Injury Prevention for Triathletes

Top Tips for Preventing Injury Before, During and After a Triathlon

Meet Our Expert: 

Claudia Dal Molin, DO 
Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics,
University of Maryland School of Medicine

Board Certifications: Internal Medicine; Sports Medicine

Q: How can triathletes properly prepare their bodies for intense, multi-faceted training (running, biking, swimming)?
Dr. Dal Molin: The biggest take home point with any new activity is to train in advance and gradually increase the difficulty over time. Too much too soon is usually how we see injuries occur. The nice thing about having the internet is there are many sound programs available for free that outline an appropriate training schedule. A solid training schedule will have rest days included for recovery. Another item to look for is weight lifting of some kind. A proper weight training regimen can promote strength and balance while breaking up the repetition of training.

Q: How should triathletes properly cool-down after training?
Dr. Dal Molin: A short but brisk walk is a nice transition after any cardiovascular activity to gradually lower your heart rate. Once your body has adjusted to this slower pace, this is a great time to stretch. Stretching when your body is warm has been shown to minimize risk of muscle injury when compared to stretching cold in the beginning of a work out.

Q: What should they concentrate on the week leading up to race day?
Dr. Dal Molin: Good nutrition and hydration may be the most important thing in the days leading up to a race day. Eat nutritious, unprocessed or minimally processed, whole foods for high-quality energy, and make sure you eat enough. The week before the race is not a great time to go on a diet or restrict calories. Your body needs fuel to perform so feed the furnace.

Q: How can they prevent injury on race day?

Dr. Dal Molin: Make sure you warm up before the race. Different people have different processes but a short jog or jumping jacks are examples of exercises that get the heart pumping in a short amount of time.

Q: What should triathletes do immediately following their race?
Dr. Dal Molin: Again, good nutrition and hydration. After all of that exercise, the body is primed for food rich in both glucose and protein. Depending on the weather and temperature, water or an electrolyte beverage may be appropriate. If you are thirsty, you need to drink.

Q: What are some signs/symptoms to look out for during and after the race?
Dr. Dal Molin: Dizziness or palpitations are never normal or OK. If you feel either of these symptoms, alert the medical staff at the event immediately so that they can evaluate you. Confusion is another serious symptom that requires prompt medical attention. If there is another participant who seems confused, please stop to get them help.

More common issues we see after a race are blisters from shoes or other clothing items. It is best to get any open wounds cleaned and appropriately dressed to minimize the chance of an infection developing. This is especially important with open water swims, since different and sometimes dangerous bacteria can be in that water.

Q: How can triathletes successfully transition from being in race shape back to every day life?
Dr. Dal Molin: There is no right way to transition to every day life necessarily. Everyone has a different baseline of physical activity.

For more information about our Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine services, or to schedule an appointment, visit umortho.org or call 410-448-6400. Our offices are located in Columbia, Baltimore City, Timonium, College Park and Gwynn Oak.