Ironman training: Many miles doesn’t have to mean many injuries.

To many, competing in a triathlon is viewed as a monumental task. What most often consists of a ~500 yard swim, 10-15 mile bike ride and a 3 mile run is considered to be for those with elite fitness and that few men or women have a chance at finishing without your body completely breaking down in the process.  For those who have done a triathlon, an Ironman Triathlon is the real monumental task. Starting with a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride and wrapped up with by running a marathon (26.2 miles) the Ironman triathlon require hundreds of hours of training, nutritional planning and mental toughness. The average Ironman triathlete FINISHER (some don’t finish, Ironman triathlons have cut off times for each stage of the event where if you don’t finish by “x” time, you don’t continue) is 12 hours and 35 minutes. This equates to a 1:16 swim time, a 6:25 bike time and a 4:54 marathon. Brutal!

Most musculoskeletal injuries are overuse injuries. This occurs when you are pushing your body to do more than it is currently trained to do. Your soreness after a killer workout is an indicator of this.  Your body has a fantastic ability to adjust to these little micro-injuries, but over time they will snowball into something your body can no longer mask.  This is when pain sets in to act like a “check engine” light for your body. Pain is there to tell you to stop doing whatever you’re doing because you are either doing it wrong, too much, or both! As you can imagine an ironman triathlete in training is likely somebody with one, if not several aches and pains of varying intensity.

Doug Weas is one of these bold individuals who is training to compete in his first ironman in Madison this September. As a spry 56 year old, he has enlisted a triathlete coach to help him achieve his goal and she included a handful of visits to our office as part of his training package. While not falling apart when he first came in, he was aware that the more he trained the more likely something would pop up. Doug came in saying that he had some minor shoulder twinges that happened occasionally while riding, his foot would bother him after 7+ miles of running and his right shoulder that was repaired almost 2 years prior wasn’t 100%. His glute had some dysfunction as well.  Nothing uncommon for an Ironman hopeful, especially of the 56 year old vintage.

After an assessment it was found that his entire right lower posterior chain (the muscles/fascia from the bottom of his foot to the crest of his hip) had a fair amount of adhesion that was limiting his performance.  We also realized that his shoulder positioning while cycling only encouraged shoulder problems when reaching overhead (like swimming). We then moved on to correcting his problems by:

Removing adhesions/Improving range of motion
Using techniques derived from Integrative Diagnosis, we removed adhesions in his neck, upper back, shoulders, hips, thighs, legs and feet. Once there was less tension on his spine, chiropractic care was practically effortless. Having his range of motion in his extremities and spine improved, Doug felt immediate relief.

Raised awareness of bad habits
For Doug, this meant proper shoulder positioning while riding and being mindful of his stride while running. The more educated you are about what you are doing wrong, the more likely you are to correct yourself when you start falling into a bad habit.

Creating New Habits
Retracting his shoulders while riding, pushing off his big toe at the end of his stride while running and having proper squatting and stretching habits will go a long way in reducing the amount of time spent in my office and improving the quality of his time spent training.
“As a 56 year old who wants to continue pushing my body in Ironman, the need for soft-tissue work is a part of the process.  Just the same as running, biking and swimming. Working out problem areas and keeping ahead of potential flare ups essential for proper training.  Dr. Scott continuously educates me regarding my body and how it works and what is connected to what.   His treatment is not comfortable, but pain never felt so good!” –Ironman Finisher Doug Weas

The more you know about how your body should function, the better you will feel.  However as humans we often get overzealous in our habits or have inescapable problems where spinal immobility and adhesion will keep popping up, such as desk work or other repetitive tasks. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, give us a call or shoot us a text at (414) 939-5045. You can also reach us at [email protected].