With Saturday’s Ford Ironman World Championship Triathlon taking place in Hawaii there is a building sense of excitement about the competition. Ironman is a great name for competitors but ‘Superman’ would be more fitting. It is a gruelling event which takes as much mental strength as physical endurance.
Given the extremely demanding nature of the race, what sort of risks does a participant face?
A triathlete puts their body through immensely rigorous training routines in order to be ready for the main event, sometimes as much as 30 hours per week. Professional coaching is a must as are rest patterns.
An athlete will always be looking to train at their optimum levels which means pushing themselves right to the limits.
Lower leg injuries such as Achilles tendinosis, calf strain and shin splints can occur when running and cycling.
The Achilles tendon is fibrous tissue that connects the heel of the foot to the calf muscle and is the thickest tendon in the body. Most injuries to this area are caused by overuse and strain. The tendon itself is responsible for movement of the foot when walking, standing on tip toes, running and jumping. Usual symptoms are tightness and soreness that worsens over time until treated properly.
Calf strain and cramps are also a real threat to a triathlete. The calf consists of two muscles, the larger Gastrocnemius which is attached above the knee, and the Soleus which is attached just below the knee joint. When not properly loosened up the muscles can contract resulting in sharp pain and a lay off of two to five days.
Shin splints produce a sharp, painful sensation along the inside edges of the shin bones and can be caused by irregular movement patterns, running on hard surfaces, increasing training too quickly, inadequate footwear or reduced flexibility of the ankle.
One way to reduce the risks of these injuries is to stretch and warm muscles up prior to training or competing. Yoga is a great way of combining the two. Always seek medical advice and thoroughly research your chosen sport before undertaking any training regime.
Images: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=1181363, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RandersOpenWater_swimmer.jpg