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How to Avoid Overuse Injuries in Triathlons

How to Avoid Overuse Injuries in Triathlons

By Hayley Price

February 21, 2020

Over the years, participation in triathlon has continued to rise. Its multi-sport discipline nature has promoted entire body strengthening, endurance and all round fun! But, due to the high intensity and volume demands of the sport, injuries are a risk. In particular overuse injuries.

Studies have shown risk factors can include training errors (including sudden increases in volume, in particular increased number of running hours), increased number of years in triathlon, previous injury, inadequate warm up and cool down, and lack of recovery time. Most overuse injuries in triathlon occur during running training and have shown to be more common in the lower limbs, followed by the lower back and the shoulder.

We all put a lot of time and energy (and money) into competing in triathlon and no one wants to miss out due to injury. So what can we do to help prevent overuse injuries?

THINK: Training should make you ready and prepared for competition and improve your overall performance. If it is making you ill / injured or reducing performance, something needs to change!


  • Balance intensity over all 3 sports and increase / reduce each discipline throughout training season.
  •  Be aware of the signs of over training / overuse:
    o Fatigue, irritation, depression, insomnia, elevated resting heart rate, frequent illness and reduced performance.
    o If you notice these symptoms, listen to your body and take increased rest time!
    o This may include reducing your training hours / stopping certain training and changing to alternative cross training for a period of time, to allow your body to recover.
    o Gradually increase training when you return.
  • Avoid increasing intensity by greater than 10% per week.
  • Training often needs to be individualised – everyone is different.
  • Mix up the intensities of your sessions over your training week. Not all sessions should be a max out approach. There is a key importance to sessions of a low to moderate intensity.
  • When changing / increasing training, remember to check in with yourself. Write down, / monitor how are you feeling? Are the changes working? Are you seeing increased performance? Or injury? Do you need to make changes / re-evaluate?
  • When planning your training, remember to account for other potential stressors and lifestyle factors e.g. work and family commitments.
  • Ensure adequate rest / hydration /nutrition.

Remember a benefit of triathlon is that if one of the disciplines aggravates an injury, you are mostly able to maintain fitness via the other 2 disciplines! So injury does not have to mean stopping all training all together. But you need to think smart. Listening to your body and identifying issues early, with adequate intervention can mean quicker and better return to full training, rather than trying to continue training on overuse injuries which can result in a much greater issue and ultimately longer time off training and even competing.


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