Podiatry for Triathlon Preparation

Did you know that triathletes are some of the most hard-working and dedicated in the world? It’s comprised of three phases that you complete one after the other – swimming, cycling, and running.

With more and more adults turning to triathlons to keep fit, seeing a sports podiatrist has become increasingly important. Not only is it beneficial for treating and preventing injury, podiatry can be a useful preparation tool that will get you to the finish line.

Triathlon training is something we take very seriously at 13th Beach Health Services – not only do we run the 13th BHS Move Club, a free health initiative that encourages runners to get together and challenge themselves, but we’re also the naming right sponsors of the Barwon Heads Triathlon. Get in touch with our team today for more information or to book a podiatry appointment.

Common Injuries Experienced by Triathletes

Although most swimming-related injuries occur in the upper body, many injuries may be sustained by the feet or lower legs during the cycling and running phases of a triathlon. In fact, 36 to 85% of all triathlon injuries occur in the lower limbs (with knee, foot, and ankle injuries making up the majority).

Injuries that podiatrists commonly treat in triathletes include:

  • Forefoot numbness and nerve pain
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Muscle strains (such as calf, hip flexor, and abductor)
  • Joint sprains (such as ankle)
  • Patella tendinopathy
  • Stress fractures
  • Plantar fasciitis

How a Podiatrist Can Help

A podiatrist can provide a variety of treatments that will either help you to recover from one of these injuries or prevent it from reoccurring in the future, including:

  • Sports-specific strapping and padding
  • Footwear assessment
  • Dry needling
  • Balance and strength reprogramming
  • Running analysis and re-training
  • Stretching and joint mobilisation
  • Sports-specific custom orthotics

Foot Care Tips for Triathletes

Any podiatrist will tell you that properly caring for your feet is one of the most important ways to avoid injury during a triathlon. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran, be sure to keep our foot care tips in mind.

Proper Footwear

Ensure that you’ve broken your running and cycling shoes in before the big day, and beware of opting for a lighter shoe. They might make you a little more energy efficient, but the biomechanical inefficiencies associated with less support and cushioning may make you more susceptible to injury.

Ensure that your feet are well-rested in the lead-up to the race, which means wearing supportive shoes. If you’re competing in a beach location, it can be tempting to wear thongs but just remember that this type of footwear places extra work on the muscles in your lower legs and feet.

A podiatrist can help to ensure that your footwear is appropriate, including fitting you with custom orthotics if needed.

Blister Prevention

Hopefully your training sessions have given you a fair idea of where you’re likely to develop a hotspot or blister. You can protect your skin by applying a thin dressing tape pre-race; choose one with rounded edges to hopefully see you through all three phases.

A lubricant (such as Vaseline) can also be applied to the skin or inside your shoes. This may lower shearing forces in your skin layers enough to prevent blisters. If a blister does form, be sure to wash it with antiseptic and protect it with an appropriate dressing.

A podiatrist can assist with dressing blisters for faster recovery, as well as provide further recommendations on how they can be prevented.

Skin and Nail Management

While thicker skin has certainly been known to get athletes through longer triathlons, it’s important to remember that too much callus can increase the shearing forces between your skin layers and lead to the development of blisters. The right amount of callus can be a hard target to hit.

Toenails that are too long can lead to bruising under the nail from the pressure placed on them by the end of your shoes. Alternatively, cutting your toenails too short before the race can leave the nail bed sore and result in the edges becoming ingrown.

If calluses or damaged toenails are causing you problems, be sure to book an appointment with your podiatrist.

Injury Management

Injuries are inevitable when you’re an athlete, but recognising a small niggle that will rectify itself versus a serious injury can be difficult. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important to get checked out. Addressing injuries before they become serious is less costly and time-consuming.

A podiatrist is a great starting point when dealing with injuries that affect the lower limbs (feet, ankles, and knees).

Be Triathlon Ready with 13th Beach Health Services

Will we be seeing you at the next Barwon Heads Triathlon?

While triathlons can be a terrific way to keep fit and meet like-minded people, you must be well-prepared for the challenge ahead. With the help of the right mindset, proper training, and 13th Beach Health Services’ team of expert podiatrists, rest assured that you’ll be crossing that finish line.

If you’re looking for further motivation or want to work on your running technique, we encourage you to check out our 13th BHS Move Club, run by local superstar Anthony Goss (who also happens to be a wealth of knowledge about triathlons).