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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How to prevent hip, knees and ankle injuries?

    Hi, I started doing marathons and long distance triathlon last year which requires lots of running and cycling. I am just wondering what are the best ways to protect my hip, knees and ankles from injuries. If I can get some exercising tips and any recommended nutrition if possible. Thanks,
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  • Tim Cottman - Fields

    Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist

    Tim is considered a movement specialist - using exercise, education and hands on therapy as his main treatments, helping everyone achieve optimal function. His interests … View Profile

    I can try and answer your question from a theoretical point of view and from past experiences with joint related injuries in triathlons.

    Injury prevention should make up a solid part of any training program. Individuals need to be diligent and precise when undertaking these exercises as they are vital for longevity in the sport, vitality in life and to improve performance.

    "Most if not all soft tissue injuries (sprains, strains etc.) can be prevented with appropriate exercise training measures"

    Let’s break it down

    • Running is high impact and the most commonly injured joint is the knee.
    • Cycling is low impact; but entails you to assume quite poor postural positions - to allow for more enhanced aerodynamics and force production.
    • Shoulders are the most injuried joint in swimming having mobile yet strong shoulders is a must
    • You need strong and quite rigid ankles to haul your body weight across long distances without failing.

    Injury prevention should first begin with a biomechanical assessment. I recommend you see a quality sports physiotherapist or running/ triathlon coach to get this done.

    After knowing what needs work you can then start to introduce exercises to help - be sure to work on all joints that need work (shoulder, thoracic, low back, neck etc.)

    Examples:

    • Single leg squat testing
    • Core strength endurance
    • Swim/ cycle/ run technique
    • Flexibility testing

    In a nut shell the ideal program should include exercises that:

    • Inhibit (overworking musculature) and activate (underworking working musculature)
    • Lengthen (‘or stretch’ tight musculature) and strengthen (weak musculature)
    • Mobilize (get stiff joints moving) and stabilize (loose joints)

    These two videos show some okay exercises that could be incorporated in an injury prevention program for triathlons.  I have included them because they show good array of movements like lunging, hinging at the hips, squatting and sports specific positions.

    Although, I didn’t see much rotational movement which is important for the swim leg or much balance/ proprioceptive training. The second video is more running specific drills.

    Additionally I would get a foam roller or tennis ball for (self-myofascial release AKA 'self massage') to help reduce muscular tension. You can google/ you tube self-myofascial release or get a health professional to show you how this is done if you don't already know how.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_myLi3UHUM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n08fFsUJJPQ

    All the best. 

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