Training Through Injury

By Tara Norton

Thanks to the inherent variety of our sport, triathletes can often train through injury in at least one of the disciplines. Nonetheless, it’s imperative that you let pain be your guide. It’s crucial that you get to know the difference between “bad pain,” for which you need to stop and readjust or stop completely, and “non-threatening pain,” which is a result of adaptation rather than further injury. Importantly, there are times you may feel the site of injury site without there being a substantial risk. To be sure it’s a very fine line to which you must be attuned.

The red flags of “bad pain” may include sharp pain, pain that increases or lasts after the training session, and that gut feeling that, “maybe this is not a good idea.”  When you question whether or not to continue, more often than not, that means stop and do not do/continue the session.

Get a Diagnosis
See a doctor so you know what the issue is and exactly how to proceed.  Tests may include palpation by your doctor, ultrasound, x-ray or even MRI/CT Scan. A proper diagnosis helps to determine exactly how to proceed and heal properly.

Get the appropriate treatment once you have the diagnosis:  This may be rest, osteopathy, massage therapy, shockwave therapy, acupuncture, gait assessment, orthotics, mobility/stretch/strength work including rehabilitative exercises, hydrotherapy, etc.

Focus on doing what doesn’t hurt.
Don’t stop training completely. Movement and pain-free activity is good for healing.  For example, if you can’t run, do a cycling focus so that your ride can improve while letting your injury heal. Try water running (when pools are open) instead of land running, or even getting on the Altar G treadmill.

Cross training maintains your fitness and your sanity. Try rowing or focus on strength work (upper or lower body, depending on the injury). Work daily on your core to gain supportive strength that will also help to prevent future injuries. Find friends who will join you for some alternative training like water running to help with motivation.

Take Care of You
Focus on good nutrition. Get extra sleep and spend extra time with your non-athlete-friends and family. Focus on long overdue household projects like cleaning out your closets.
Stay positive and if need be, cancel races with the bigger picture of making a full recovery in mind. Long-term health and ability to train/race is more important than pushing through in the short-term, preventing the injury from healing properly.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that we can work to minimize them but set-backs come with the territory—that is they are part not only of training and racing, but of life. Reminding yourself of the many times you’ve gotten through those before can help you stay positive which will no doubt help your healing.

*This article first appeared in the July 2019 Team Atomica Newsletter.*