After reading numerous opinions on this topic one thing is clear, there are many causes of injury in endurance sport. Cause of injury can also depend heavily on age, performance group and nature of event/training. It should come as no surprise that running accounts for the most injuries.
1 Overtraining – Reported by most as being the N#1 main cause of injury. Best defined as ‘a diminished performance that results from an increase in either training volume or intensity’ Training = Workout + Recovery! It’s important to note that there are many factors that also contribute indirectly to overtraining such as stress etc. Signs of over training include but are not limited to a drop in performance, fatigue, weight loss and sickness.
b. Over training is hard to do for most of us. Working 40 to 50 hours per week and trying to fit in another 10 to 20 hours of training. May be it’s not the training load but more the “LIFE LOAD”. Balance is important, Weekly rest days are important.
2 Overuse/Repetitive Stress – Chronic irritation to soft tissue leading to small tears equals 80-85% of injuries. Stress fractures feature high under this heading along with calf and achilles tendon strains. Common periods of training in which an athlete is more vulnerable to injury include: when adding training volume; when increasing training intensity; when adding new movement patterns and when returning from an injury or an absence from training.
3 Poor biomechanics – Most will get away with poor form during lower volume. Do not expect this to be the case with higher volume.
Take a look at your riding position and cleat position. When employing a bike fitter make sure you get someone that looks at you off the bike and while riding under pressure. Just jumping on the bike in a shop without prior knowledge of body type, rider experience and goals will set you up for failure.
4 Muscle tightness – can often lead to nerve impingements and muscle imbalance through compensation. Tight muscles are inevitable in endurance sport however can be relieved through good biomechanics, stretching and massage. Common injuries include illiotibial friction syndrome and lower back pain.
In my experience tight hip flexor muscles are common in cyclists, especially athletes who sit at a desk during the day. Stretching these out just before you jump into bed makes it easier to get out of the bed in the morning.
5 Insufficient fluid/sodium – in athletes can lead to a number of very serious illnesses. This is more common in longer events such as Ironman where the sweat rate can be around 1-1.5litres per hour obviously depending on a number of factors which includes the type of athlete and the environment.
The 5 headings above can be linked in many ways. The field of injury causes in endurance sport is huge. There are some very interesting publications out there, take the time to have a read and proactively take steps to avoid the athletes biggest fear of injury. Recommended informative easy reads.