and hip.
This reduces the amount the joint can bend and this in turn, reduces the amount of force the joint can absorb from the ground.
If we look at the ankle for example, when the ligaments that attach your foot to your leg get short, it reduces your ability to pull your toes to your nose. This means that when your foot strikes the ground, your ligaments cannot lengthen to absorb the impact and cannot rebound you off the ground.
It’s what I like to call, The Catapult Effect
When this effect is limited, especially in the ankle, you start striking the ground as run, like your feet are made of concrete – slapping the ground hard and staying low, rather than bouncing back off it.
Over time, this poor shock absorption leads to increased strain on the ankles, knees, hips and lower back, which ultimately leads to pain and then injury.
Focusing your efforts on lengthening your body across all joints will help to restore your rebound (or ‘pingability’), making your movements use much less effort, which you can then put into travelling faster or keeping going for longer.
Thing #2: Variety
Triathlon is a very repetitive sport, which quickly creates muscle tightness. Every muscle is involved in everything we do and simply stretching a muscle in one direction isn’t going to help much.
To truly unwind muscle tension, we must move in lots of different ways within the stretch to find the bit that’s causing the most trouble.
It might be a simple variation like turning your hips slightly during a hip stretch that allows you to improve the length of all the muscles around your hip joint.
Thing #3: Decrease stress
Emotional stress (including just being super busy) creates the same hormonal response as intense exercise.
These hormones signal to your muscles to be tense and ready for action. As you know by now, muscle tightness causes injury, so having high levels of stress (being very busy) AND intense bouts of exercise, without a way to reduce all of that, simply builds the tension in your body layer by layer.
Eventually, your body won’t be able to cope anymore and you will end up with an illness (in some cases even chronic fatigue or overtraining syndrome), or an injury.
In the run up to your ‘A’ race, make sure you take time out each week to completely unwind your body and your mind to ensure you’re in tip top shape come race day.
Don’t leave your risk of injury on race day to chance.
To get started decreasing your risk of injury on race day, simply switch your current warm up for my FREE Super 12 warm up and repeat it as your cool down and see what difference it makes to you.