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The Key Parts to Preventing Injuries Part 2 – Stretching

A woman lies on her back on a mat, with one leg fully raised in a stretch

With all the swimming, running and biking we do, as well as trying to balance work, social life and spend time with family, our schedules fill up very quickly!

What’s the deal with stretching?

With all the swimming, running and biking we do, as well as trying to balance work, social life and spend time with family, our schedules fill up very quickly! If I said you need to add another time-consuming factor into your life, you’re probably wondering how you’ll fit this into your day. However, this addition is discipline-free, and performance-enhancing helps prevent injuries and doesn’t need much time. You might have guessed it by now… Stretching!

Typically we don’t place a lot of value on stretching. When you are doing speed drills in the pool, cranking out mileage on your bike, or running hills, it feels like you are doing something worthwhile in your training. Comparatively, stretching seems quite dramatic. Blimey, you hardly break a sweat, you don’t require any expensive flash gear, and it seems like it is ebbing away at our well-earned post-training recovery feast time! It doesn’t appear very hard-core triathlete-ish, either!

But stretching is not just for people with too much time on their hands! Endurance sports such as triathlon require the athlete to repeat the same muscle movement repeatedly and excessively. Whether it’s your swim stroke, cycling cadence, or running motion, the connective tissue shortens and tightens as your muscles contract repeatedly. Our muscles lose elasticity because the motions of these exercises do not take our muscles through the full range of their available motion unless you are sprinting away from a shark in the water or trying to outdo a raging bull on your bike!

Stretching for recovery

Hold off on that shower post-long ride or sweaty run for just 5min! Stretching post-activity can aid recovery! In fact, it has been shown to be a great injury-prevention tool! Many triathletes incorporate Pilates or Yoga into their triathlon training for the purpose of increasing flexibility and elasticity. Maybe it is worth considering finding an awesome yoga teacher who can put you through your flexibility paces and provide you with key exercises to improve your bendiness and ultimately help to prevent any niggling injuries from occurring!

How to incorporate a basic stretching plan into your training program

  1. Do static stretching post-session. This involves stretching the muscle to a level of slight discomfort (not pain), and holding that position for 30-60 seconds. Repeat each of the stretching exercises 2-3 times in succession.
  2. Dynamic stretching after a light warm-up and pre a big training session or race is ideal for keeping you nimble and subtle preperformance, but you want to leave static stretching until post-session. This is because a) you’re nice and warm, so you won’t yank your poor freezing tendons off the bone as your nice and toasty post-session, and B) static stretching pre-session has been shown to reduce muscular power, therefore, inhibiting muscular performance and nobody wants that!
  3. Stretch all areas — your lower body, upper body, and core muscles. You can do the below routine in 10 minutes! Easy!!! If you can set a goal of doing some stretching even three times per week, then you will be well on your way to improving your bendiness and having a consistent injury-free training season!