Triathlete exercises to help build strength and prevent injury

If you’re a triathlete wanting to maximise your bike to run transitions and prevent injury – read on!

Every triathlete will share with you their tips and tricks for a speedy transition from bike to run, but when it comes to strength and conditioning exercises to help prevent injury and improve form, they are a little stumped. Most triathletes focus on speed when it comes to transitions but strengthening and injury prevention exercises will determine if you finish the race at all.

Transitioning from bike to run is extremely brutal on your body. Your glutes are lengthened from all the peddling, and your hip flexors are tight from being in a crouch position. Now you’re asking your glutes to work in a shorter range of movement and your hip flexors to stretch out immediately, with no adjustment period and for 6.2 miles.

This shift puts quite a bit of strain on the body and if you haven’t built up stability in your lower back and quality hip range, you are increasing your chance of a range of injuries, such as lower back pain, anterior knee pain, Achilles tendinopathy and shin splints.

PhysioNet Bristol’s directory for finding a private physiotherapy clinic near you, can help you find a specialist physiotherapist to help prevent further sports injuries and provide you with expertise advice. Experienced chartered physiotherapist, Alex Smart owner of TheraSmart, one of PhysioNet Bristol’s partner clinics shows you 4 exercises to help you build strength and prevent injury not just for triathletes but those with lower back or hip pain.

Single leg squats from a chair – 4 x 20 reps on each leg

From a sitting position, stand up on one leg. Keep your pelvis level and be careful not to twist it back. There is a tendency on the non-weight bearing side for the hip to rotate back. This means you are opening out your hip instead of engaging your glutes properly. Keep your shoulders and pelvis square and knee in line with your second toe. Also, be mindful to stand straight and not to side bend or arch your lower back.

Standing hamstring curls (done well) – 4 x 20 reps on each leg

Standing hamstring curls are rarely done well. Most people tend to sway their hips forward when curling their leg back, so the weight moves to the ball of their foot and they have to grip with their toes. The aim is to keep your pelvis in line so the weight is evenly spread through your foot. Make sure your lower back is flat and your tummy is engaged. If you are doing it correctly you should feel your glute and hamstring working together.

TIP: do this exercise holding onto something in front of you and with a mirror to your side to make sure you are doing it correctly.

Seated leg extensions with a football – 4 x 20 reps

From a seated position sitting upright, squeeze the ball between your ankles and start to lift your legs to straighten your knees. When your hamstrings are tight you are going to want to round your back – so fight against this urge. Maintain the pressure on the ball throughout the movement up and down. This will work your quads and VMO which is important to combat anterior knee pain. Only extend the legs as far as you can maintain a straight back.

Four-point kneeling torso rotation – 4 x 20 reps on each side

On all fours, your hands should be directly below your shoulders with straight arms, and your knees should be directly below your hips. Make sure your back is nice and straight with your head in line with your torso. Be careful not to drop your head towards the floor. Place one hand on your hip and rotate your torso towards the non-weight bearing side so you open up your shoulders. Hold for a count of 5 seconds.