Functional Strength and Conditioning:
Specific muscle strength and conditioning exercises are recommended when participating in triathlon. Due the various postures needed in the 3 disciplines it is important to devote time to the different muscle groups involved. Your chartered physiotherapist can help you identify areas that need specific attention.
Running involves awareness of good posture just like good sitting posture or standing postures. This allows the pelvis and leg muscles to work in synergy with each other. If the upper body is leaning excessively forward over the pelvis, this will place an increased demand on the lower back muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps and muscles at the front of the shin. If the foot lands too far in front of the hips/pelvis, the leg must operate a breaking mechanism, and can place excessive strain at the front of the knee. The hip flexors and extensors are important muscles for running action, and any excessive shortness/tightness of the hip flexors, can result in weak or inhibited buttocks, which can lead to a slow change over to the running motion required after the bike.
These are 3 examples of exercises that can be used as warm up prior to running or in a separate functional strength programme:
1.Bridge: lie on back with knees bent at hip width apart, and feet flat on the floor. Arms should be rested by your side. Push through your feet to lift your hips off the floor to level with your knees. Keep your back long, and tailbone lengthened away from you neck. Breathe 4- 5 breaths, and return back slowly to the starting position. Start at 5 repeats, and repeat 2 sets.
2. Lunge: In a stride position stand with right foot in front and left leg behind, with heel up. Drop right and left hips down , without bending at the spine, and keep the back heel up. Avoid bringing the front knee further than the length of your foot in order to avoid straining the patellofemoral joint. This is an excellent exercise for opening out the front of the hips, engaging the buttocks, and for balance. Repeat 15 reps, 2 sets
3. Single leg squat. This exercise requires good lumbopelvic control, and flexible ankles. It also challenges the gluteus medius muscle. Place a magazine under your heels if your calf muscles are tights. Keep the trunk upright and bend into the hip and knee, keeping your knee cap pointing forward. Again avoid bringing the knee further than the length of your foot. Use you hip extensors and knee extensors to push into straightened position. Repeat 10 times, and 2 sets.
Cycling involves multiplanar movements through your trunk, pelvis and lower limbs. You get trunk rotation, pelvic tilting and lower limb flexion and extension. It is important to have good dynamic stability to perform well on the bike and generate strength and power and prevent injury. By performing some cycling specific exercises you can achieve a better bike position and turn that into a more powerful performance.
Single Leg Step Up: Use dumbbell weights and step bench to do this exercise. Rest one leg on the bench and step up onto the bench, lower yourself back down slowly and with control. Repeat 10 times and do 3 repetitions of this.
Weighted Glut Med Clam: This will help maintain a better hip/ knee/ foot position on the bike and limit any dipping inwards of the knee especially on the hills.
Lie on your side, bend both knees, keep your heels together. Activate your core and slowly lift your upper knee, hold 3 seconds and repeat x 15. You can add a 1-3 kg weight to this as a progression.
Triathlons place tremendous amount of stress on the shoulder muscles, especially since the internal rotation of swimming strokes can cause tissue impingement, and long-distance running leads to slouching and rounding of the shoulders. Exercises like the YTWL, bands exercises and some weightlifting can prevent shoulder pain and problems in a triathlon.
Scapular and rotator cuff conditioning:
YTWL Weightless Exercise
Step 1 – Lie down on your stomach on a swiss ball. Place your arms straight out by your head so that your arms and body resemble a “Y” shape.
Step 2 – Lower your arms so that they come perpendicular to your body to make the “T” of the YTWL training exercise.
Step 3 – Bend your elbows and bring in your arms so that your upper body resembles a “W.”
Step 4 – Bring your elbows to your hips to make the “L” of the YTWL.
Repeat these steps 10 times. You can add a light weight as progression to this.
For more information on individual functional strengthening programmes suitable for you please phone Beacon Physiotherapy 01 2936692 or visit www.beaconphysiotherapy.ie .
With demanding training schedules and over worked muscles it is no wonder that the triathletes’ muscles can get tired and distressed, developing tight bands and trigger points in them. Stretching may provide some of the relief that is needed for these over worked muscles to recover but the extra release that foam rolling provides can help massage out the tight chinks in a muscle.
Foam rolling is a like a self-massage technique that the athlete can apply themselves. Like a mobile massage therapist! It is a cylindrical shaped foam roll that can be used to massage over tight areas in a muscle or can be used as an acupressure over any tight trigger points. The foamroller can be used to apply ,long sweeping strokes to tight bands in many long muscle groups such as calves, adductors and quadriceps and small directed force to areas like the TFL, hip rotators and gluteus medius where specific trigger points may present.
By using your own body weight and a Foam Roller, you can perform a self-massage or Myofascial release. By applying gentle, sustained pressure on the soft tissues, Myofascial release results in softening and lengthening of the fascia. Myofascial release has been shown to relieve various muscle and joint pains such as IT band syndrome and shin splints as well as improving flexibility and range of motion.
Athletes are instructed to use the roller to search for tender areas or trigger points and to roll these areas to decrease density and over-activity. The major areas that respond well to the foam roller are:
Gluteus max and hip rotators- the athlete, client or patient sits on the roller with a slight tilt and moves from the iliac crest to the hip joint to address the gluteus max. To address the hip rotators the affected leg is crossed to place the hip rotator group on stretch. As a general rule of thumb, ten slow rolls are done in each position although there are no hard and fast rules for foam rolling . Often athletes or clients are encouraged to simply roll until the pain disappears or find the tight trigger area and keep sustained pressure on the point for 30-60 seconds until the area relaxes.
The equipment that is used for foam rolling usually consists of a foam cylinder of various sizes; commonly 12 inches long, 6 inches in diameter. You can make your own by wrapping a rolling pin in bubble wrap or using a golf ball for specific trigger points.
Please note that if you suspect an acute tear in your muscle please DO NOT FOAM ROLL! You should always seek the advice of a Chartered Physiotherapist in this case or contact Beacon Physiotherapy on 01 2936692 for any other queries.
Iliotibial Band Release