So You Want to TRI?

triSo You Want to TRI?

On June 15 and 16th Highlands County will once again be hosting the Heartland Triathlon for kids and adults.  Triathlons which consist of swimming, bicycling and running can vary in distance. The Sprint distance entails a quarter mile swim in Lake Jackson, a 14 mile bike ride and finishes with a 3.1 mi run along the historic downtown circle.  This year an Olympic distance has been added consisting of swimming .9 miles, biking 24.8 miles and running 6.2 miles to finish.

Most people recognize the significance of strong and healthy feet for the running portion of the triathlon since runners spend a lot of time pounding their feet on hard ground. But most people don’t understand the importance of healthy feet when swimming.  Athlete’s Foot and toenail fungus infections can cause embarrassment with bare feet at the pool or lake.  To avoid fungus infections make sure to wear flip-flops around the pool and dry your feet well after you swim.  Cuts on the feet can happen when racing in open water, running from the beach into the water, possibly through rocks, shells, mud.

triswimSome swimmers experience pain in the muscles and joints in the upper body, such as shoulders, however, foot problems can occur. Feet help propel the body through the water.   There is flexing and extending of the foot with the strokes, but there is also the push-off at each end of the pool during practice.  Highlands County Hurricanes swim coach, Marvin Wolfe, relates lack of flexibility hinders older triathletes.  He recommends stretching exercises such as sitting on the feet and leaning back.  For foot and calf cramps he recommends standing stretches for the achilles tendon.  He also reminds us to adequately hydrate with water.  For practices longer than an hour replenish with electrolyte drinks.

One of the most common cycling complaints while riding is “hot feet”, known as burning sensations near the toes.   This sensation is mostly due to pinching of nerves. A simple test is the “squish test”. Pull out the insole from your cycle shoes.  Using a mirror, hold the insole up to your bare foot.  If you see any part of the foot beyond the insole’s edges, buy a wider shoe.   Quick solutions include:

  • move your cleats 2 – 3 mm towards the rear of shoe to take pressure off your forefoot
  • loosening your foot straps
  • try a different insole (either thinner if your shoe is too tight or more cushioned if you have room in the shoe )or custom foot bed
  • Choose socks made of high-tech fibers such as Coolmax and Thermax, which wick away sweat.
  • Check the shoes for irregular seams or straps/buckles which may be pressing against the outer edge of the forefoot
  • Buy a wider (in the forefoot) shoe or get your shoes stretched.tribike

Many runners, at some point or another, may become injured.  Common foot injuries when running include heel pain, achilles tendonitis, shin splints, stress fractures, neuromas and or sesamoiditis.
Heel pain known as heel spur syndrome or plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a ligament on the bottom of the foot which attaches to the heel.  Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation on the back of the heel. Shin splints or tibial stress syndrome refers to pain in the front or inner part of the lower leg.

Stress fracture also called hair line fracture is a weakening of the bone from repetitive stress. Neuroma pain is from an inflamed nerve in the ball of the foot.   Inflammation or injury of the sesamoid bones (sesamoiditis) located on the plantar surface of the big toe joint can also cause pain in athletes.

trirunIf left untreated, occasional foot pain can become constant foot pain which can force you to stop training.  Triathletes rely on their feet to participate in this sport. Remember healthy feet make the athlete! See you at the Lake Jackson Pier.

Dr. Olga Garcia Luepschen and the Gentle Foot Care Center are located on US 27.  Call us at 863-314-9255 or visit


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