Nation's Tri blog

Erin Stephens Lavaman Waikoloa small

We met Erin through our 50 States Campaign. She’s making the trek from Hawaii to race with us in Washington, D.C. It’s not too late to send in your entry for the campaign – we’re hoping to have a representative from every state on the race course! Erin has some great advice for staying injury free as you are ramping up your training for Nation’s Tri.


Swim stroke feeling off? Not getting as much power as usual on the bike? Got that “runner’s knee” going on? Fear not, triathlete!

When the cold hand of injury strikes down on an athlete, the punishment is usually the same: cross-train. (I can already feel runners squirm in their seat at the thought of doing anything else but hitting the pavement.) Triathletes can scoff at this one. “Cross-train?! Son, I do that on the daily. I eat 3 sports a day for BREAKFAST!”

Got it. And usually, this is enough. When a triathlete’s foot is bothering them, they take a couple days off and put more time in the saddle or hit the pool.

But when happens when a triathlete has a lingering problem? If you are like any triathlete, ever, on the face on the planet, you have probably overdone it at some point. Loading up on miles, intensity, or both. Or forgoing rest. (Sleep misses you, by the way….)

Yes, we do three different sports. But that is still not all the ways a human can move. We are not immune to injury, especially when we spend so much time doing those three things. Every time we exercise, we create small tears in our muscle. These are called “micro-traumas,” and normally, with adequate rest after, these are actually good. This is what creates a stronger, fitter muscle.

When we add on the hours, we tend to overuse our muscles. The accumulation of these small tears will tell your body to produce some tough scar tissue. This binds to the muscle and does not allow it to move freely. (It is not your imagination; your right arm hasn’t been able to reach as far during your swim stroke…)

Ridiculous panic and desperation from a nagging knee injury led to me hunt down some options, including the one that worked and the one reason I stay fresh all year long: A.R.T.

No, not ART. The acronym stands for Active Release Technique. It soft tissue movement and treatment. It is different from other massage technique because it can break up scar tissue and adhesions. It can treat many problems, including the ones triathletes might run into, such as shin splits, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and knee problems. These movements break up that scar tissue, restoring the muscle to normal movement. (Woo hoo!)

When I stumbled into A.R.T., it was a huge relief. I broke up with my aqua jogging belt for the time being and got back to what I love. Now I go to a session once a month or so for maintenance. She opens me up, breaks up the beginning of any scar tissue, and allows my body to take on more. My training, as a result, has been able to stay consistent. With consistent training comes some sweet results. (Hello, PR’s!)

Alright, Erin, I’ve got this nagging neck/shoulder thing and I’m picking up what you’re putting down. There is only TWO months left until Nation’s Tri. What do I do now? 
Go to to read more about it and perhaps find a provider near you. Many providers will also be chiropractors, so your health insurance will maybe already have you covered! (Sweet!) I wandered into Makai Chiropractic here in Kona back in 2012, and Ann Griffin has given me the rock star treatment ever since.  

Trust me, a few A.R.T. sessions will do wonders after countless hours of crouching into the fetal, I mean aero, position on the bike.

Erin Stephens

Erin Stephens is a female triathlete who picked up the sport during her service as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii in Kona. Inspired as a volunteer during the 2011 Ironman World Championship, she signed up the very next day for the 70.3 distance without owning a bicycle yet. She now races triathlon for the 2015 TriggerPoint Endurance Team. She can be reached at