Warm up and stretching:
It is extremely important to keep the body at its optimum,
during rest, training and performance to prevent injury and to be
effective with the least amount of energy consumed.
Before any form of training begins a warm up followed by
stretches must be performed. This will then allow the muscles and
tendons to function at their best due to them being warm and at
optimum length. This will allow the muscle to produce a much
stronger and more efficient contraction when it is required and
over a prolonged duration.
Before stretching warm the muscle by performing general and
specific exercises to the sport you are about to perform. Within
the triathlon - general exercise would be jogging and light
swimming. Currently there are no guidelines to how long the warm up
should last for but the athlete is looking for a mild sweat without
fatigue. The effects of the warm up will last for about thirty
minutes so it is important that during a competition that this is
not performed too early.
After the warm up has been completed stretches should
Please see below for optimum stretches that should be
This should be followed in reverse post training or competition
by a cool down. Again a general exercise for example a jog followed
Specificity – Make sure your training is
appropriate to what event you want to compete in. For example if an
athlete was going to run 20km the focus will need to be on
endurance not sprinting. However this athlete will also need
strength so a form of strength training will need to be
Progression – The body will adapt to become
stronger and more efficient within time. Therefore training
modalities need to be changed to avoid the body becoming used to
Overload – This is where the athlete will
perform work at a greater intensity or volume of work given or
decrease the recovery time given in between efforts of a given
volume of intensity. This will allow the body to become stronger,
fitter, improved endurance and work as an effective machine.
Do you need to be training aerobically or
For a triathlon both aspects of training
will need to be considered.
Strength and power training
This is critical to allow
- a single muscular contraction to be effective with the least
amount of energy consumed
- to be able to perform the maximum amount of work in a given
Speed and Cross training – The triathlon
athlete will benefit from this as all three events can be utilised
in the training programme again which will give optimum performance
with minimal effort and prevent injury.
The athlete may also want to consider a sports
massage. This will give great benefits to performance
- Improving blood flow to the muscles
- Improve the muscle and surrounding soft tissue extensibility
- Stretches the muscle sheath and surrounding tissues
- Breaks down scar tissue formed during injury or from past
- Helps to prevent injury
- Increase tissue permeability
- Prevent loss of range and mobility
- Boost performance
The past few pages have given a brief insight to the importance
of warm up and stretching, training techniques and injury
prevention. If you have any questions on the information that you
have just read, or feel that you would like to come in for a chat,
assessment or have any worries on injuries Please call:
01245 234045 where our friendly team of physiotherapists
will be more than happy to assist you.
The stretch position should be assumed gradually and gently and
held for about 30 seconds. During this time no discomfort should be
felt in the stretched muscle. At the end of the 30 seconds come
back to the baseline position and perform the same stretch again.
Due to the physiological benefits that take place during stretching
each stretch you should be able to go a little further. Each
stretch should be repeated three to four times for a 30 seconds
Soleus and Gastrocnemius ( Calf)
Place the stance leg in front slightly bent and the stretch leg
behind bent. Then gradually move your trunk backwards, as if you
were going to sit. You should feel a stretch in the lower calf into
the ankle. Make sure your knee is over your foot and foot pointing
Place the stance leg in front bent and the stretch leg behind
straight. Make sure your foot is pointing forwards, knee is over
the foot and heel on the floor. Slightly increase the weight that
is applied through the stance leg. The stretch should be felt in
the mid calf towards the ankle.
Place the foot of the leg to be stretched on the wall and
gradually bring your body over the foot. The stretch should be felt
in the upper calf, below the knee.
Grip the foot of the leg you wish to stretch and bring it
towards your bottom. At this position, slightly tilt your pelvis
forwards and t
try to keep your knees together. Try to make sure that during
the stretch you do not twist your pelvis or trunk.
Bring the stretch leg out in front keeping it straight and the
stance leg bent. Gently lean into the stance leg keeping your back
straight and sticking your bottom out and upwards
Place the stretch leg on a beam bar or bed, keeping it straight.
Then gradually tilt forwards from the hips ( not the back) till a
stretch is felt in the hamstrings
Laying on a flat surface, bring your stretch leg up into your
chest and slightly across to the opposite shoulder till a stretch
is felt in the buttocks. Try to make sure that your pelvis does not
twist or that your back comes off of the surface.
Lay onto a flat surface, bring the stretch leg up so the knee is
over the hip and rotate outwards, then bring the stance leg up to
meet the ankle of the stretch leg. Grasp the back of the stance leg
and pull in towards your chest so the stretch is felt in the
Begin in the kneeling position; place the stance leg out in
front so the knee and hip are at right angles and the stretch leg
behind. Then gently tilt your pelvis backwards and push the hips
forwards. A stretch should be felt at the top of the leg
Lay on a flat surface close to the edge. Allow the stretch leg
to hang off the side of the surface and bring the stance leg into
your chest. A stretch should be felt at the top of the leg. Try to
make sure that your pelvis does not twist or your back comes off of
Stand with your feet slightly further then shoulder width apart.
Then gradually lean towards the side you would like to stretch,
making sure your knee is over your foot and the foot is pointing
forwards. The stretch should be felt in the groin.
Place the stretch leg behind the stance leg and turn the foot of
the stretch in. Then gradually lean onto a surface and push the
hips out to the opposite side. The stretch should be felt along the
lower back at the side, hips and down the outside of the leg.
Posterior shoulder and upper back
Place the stretch arm across the body (at about nipple height)
with the other arm gently pull the stretch arm into towards the
body. A stretch should be felt at the back of the
Bring both arms in front of the body at shoulder height, turn
your palms outwards, tuck your chin into your chest and gradually
push your hands away from you. A stretch should be felt across the
Bring both arms behind the body, so the hands sit into the small
of the back. Then gently try to squeeze the shoulder blades
together and try to make the elbows meet. The stretch should be
felt across the chest.
Faye Patterson - Chartered Physiotherapist
Khan, K., Brukner, P., et al., 2006, Clinical Sports Medicine