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  #1  
Old 09-26-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Default What Acutally Happens When You're "Pressing the Chest"?

Hey all,

I've been thinking a lot in my swim coaching about "pressing the chest" these days. I've been thinking about the relationship between posture, and also the activation of certain muscles in the torso and core that make this "pressing the chest" happen.

Does anyone know of any physiological studies that talk about what exactly happens in the body when you attempt to "press the chest" correctly?

Also I'm interested in postural issues in relation to body balance in the water - any studies anyone has heard of there as well?

Thanks!

Coach DShen
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  #2  
Old 09-26-2012
borate borate is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen View Post

Also I'm interested in postural issues in relation to body balance in the water - any studies anyone has heard of there as well?
The study here, though a bit dated, might be of interest. "Pressing the chest" is addressed in this paragraph...

"Terry Laughlin and John Delves propose that 'pressing your buoy', i.e. the chest area, downwards can assist in gaining a level alignment. However, while this is an image that swimmers might be able to use, the mechanical reality is that the balancing effect must come from external torques. Thus, the 'buoy' might be 'pushed down' by generating external torques somehow. Without generating the external torques by some mechanism, 'pressing your buoy' is akin to 'lifting oneself by one's shoe laces'."
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  #3  
Old 09-26-2012
jma1970 jma1970 is offline
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I am not a good swimmer, but I am good with physics. My understanding of "Pressing the chest" is:

1. It is not about pushing down, it is about what part of your body is above the water and what is under. The balance is between gravity and buoyant force, you cannot change your weight, nor can you change your center of gravity much in a superman glide, however you can change the center of buoyant force a little by choosing which part of your body is under water -- then with Archimedes' principle etc.

2. Also it has something to do with posture, by pushing down on chest, your pelvis can open up more, thus legs can be higher.
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  #4  
Old 09-26-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen View Post
Hey all,

I've been thinking a lot in my swim coaching about "pressing the chest" these days. I've been thinking about the relationship between posture, and also the activation of certain muscles in the torso and core that make this "pressing the chest" happen.

Does anyone know of any physiological studies that talk about what exactly happens in the body when you attempt to "press the chest" correctly?

Also I'm interested in postural issues in relation to body balance in the water - any studies anyone has heard of there as well?

Thanks!

Coach DShen
It's still a bit of a controversial issue. Quite honestly, if I was hired to help a scientific group to study this, I wouldn't really know what to test for. You'll understand better when I explain what I think the biggest benefit of this Mantra is.

So many developing swimmers *think* they're relaxed, whilst in fact they're not. Rings a bell?

It's reasonable to believe that some of these swimmers try to keep their upperbody too high on the water. They don't feel home in the water, they don't feel they belong there at all. Some may even *train* in the pool instead of swimming (sad).

If you want to teach someone the early stages of buoyancy, often, the best exercise is to ask them to try and retrieve an object that's at the bottom of the pool (shallow section obviously). Then they realize whilst trying to sink down, that it ain't that easy.

Pressing your chest down whilst swimming is a good way to discover your ground zero of swimming. It could help relaxing as once you know you're down (ie, you pressed your chest down) and still feel that you float, then why staying tensed? So I'd tell a beginner: "just let go, don't struggle. Water will carry you, press your chest down whilst swimming, you'll see you won't sink. Enjoy and relaxe..." etc....

Obviously, the number 1 reason most coaches would use this mantra is to expect a certain improvement in balance, ie pressing your chest down may help the legs to go back up. But for me, there's much more to it.

Can it be test scientifically? Ouffff I don't think so. Got to look elsewhere for these answers I'm afraid.
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  #5  
Old 09-26-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Originally Posted by CharlesCouturier View Post
If you want to teach someone the early stages of buoyancy, often, the best exercise is to ask them to try and retrieve an object that's at the bottom of the pool (shallow section obviously). Then they realize whilst trying to sink down, that it ain't that easy.

A version of the jellyfish...this is very effective for triathletes wiht lean/dense long legs who constantly have sinking hips. They are 'sitting up' when they swim int he same sort of way that 'sitting up straight' while typing lifts your chest up and forward. There is an activation of the spinal erector muscles that create a gentle lordosis in the entire thoracic spine.

"pressing the chest" is a subjective way to get the spine to flex just a little bit by contracting the abs and relaxing the posterior erector muscles. As others have noted it may or may not be enough to get the hips up and chest down.

But as cHarles notes, it can help swimmers learn how to 'relax' by allowing the front of the body to come lower in the water.

Changing the SHAPE of the torso (from extensor flexed to neutral) is going to place different masses of the body in the water and allow other masses to float higher, even if not balanced.

Finally adding arms in front and allow ing those arms to be below the surface of the water at an angle of "4 oclock" or "happy hour arms" again shifts the masses that are under the water and allows the back and hips to float higher.

For some this is enough,but in the end others will need a small amount of forward momentum to get the LEGS to float up. ANYONE should be able to easily get the HIPS at the surface. If the buttocks are then tensed and the hip flexors flexible, which is asking a lot for triathletes and grownups that sit all day), the legs can then stream behind the torso.
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  #6  
Old 09-27-2012
samruhi samruhi is offline
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Default Balance

So while I do a superman glide allowing all the air out as I go I can sink to the bottom of a shallow pool horizontally. Is this one way of checking if you are balanced.
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  #7  
Old 09-27-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Originally Posted by samruhi View Post
So while I do a superman glide allowing all the air out as I go I can sink to the bottom of a shallow pool horizontally. Is this one way of checking if you are balanced.
I have never seen that before! Amazing!

Balance refers to how horizontal you are, not if you sink or not. As long as you are horizontal your balance is good. Do you also sink when you swim or just SG?
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  #8  
Old 09-27-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
A version of the jellyfish...this is very effective for triathletes wiht lean/dense long legs who constantly have sinking hips. They are 'sitting up' when they swim int he same sort of way that 'sitting up straight' while typing lifts your chest up and forward. There is an activation of the spinal erector muscles that create a gentle lordosis in the entire thoracic spine.
Do you have a video of this version of the jellyfish? The only one I know is to float but let your arms and legs hang downward in relaxed fashion. Did you mean a certain arch or lack of arch or straightening of the back as a variant?

And by sitting up and in your description of spinal erectors, you mean that they are activated such that they are pulling the body upward with the hips as a rotation/anchor point?

RE: typing position

This gets to my posture experiments. Most of the time, I meet people who work on computers and they do not sit up straight but rather they start caving in towards the chest - their pecs get short, their back muscles lengthen and weaken, their spine starts arching downward. I am experimenting with postural corrective exercises to see if this can help with being able to press the chest in the water. Certainly an arch in the thoracic spine area seems to be the antithesis of pressing the chest since the chest is retreating towards the back!


Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
"pressing the chest" is a subjective way to get the spine to flex just a little bit by contracting the abs and relaxing the posterior erector muscles. As others have noted it may or may not be enough to get the hips up and chest down.
OK cool - the muscles you activate/deactivate here make sense to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
But as cHarles notes, it can help swimmers learn how to 'relax' by allowing the front of the body to come lower in the water.

Changing the SHAPE of the torso (from extensor flexed to neutral) is going to place different masses of the body in the water and allow other masses to float higher, even if not balanced.
Yep - back to my posture experiments....

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
Finally adding arms in front and allow ing those arms to be below the surface of the water at an angle of "4 oclock" or "happy hour arms" again shifts the masses that are under the water and allows the back and hips to float higher.
Yep - standard beginner TI techniques here to spear deeper, get recovering arm forward quicker, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
For some this is enough,but in the end others will need a small amount of forward momentum to get the LEGS to float up. ANYONE should be able to easily get the HIPS at the surface. If the buttocks are then tensed and the hip flexors flexible, which is asking a lot for triathletes and grownups that sit all day), the legs can then stream behind the torso.
I've also been experimenting with techniques to treat gluteal amnesia which is the result of sitting way too many years and they shut down. As you say, sitting also shortens the hip flexors so working on lengthening/stretching those too.
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  #9  
Old 11-13-2012
CoachIngridMiller CoachIngridMiller is offline
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Hey David,

I have been taking Pilates/researching it a bit and the postural teachings are amazingly helpful and quite simple- something to possibly add to your experiments.
Good posture is, I think, "pressing the chest" and it goes like this. Seat the head over the hips rather than chin jutting forward--think more like "double chin" position. Lengthen the neck with the imaginary string at the crown of the head. Slide shoulder blades down and away from the ears. Expand the chest sideways (not forward). Suck in the abdominals, bringing the belly button near the spine. With loads of practice you can do this in a flash and it feels terrific on land and very speedy in the water.
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  #10  
Old 11-14-2012
russellw russellw is offline
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Hi all,

This thread is full of great information for someone like me. I have been practicing TI for about 3 years now, drills are fine, but my stroke at times, is still a struggle.

I remember Terry's advice, Balance, Streamline and propulsion, which brings me back to this thread. I feel my balance us still not correct as I can feel drag from my hops downward. I work at a desk all day, and unfortunately slump over my keyboard, which from reading your thoughts, may well have an adverse effect on my position in the water.

Today I will go in the pool, should I practice shoulders back, belly in and see how this feels ?? Is it as simple as that ? Or have I missed the point !!

If I bring shoulders back, will this invert my body to a " banana" shape ???

I hope this works !! I am also practicing this position now while sitting !!


Thanks

Russ
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