Here at Taylored Osteopathy we spend large amounts of our time looking at and addressing the specific causes that limit aspects of your day to day activities. We look to isolate and remedy bio-mechanical problems that are often the predisposing factors that cause injury, discomfort or decreased performance.
We are proud to have become Gold Sponsors of Altona Swimming Club and we look forward to what is hopefully a long and valuable relationship. Swimming is such a fantastic sport with many factors that can lead to enjoyment and challenge.
In addition to this, Australia is a continent with a beachside attitude and the skills gained in the pool come in very handy when we spend time near our many water based holiday destinations.
As a long time swimmer I know first hand the demands and effort that swimming takes and the delicate balance of technique and strength. Recently I competed in Ironman Melbourne and spent more time back in the pool than I had in a while, and as we know the pool gives us ample opportunity to be in our own world and think. I spent a large amount of time focusing on my technique to improve my efficiency and implemented a lot of what I ask my patients to undertake while they are plugging away in their own training. So with that in mind i want to share a few of my key thoughts.
1 – You can’t fake technique.
How effortless do good swimmers look? They glide through the water and seem to find the path of least resistance from end to end. When we walk and run our bodies can achieve all sorts of different techniques to propel us forward, yet in the pool those that have poor technique are constantly battling against the water, rather than working with it to achieve their speed.
2 – So many repetitions.
When we are swimming we aim to replicate our ideal stroke time after time. When I was training for Ironman swimming highlighted when my shoulders, neck, upper back and lower back were suffering from the training load because i could feel those areas resisting and holding on to prevent me from achieving my most efficient and fluid action. Usually this would then build up through out a session leading to what can turn into substantial discomfort.
3 – Legs.
Kicking helps so much. I had forgotten how much higher I sat in the water when I was happily kicking along and adding power from the legs. We need to have nice, flexible hip flexors, good abdominal/low back control and capable gluteal muscles to deliver a strong and effective kick. A lot of swimmers that I treat present with sore lower backs because they are driving from the low back rather than having a good core and kicking from the hips.
4 – Breathing ain’t easy.
This is a specific thought that i hadn’t really appreciated until I had a problem. For as long as I could remember I had been able to breath left and right without thought. Then one day my neck got a little stiff and BANG, I couldn’t breath on my left side without significantly affecting my left arm movement towards the catch of my stroke. From an enjoyment aspect it really started to annoy me and took the fun out of my sessions, plus I then started to get sore on my right from all of the repetitions (see point 2) breathing on the right side.
5 – Strength training.
Specific training of muscles that can help with holding a better position of the body while swimming make such a difference to the overall effectiveness of your stroke. If you have good control of your Upper and lower back, and can provide a stable platform for the arms and legs to apply power that gliding feeling in the water comes so much easier, and you use less energy, because the muscles are now able to do their primary job at pushing water rather than also trying to stabilise. Working on strengthening the stabilising muscles then allow the power muscles to to a much better job.
Overall swimming is great skill and a great way to get fit and stay fit. Substantial gains can be made from improvements of technique and strength and at Taylored Osteopathy we work to facilitate these changes. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals through these means and also keeping you happy in the water so you can train harder and more consistently.
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