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Limited time spent on physio proves to be triathlete’s Achilles’ Heel

Limited time spent on physio proves to be triathlete’s Achilles’ Heel

September 6, 2018

With the right training and race preparation, including nutrition and physiotherapy, your summer triathlon season can be one long success story, with personal bests, sprint finishes, medals and celebrations on the finish line. On the other hand, without paying attention to warning signs and pain, what starts as a niggle here and a twinge there can be the start of a season-stopping injury.

Despite this, recent research undertaken by Castle Triathlon Series and injury-prevention experts Six Physio suggests that only 36% of Olympic Distance triathletes have incorporated physiotherapy into their training regime, even though an astonishing 50% of triathletes have experienced Achilles and Calf Pain this season. Furthermore, 41% of respondents to the survey had also experienced back pain and knee pain this season.

Whilst triathletes have experienced some injuries this season, 100% of survey respondents stated that they has experienced less injuries or no difference in the amount of injuries compared to taking part in another type of sport, testament to the theory that triathlon is physiologically less straining on your body than taking part in a single sport.

Tom Whyatt Manual Physio at Six Physio Moorgate explains why the Achilles heel pain is the most common injury amongst Olympic Distance triathletes,” Achilles tendon injuries usually occur due to an overloading of the tendon. A rapid increase in training, and a fatigued calf that can’t withstand the strain leads to pain. Running is often the culprit in irritating this, but cycling can contribute too. Your calf acts as a spring when running to propel you forwards, and if it isn’t strong enough to repeatedly perform this task then it starts tugging at your tendon, effectively causing a bruise where the tendon joins in to the ankle. Unfortunately for a tri-enthusiast, running doesn’t build up strength, so adding in some calf specific strengthening exercises to a training programme is hugely important. Many amateur athletes attack the mileage with gusto, but don’t add this strengthening aspect leading to problems as the training increases and race-day approaches. Poor running techniques and foot position during running, as well as a sub-optimal bike fit can both add to your susceptibility to injury, so getting a professional bike-fit, running assessment and some pointers on how to run more effectively can massively improve both your training and your performance on race day!


Key recommendations from Six Physio to avoid injury:

– Listen to your body and don’t ignore signs of fatigue, pain and slow progress.

– Understand where your imbalances are and get advice on how to correct them.

–  Manual physiotherapy will target the tension spots and use hands on treatments to restore optimal muscle length and tension. Rehab physiotherapy is aimed at retraining correct muscle function and building functional strength and control in the body.

  • Invest in your recovery strategies to compliment your training. The best strategies are good diet and hydration plan, foam rolling daily, sports massage, short Pilates and rehab sessions 1-2 per week.

If you’re unlucky and do get an injury, the best advice is to:

– Rest and seek advice in first 48 hours.

– Once pain has settled, use roller to access any tension spots in the area.

– Look to slowly rehab the injury on advice from your physio and in the early days, don’t push through pain.

Triathletes who are looking to incorporate more physio into their training programme can head to the Six Physio website and see how to stretch effectively can find training videos here, helping triathletes of all levels to learn how to prevent injury.

To receive immediate personalised advice, head online to Six Physio’s ‘Ask the Guru’ portal to submit your queries.

Castle Triathlon Series competitors can call Six Physio on and quote code CTS20 to receive 20% off an initial Physio appointment (1hr), massage or Sports Assessment. You can also have a post-race massage at any Castle Triathlon Series event. 

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Race distances

For the absolute beginners and children to the professional triathletes, the Castle Triathlon Series offers a wealth of race distances to suit all levels.

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