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  #1  
Old 12-08-2012
Stevew46 Stevew46 is offline
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Stevew46
Default freestyle with a back injury

one of the main reasons im trying to learn TI is that after prolapsing one of my Lumbar discs in Sept 2011 I found the only cv exercise I could do without aggravating my back was swimming, and whilst on one of my 1mile workouts I met a guy who put me onto TI. To say I was hooked straight away was an understatement and for just over a year now I've been trying my best to learn TI crawl. However, after posting on here recently enquiring about what would be a realistic time for a fairly fit 48 yr old for a 2 mile swim, one of the things I realised I wasn't doing very well was generating any propulsion from my hips, so last Tuesday I swam 2 mile concentrating almost entirely on hip rotation, but the next day when standing suddenly from a sitting position I put my back out again and here I am 3 days later still unable to sit or get up from a laying position (which I eventually have to do to sleep) and feel as though my back is now well and truly mullered! As such can any of the experts offer any advice on how I should build up my swimming once I'm again able to??? shorter distances? no rotation from hips? no crawl??? swimming, according to many is supposed to have little or no affects on the joints but Im convinced 1 hour of hip rotating as exacerbated my old back injury and i don't want it to happen again and I definately don't want to retire! running, cycling football and squash have all had to be given up because of my back and I'm just not prepared to stop swimming, no matter what! your help/ advice will be greatly appreciated, thankyou.

steve, England.
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  #2  
Old 12-09-2012
Starrfam Starrfam is offline
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Starrfam
Default RE: freestyle with a back injury

Hi steve,

How often are you swimming? And more specifically, how often do you do 2 mile swims? How long did those two miles take you? Focusing on aspects of the swim strokes is certainly good, but if your technique was off, or over rotating, your two miles of swimming clearly would irritate a sensitive lower back.
Js
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  #3  
Old 12-09-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Steve,

I also found TI as the result of surgery for an L5/S1 hemi-laminectomy/discectomy. I have permanent nerve damage in my right leg with numbness in the S1 nerve and weakness (fairly unnoticable now except for isolated leg raises).

So I can 100% relate to your current situation.

my guess is that in trying to get rotation from the hips you were also twisting in the lumbar region which certainly flared up your previous problem.

Where in England are you located? I advise would be to see one of the excellent TI coaches in England for an evaluatoin of your stroke and corrections to prevent re-injury.

I'm not sure what your financial situation is, but certainly a 3-5 lesson package is less expensive than missing a week or two of work in the event you repeat the injry and have to take time off?

Good luck and hang in there, you'll get better.
__________________
Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #4  
Old 12-09-2012
Stevew46 Stevew46 is offline
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That's excellent and most welcome advice Suzanne, thankyou; I live in Yorkshire in the north of England , but getting anywhere in the UK has got to be easier and cheaper that travelling to America (one of the things id love to do b4 I'm too old! I'd like to meet the great man himself), If i'm hoest I think my stroke is all over the place and some expert guidance would, I'm sure, be invaluable! I'm swimming 2 mile twice a week most weeks mainly, for the CV workout, without being able to run / cycle I feel I really need it, but didn't need this as I'm now confined to shuffling around the house. As soon as I'm able ill get booked on a course, can't really justify expense right now but like you say, it's got to be cheaper than coming off work, and the day I give up swimming will be the day i leave this place for pastures new! Thanks again Suzanne,


Steve.

Last edited by Stevew46 : 12-09-2012 at 02:23 PM. Reason: Spelling!
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  #5  
Old 12-11-2012
craig.arnold@gmail.com craig.arnold@gmail.com is offline
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craig.arnold@gmail.com
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Hi Steve,

My back has been bad for many years. The good news is that an MRI in the summer shows that most of the disk degeneration has already taken place, and that although I will get stiffer/less mobility in the lower back as I age probably the worst of the pain is behind me. (*cough*)

I found that improving my stroke, in particular preventing a lower-back arching because of a high head position was very helpful in reducing the pain from swimming. Nowadays I hardly have any pain when I swim, which lets me swim more, which makes it stronger - hopefully in a nice virtuous circle.

IMO anything which improves your balance in the water is going to help avoid strain. So keep working on technique.

Would it be possible to reduce your distance and increase your number of sessions? When my back used to be very sore I would go down to 1000m per session, but make sure that I kept up 5-6 sessions a week. As my strength built up and my technique improved I could increase the distance, though I still try to maintain 5-6 sessions a week wherever I can. My base distance is 1500m, which I probably do 2-3 times a week, 2000m 1-2 times a week, and 3000m only once a week at the moment.

Practice your technique and the fitness and conditioning will take care of itself. Well, at least it has for me.
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  #6  
Old 12-11-2012
Scotty Scotty is offline
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Default Ease in to a new technique

Steven:

I'm not an internationally famous sports doc like Coach Suzanne (her advice has really improved my swimming), but let me give you my two cents worth. I think that whether swimming, running, or in any other exercise you need to be very cautious when performing high repetitions of a new technique.

Your new movement of activating your hips more when executing the stroke may have involved perfect form. But after a high number of repetitions muscles that are not used to being activated in a certain motion get fatigued. Your body compensates by using other muscles to continue the exercise, often in ways that are counter to good body mechanics.

Prior to TI I used to kick primarily from my knees which produced incredible drag. During a session I decided to refocus and kick primarily from my hips and core. I spent a good 45 minutes on this technique. It was about 10 days before I could return to the pool because of strain in the abs and misalignment of my hips.

Had I decreased the intensity of this workout, and practiced 10 minutes or so and then switched to another drill I would have been fine. Gradually I could have acclimated my muscles to the new technique.

Last month I decided I wanted to build up my quadriceps so I started doing very high reps of leg extensions with a very light weight. My hips were so sore the next day I could barely walk because instead of remaining stationary they "cheated" and assisted me in lifting the weight.

As I age (turning 60 in May) I have discovered that moderation and mindfulness is key when adjusting my stroke or attempting a new exercise. If my math is correct your two mile swim meant that each hip was rotating about 1100 times, assuming 16 strokes per 25 yards. That's a lot of repetitions!

When you get back to the pool just ease into the rotation and you will be fine.

Scotty
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  #7  
Old 12-12-2012
Stevew46 Stevew46 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craig.arnold@gmail.com View Post
Hi Steve,

My back has been bad for many years. The good news is that an MRI in the summer shows that most of the disk degeneration has already taken place, and that although I will get stiffer/less mobility in the lower back as I age probably the worst of the pain is behind me. (*cough*)

I found that improving my stroke, in particular preventing a lower-back arching because of a high head position was very helpful in reducing the pain from swimming. Nowadays I hardly have any pain when I swim, which lets me swim more, which makes it stronger - hopefully in a nice virtuous circle.

IMO anything which improves your balance in the water is going to help avoid strain. So keep working on technique.

Would it be possible to reduce your distance and increase your number of sessions? When my back used to be very sore I would go down to 1000m per session, but make sure that I kept up 5-6 sessions a week. As my strength built up and my technique improved I could increase the distance, though I still try to maintain 5-6 sessions a week wherever I can. My base distance is 1500m, which I probably do 2-3 times a week, 2000m 1-2 times a week, and 3000m only once a week at the moment.

Practice your technique and the fitness and conditioning will take care of itself. Well, at least it has for me.
Thanks Craig, to be honest I've been trying to run before I could walk, that and wanting to keep up cv workouts as led to a failure in improving and the frustration that caused resulted in overdoing trying to correct individual faults! From now on I'm going to try and stick to much shorter distances concentrating on each individual aspect of the stroke, re reading the book and buying the DVD will hopefully help! Trouble is I've signed up for a 5k swim in June so need to get cracking! Thanks again Craig,
Steve.
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  #8  
Old 12-12-2012
Stevew46 Stevew46 is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2012
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Stevew46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotty View Post
Steven:

I'm not an internationally famous sports doc like Coach Suzanne (her advice has really improved my swimming), but let me give you my two cents worth. I think that whether swimming, running, or in any other exercise you need to be very cautious when performing high repetitions of a new technique.

Your new movement of activating your hips more when executing the stroke may have involved perfect form. But after a high number of repetitions muscles that are not used to being activated in a certain motion get fatigued. Your body compensates by using other muscles to continue the exercise, often in ways that are counter to good body mechanics.

Prior to TI I used to kick primarily from my knees which produced incredible drag. During a session I decided to refocus and kick primarily from my hips and core. I spent a good 45 minutes on this technique. It was about 10 days before I could return to the pool because of strain in the abs and misalignment of my hips.

Had I decreased the intensity of this workout, and practiced 10 minutes or so and then switched to another drill I would have been fine. Gradually I could have acclimated my muscles to the new technique.

Last month I decided I wanted to build up my quadriceps so I started doing very high reps of leg extensions with a very light weight. My hips were so sore the next day I could barely walk because instead of remaining stationary they "cheated" and assisted me in lifting the weight.

As I age (turning 60 in May) I have discovered that moderation and mindfulness is key when adjusting my stroke or attempting a new exercise. If my math is correct your two mile swim meant that each hip was rotating about 1100 times, assuming 16 strokes per 25 yards. That's a lot of repetitions!

When you get back to the pool just ease into the rotation and you will be fine.

Scotty
Thanks Scotty, along with coach Suzanne's comments I think you make perfect sense! Regardless of whether or not I'm doing something right or wrong, if its a new task it shouldn't be repeated constantly for an hour non stop! At my age I should have known better especially as a few years ago, before finding TI, I injured both shoulders by overdoing a deeper pull with my hands, for 2 miles, after someone said its the way to go faster!!!
Thanks again Scotty, steve.

Last edited by Stevew46 : 12-12-2012 at 09:15 PM. Reason: Spelling
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  #9  
Old 12-21-2012
cs10 cs10 is offline
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Posts: 26
cs10
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Hi Steve,
I've read the advise others have offered and it's all very good. Only thing I can add is to keep it smooth, smooth,smooth. Often people with sore backs unconsciously tense up around the sore bit to protect it. When they try to move it won't go, won't go then goes with a jerk.
As far as healing your back as distinct from working around it.... keep on swimming; you sound as if you love it and it raises your spirits. Your spirit is what really heals you. Most healing occurs during sleep. The human body has tremendous healing power if you get yourself into healing mode. Some points on doing this;
The body has energy priorities; first it completes digestion then it cleans then it heals and recovers then it can go into more esoteric things like gaining higher knowledge.... If you have a large heavy meal just before bed you will spend all your sleep digesting and cleaning and never get into healing. A smaller meal with a higher percentage of fresh raw alkaline organic vegtetables taken more than 2 hours before sleep will mean your body will spend more time in the healing stage.
The human body was designed to be in 24/7 electrical contact with the earth. Most modern people have almost none; they live in insulated buildings, drive insulated rubber tyred cars and wear insulating soled shoes. The ultimate bioelectrical contact with the earth is swimming in the ocean but you'd have to be pretty brave in the Nth England winter.Walking barefoot on (paticularly wet or dewy) grass or natural surface is excellent. This can have a quite radical effect on inflammatory injuries. There is some good info on the net if you look up earthing or grounding.
The way you breathe is vitally important. Most Western people hold their bodies against their breathing . A whole symphony of things happen during an optimal breath. On inhale joints should open and a concave wave should go up the spine and a convex wave down the spine on exhale.This wave is very healing. A breath should be nasal, slow ,smooth,flowing and initiated from the diaphram and full but still low volume. In freestyle we must inhale through the mouth but as many characteristics of an optimal breath should be kept. The best info on the smooth ,flowing part I've come across can be found if you google ;Mike White - optimal breathing.
As far as exercise goes I beleive most people err on the side of being so over cautious they get little results.They also have very poor form.You have to use your own judgement and advice from your therapist but I beleive bridging exercises, starting with simple hip raises done with perfect form are excellent therapy for disc injuries."Convict Conditioning" By Paul Wade available if you google; Dragon door- products- books is an excellent 10 step program starting very simply and not progressing till you reach a high standard with perfect form.Results will be accelerated if you warm the area with some thing like a top quality far infra red lamp.(" Relax" is a good brand)
There are some very good traction devices around.Opening up the space between vertabrae is very important in releaving pressure on discs.A yoga sling or "Nubax " unit are excellent.Smooth relaxed breathing is a must when using them.Most people tense on a yoga sling. If you google images of nubax and images of yoga sling you can see pictures.Again it will be helped with far infra red heat.
Swimming some backstroke would be good too.
The Western lifestyle promotes a rounded , forward bending tightly spaced vertabrae spine. I remember reading about historians digging up the battlesite of Custer's last stand.They could tell the Indians from the soldiers by looking at their spines. Most soldiers would have been uncomfortable on a horse and many would have been in agony.
It will take a lot more effort to live an unrestricted life doing things you love such as swimming,than to hope you can get by without too much pain but it is possible and well worth the effort.
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  #10  
Old 12-24-2012
Stevew46 Stevew46 is offline
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Posts: 36
Stevew46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cs10 View Post
Hi Steve,
I've read the advise others have offered and it's all very good. Only thing I can add is to keep it smooth, smooth,smooth. Often people with sore backs unconsciously tense up around the sore bit to protect it. When they try to move it won't go, won't go then goes with a jerk.
As far as healing your back as distinct from working around it.... keep on swimming; you sound as if you love it and it raises your spirits. Your spirit is what really heals you. Most healing occurs during sleep. The human body has tremendous healing power if you get yourself into healing mode. Some points on doing this;
The body has energy priorities; first it completes digestion then it cleans then it heals and recovers then it can go into more esoteric things like gaining higher knowledge.... If you have a large heavy meal just before bed you will spend all your sleep digesting and cleaning and never get into healing. A smaller meal with a higher percentage of fresh raw alkaline organic vegtetables taken more than 2 hours before sleep will mean your body will spend more time in the healing stage.
The human body was designed to be in 24/7 electrical contact with the earth. Most modern people have almost none; they live in insulated buildings, drive insulated rubber tyred cars and wear insulating soled shoes. The ultimate bioelectrical contact with the earth is swimming in the ocean but you'd have to be pretty brave in the Nth England winter.Walking barefoot on (paticularly wet or dewy) grass or natural surface is excellent. This can have a quite radical effect on inflammatory injuries. There is some good info on the net if you look up earthing or grounding.
The way you breathe is vitally important. Most Western people hold their bodies against their breathing . A whole symphony of things happen during an optimal breath. On inhale joints should open and a concave wave should go up the spine and a convex wave down the spine on exhale.This wave is very healing. A breath should be nasal, slow ,smooth,flowing and initiated from the diaphram and full but still low volume. In freestyle we must inhale through the mouth but as many characteristics of an optimal breath should be kept. The best info on the smooth ,flowing part I've come across can be found if you google ;Mike White - optimal breathing.
As far as exercise goes I beleive most people err on the side of being so over cautious they get little results.They also have very poor form.You have to use your own judgement and advice from your therapist but I beleive bridging exercises, starting with simple hip raises done with perfect form are excellent therapy for disc injuries."Convict Conditioning" By Paul Wade available if you google; Dragon door- products- books is an excellent 10 step program starting very simply and not progressing till you reach a high standard with perfect form.Results will be accelerated if you warm the area with some thing like a top quality far infra red lamp.(" Relax" is a good brand)
There are some very good traction devices around.Opening up the space between vertabrae is very important in releaving pressure on discs.A yoga sling or "Nubax " unit are excellent.Smooth relaxed breathing is a must when using them.Most people tense on a yoga sling. If you google images of nubax and images of yoga sling you can see pictures.Again it will be helped with far infra red heat.
Swimming some backstroke would be good too.
The Western lifestyle promotes a rounded , forward bending tightly spaced vertabrae spine. I remember reading about historians digging up the battlesite of Custer's last stand.They could tell the Indians from the soldiers by looking at their spines. Most soldiers would have been uncomfortable on a horse and many would have been in agony.
It will take a lot more effort to live an unrestricted life doing things you love such as swimming,than to hope you can get by without too much pain but it is possible and well worth the effort.
Thanks very much, I'll look at all of this in more depth very soon. To be honest I've practically never been able to relax and apart from with a large glass of red im not sure I know how to; even though I've always been careful about what I eat I think I could do a lot better and in all honesty I never wake up from a nights sleep feeling refreshed, quite the opposite!
Thanks again and best wishes,

Steve.
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