Friday, January 16, 2009

Physical Therapy for the Triathlete

So every friday afternoon I get the opportunity to hear physical therapy cases at rounds on various topics including everything from pediatrics to traumatic brain injuries. Today I was lucky enough to hear one low back pain/hip pain and triathletes. Boy was I excited! 

Although I don't have many followers of my blog, I thought I would present this regardless..... Some of the more seasoned triathletes may already know this but a common injury/condition in triathletes is low back pain and hip pain. There is a mile long list of differential diagnoses so I will just stick to the case on this one. In this particular athlete, both the low back pain and hip pain were attributed to pelvic misalignment as well weak musculature of the back extensors, core, transverus abdominus, gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus. 

To fix, the pelvic misalignment, all that is required is a mobilization from your local, friendly physical therapist. When musculature is weak, your spine can easily get out of wack. This is something that you want to fix so it doesn't happen again! (Not something that you need to go to a chiropractor for every day for the rest of your life) So for low back pain you are going to specifically want to strengthen the back extensors, glut med, and glut max. Specific exercises that you would do include: supermans, back extensions, side lying abduction/straight leg raise, and hip hikes. 

To further strengthen the core, specifically targeting the transversus, you would want to do abdominal hollowing, bridges, and side bridges. There has been a lot of medical research lately about the involvement of the transversus abdominus and it's role in stabilizing the spine. The transversus is the deepest abdominal muscle that runs perpendicular to your core. Who would think this deep, smaller muscle would play such a role? The core is the central section of the kinetic chain. Simply put if your core is weak, it could transfer easily down the kinetic chain!

Given the rigors of triathlon training, one could easily leave out these vital strengthening components. The core and back should not be neglected in your training as they are the center of all your swimming, biking, and running!  Happy training  and say warm!

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