"Elliptical? Rowing? Cycling? A Beginner's

guide to cross-training":  http://bit.ly/1vZpZqx  

Welcome to the Triathlete's Tab!

Discussing Extra-ordinary Treatment for Extra-ordinary Athletes

   by Matthew Harris MD, MBA

Triathletes are a truly unique breed of athletes.  Plain and simple.  Ordinary treatments were never designed for Extra-ordinary individuals.  There is no sport in the world that places greater physical, physiological or psychological demand on an athlete.  We as Orthopedists need to be ready and able to step away from dogma and push the envelope of what we're capable of, just as Triathletes push those same barriers every time they lace up the sneakers, jump on the bike, or dive in the water.   Dr. Harris should know.  He has been a life-long athlete himself, playing Division 1 sports in college.  And still, that doesn't even come close to the talent that his wife has demonstrated as a competitive Triathlete.  To learn more about Dr. Harris's approach to keeping runners running, swimmers swimming, and Triathletes competing in the face of adversity or arthritis, click here.      

This page is dedicated specifically to all those Triathletes searching for information that will keep them up to date with all of the latest treatment strategies designed specifically for them.   

Everyone is invited to follow Dr. Harris on the practice's Twitter feed @JPLRC_Florida which can be linked to from any page on this site.  There, you will find continual postings of advice and thoughts from Dr. Harris and some of the people that he communicates with on a regular basis, such as @usatriathlon and @IronmanTri

For Those Getting Started:  There are athletes of all levels who compete in Triathlons, and oftentimes, I can guess your level of experience based simply on the injury that you are coming to see me with.  So the question is, "Why can I do that?"  The answer is simpler than you might think.  Seasoned veterans have learned how to train, they have learned what works for them and what doesn't, and they know where the limits lie.  Rookies and newcomers have not yet begun to amass this knowledge, and in the game of Triathlons, these rookie mistakes usually land you in my office.  They are almost inevitably overuse injuries, either from improper technique, improper gear, a lack of sufficient rest between sessions, or some combination of all of these.   

Runner's World (@runnersworld) recently ran a great article that anyone getting started in competitive cross-training

should take a glance at.      


Common Overuse Injuries:  

  1. Stress Fracture - this occurs when a "perfect storm" is created for a particular bone.  Rarely is it ever due to only one cause.  To learn more about Stress Fractures, click here.   
  2. Meniscal Injury - these can occur because of everything from a fall, to just plain bad luck while bending your knee while loading the joint.  To learn more about these, click here.   
  3. Tendinitis - painful inflammation of your tendons isn't just annoying, it's dangerous.  An inflamed tendon is an at-risk tendon.  Tendon tears and ruptures occur more commonly in tendons that are inflamed.  It is important to identify the cause of the tendinitis, treat it quickly and effectively, and modify your activity level during the healing process. Dr. Harris has an entire page devoted to Tendinitis.  To learn more, click here.  
  4. Cartilage injury - Moderate running and bicycling actually have been proven to lead to thicker cartilage along our joint surfaces.  However, the repetitive pounding that our joints take during intense training, or a grueling race opens the door for subtle cartilage damage.  If ignored or left untreated, this subtle damage can give way to much more serious full-thickness cartilage defects.  To learn more, click here.   

Personal Story:  Dr. Harris once had a nurse practitioner who competed in Kona.  Upon return from Hawaii, she noticed that her left knee was very swollen and painful.  She agreed to undergo an arthroscopy of her knee, and to both of their horrors, we discovered a full-thickness defect in one area, and several other areas of extensive cartilage damage.  After the surgery, she admitted that she had been experiencing more and more pain leading up to the race, and chose to ignore it out of fear that she may miss her chance to compete in Kona.  Her ability to run significant distances and train hard again was to forever be limited.  She reached her goal, but at an incredibly steep price that could have been prevented.   


Message to My Patients:  There are strategies and therapies available to all levels of athletes at all points in their training cycle.  The worse thing that you can ever do is ignore what your body is telling you.  Your body does not Lie. It has NO incentive to.  Let's instead sit down, discuss your goals, come up with a plan and reach a compromise. We'll offer you all that medicine has to offer using the latest in technologies and treatments, and together, we will help you achieve your goals safely.   So that you can then make more goals after that one, and keep reaching for the next.   Nobody will be happier to see you running and competing well into your 60's and 70's on your own joints than Dr. Harris will be.  Not even you.   

For "Up-and-Coming" Triathletes:  Congratulations on making it through the difficult beginnings of competing in Triathlons.  By now, you've learned your sport, you've learned what it takes, and most importantly, you've begun to learn your body.  This is learning that must never stop though.  Our physiology changes with every passing year, as does our anatomy.  Staying healthy means staying in tune.  Our focus now is keeping you healthy during your prime, and competing at a high level for many years to come, injury-free.