Marathon Triathlon

The 8 Most Common Triathlon Injuries—And What to Do About Them

Triathlon comes with three disciplines, all which have their own set of prevalent injuries—giving you even more opportunities to be sidelined. No athlete is immune; while some injuries are more common in beginners, many occur with overuse to areas of the body that are constantly working in the sport (protect those knees!). There are many reasons you may find yourself injured, but being able to put a name to the pain you are experiencing can help make the injury a little less frustrating and help you recover faster.

The most common injuries you may encounter—organized by triathlon discipline—so you can not only identify any weaknesses, but also work to prevent the pain before it happens.

Most Common Swim Injuries for Triathletes

Due to the continual rotation of the shoulders, that’s the site of the most common swim injuries that triathletes face. The two potential injuries you should be most aware of co-occur, so seeing a specialist should you have any shoulder pain can help treat the entire structure.

There are subtle differences between the two injuries that you should be aware of, though they both can occur from overuse.

Swimmer’s Shoulder

What it is: Swimmer’s shoulder—or shoulder bursitis—is an inflammation of the bursa that sits under a bone called your acromion, part of your scapula (shoulder blade) A bursa is a fluid filled sac that lubricates tendons where they attach to bone. In the shoulder, this bursa lubricates the tendons of the rotator cuff

How it happens: Swimmer’s shoulder is an overuse injury, which occurs most frequently due to the overhead rotation in swimming.

Pain usually occurs as a result of repetition with overhead activities, such as with the recovery phase of swimming (when your arm is out of the water),It can also occur from repeatedly crossing over your midline during your catch phase. Over time, this bursa gets irritated because the space between your humerus and the acromion is so narrow and it narrows even further with overhead activities.

Common symptoms: Pain and tenderness—especially when reaching the arm overhead—and a decrease in range of motion.

What to do: Outside of the pool, prevention starts with well-conditioned muscles, Do exercises that strengthen your rotator cuff muscles and the other surrounding shoulder muscles, such as] external rotation, scapular raises, push-ups and pull-ups.  Shoulder work must be in balance, so work opposing muscles.  If you do a push-up, make sure to do a pull-up to avoid muscle imbalances.

Additionally, reducing inflammation with over-the-counter pain medication is advised. If pain and inflammation still occur, see a specialist to get prescription medication and evaluation, should additional therapies—such as physical therapy or steroid injections—or surgery be indicated.

Shoulder Impingement

What it is: One of the most common causes of shoulder complaints, it is also known as impingement syndrome, and is caused by your rotator cuff and a part of your shoulder blade rubbing together internally with movement.

How it happens: This involves the tendons of the rotator cuff, a group of muscles that extend from the scapula (shoulder blade) to your humerus (upper arm bone) and hold the humerus in its shoulder socket, Impingement occurs when you lift your arm and the acromion digs in or impinges the rotator cuff tendons and the subacromial bursa.

You may remember that same subacromial bursa mentioned in swimmer’s shoulder, which is why the two go hand-in-hand.

Common symptoms: Pain is present when lifting the arm overhead or when lying on the painful shoulder, and there may be reduced range of motion.

What to do: As with a diagnosis of a swimmer’s shoulder, reducing inflammation with over-the-counter medications may help. Upon a physical evaluation, conservative treatment options include NSAIDS, cortisone injections, physical therapy and more, with the goal of restoring function. If unsuccessful, surgery may be indicated.

Other Swim Injuries to Look Out For

Muscular neck pain is also seen in swimmers,It often occurs because of muscle weakness and also poor swim technique, such as poor head position in the water and only breathing to one side. 

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