Injury Prevention for Duathlon Training
Bethany Ridenhour, PT, DPT
Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Senior Physical Therapist, NYU Langone Health
The most important consideration in injury prevention is YOU. You, the athlete, are the engine that is powering through the duathlon. Proper nutrition, rest and recovery are all pillars of injury prevention. Keeping the engine properly fueled and “well-oiled” will get you across the (virtual) finish line safely and successfully!
Avoid using the first leg of your duathlon as your warm-up. Plan for success with a proper dynamic warm-up to allow the body to prime for the activities ahead. A dynamic warm-up should increase your heart rate and trigger your muscular and nervous systems with movement patterns similar to running and cycling. Add some jumping jacks, inch worms and walking lunges to make your warm-ups, in training and on race day, more robust and prime your legs for power production.
The greatest percentage of training and race time, regardless of race distance, will be spent in the saddle. Muscular tension from prolonged saddle postures can be addressed with stretching of the pectoral region, hamstrings and hip flexors in hopes of offloading your neck, lumbar spine and knees. Strengthening of the transversus abdominus, your core stabilizer, will anchor your trunk and lower half, provide a foundation for a strong pedal stroke, and offload your lumbar spine. A proper bike fit at the beginning of your training season will help correct alignment issues on the bike early on and decrease your overall risk of injury. Practicing bike-handling skills like sharp turns and large descents will decrease your risk of injuries from accidents on the road.
As the quadriceps complex becomes fatigued during the bike segment, the body will rely on other important stabilizing muscle groups like the gluteal muscles to assist with forward propulsion and lower-extremity alignment during the final run. Exercises like clamshells, side planks, and bridges will assist in strengthening these muscles and offer a second line of defense for the lower half as the body is worn down approaching the final stage of competition.
Preparation and practice are key to prevent mishaps during your bike and run transitions. Dedicate an area to set up your bike with all necessary cycling gear, run gear and fueling options required for the race. Save time by placing them in the order you will use them. Helmet should be front and center and the first thing you don and last thing you doff in transition. Be sure to mock this transition set up as best as you can during training sessions.
Imagine training for a multisport race and finding yourself injured only weeks before the event date. Don’t let all the hours put into that training plan feel wasted. Though some injuries may be unavoidable due to predisposition of the athlete, road accidents, or lifestyle changes, many can be avoided or managed with the key strategies for each segment of the race.
At NYU Langone Health, our Sports Health team has the combined multi-specialty expertise to help you reach peak performance – no matter what your race looks like.
We are dedicated to providing world-class care to athletes at all levels and believe the best way to care for your unique needs is to bring together experts from a wide range of specialties who understand your priorities. Our Sports Health experts collaborate to customize diagnostic, treatment, rehabilitation, and performance plans to fit your lifestyle and help you attain your athletic goals. Visit nyulangone.org/nyctriathlon so we can create a plan to help you start and finish any race at your personal best.
Learn More About Our Services
Watch Our Video