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  #11  
Old 11-22-2014
Danny Danny is offline
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Maybe now is a good time to throw in my own analogy from another sport. In recent years I have begun to suspect that I am going to have to stop hiking in the mountains, which I love, because on the way down my knees just can't seem to take the beating and they are really in pain by the time I get to the bottom. Recently I got some coaching about jogging, where I found that my head position was poor and my weight was not well distributed over my feet because of posture problems. I have been working on this now for a couple of months, and, for the first time since I started thinking about this, I have been hiking again in the mountains. I am amazed that I have been able to come down with absolutely no knee pain, just by paying attention to my posture, my body rotation, etc. The trick seems to be to use my body rotation as a shock absorber, which only works if you have good posture.

So, as Charles notes, just because you get shoulder pain at a given SPL when you pick up the pace, doesn't mean that the pain won't go away if you get some new technique insights. Obviously each persons problems in this regard will be different, but some general discussion about things like body rotation and depth of spearing might help us all to diagnose our problems. The question is, should we be working on these issues at lower speeds or should we also try to figure out what is going bad for us when we start to reach our limits?
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  #12  
Old 11-23-2014
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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I think the shoulders can hurt at high speed low SPL as the proportion of 'pull' increases in the stroke.

With good flexibility the lats can handle the propulsive phase of the stroke from the length of the upper arm in front of the shoulder.

You can cheat the SPL game though by pulling from the end of the very end of the spear (something I did a lot of in the first 12 months of TI to force a Shinji 12SPL on my inexperienced body). I think there's a lot of shoulder in that movement.
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  #13  
Old 11-23-2014
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyinnorway View Post
I think the shoulders can hurt at high speed low SPL as the proportion of 'pull' increases in the stroke.

With good flexibility the lats can handle the propulsive phase of the stroke from the length of the upper arm in front of the shoulder.

You can cheat the SPL game though by pulling from the end of the very end of the spear (something I did a lot of in the first 12 months of TI to force a Shinji 12SPL on my inexperienced body). I think there's a lot of shoulder in that movement.
Andy, do you no longer try to pull with your shoulders as you describe above? It seems to me that this is what you would always like to do. If not, why not?

It seems to me that an equivalent way of looking at the same motion is to push your spearing arm forward from the end of the spear, which is the way I tend to view it.

Last edited by Danny : 11-23-2014 at 04:48 PM.
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  #14  
Old 11-27-2014
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Danny,

does this question 'why does it hurt to swim too fast at low SPL' mean that it hurts when swimming fast with a low SPL but not when swimming fast with a high SPL?
My personal experience is getting shoulder problems from swimming extensively at higher stroke rate. I know that in my capabilities I don't have the choice to swim at a too low SPL at a fast speed - I'd be happy if I could swim with a lower SPL at a high rate.
I don't know how many of us here really have problems with too low SPL at fast speeds.

I absolutely agree that shoulder problems come into place when the arm is in front. When 'pulling' the shoulder is in a quite safe position. Unless you pull with a straight arm downwards.

Also, I do use less rotation when swimming faster, it mainly happens on it's own. But I also try to rotate less at faster rates since it is difficult to maintain rotation at higher rates and it seems to be a loss of energy.
Theoretically it should be worse for your shoulders to rotate more since you need more internal rotation in the shoulder while stretching out the arm in front. And that internal rotation can kill the shoulder.

Also, Andy, I personally shorten my stroke at higher rates and my 'pull' phase is definitively shorter (in relation to the entire stroke cycle) at fast rates than at slow rates - time-wise and travel-distance-wise.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesCouturier View Post
Why would it hurt to ride your bike on too big of a gear? (i.e. riding a time trial event at 50rpm for example)
Why would it hurt to run a 10k with a longer stride than you should?
Yes, it's the obvious, but I don't think it applies here. The pull phase is not the problem for the shoulder, it's the EVF and catch, or entering the water while internally rotating the shoulder (thumbs first). So the problem might be a technical problem related to a too strong catch or something like that at faster rates. Which would mean the problem is related to the speed and not to the SPL - unless someone applies force in an adverse shoulder position only when swimming fast with a low SPL - and not when swimming fast with a high SPL.
You never know.
But I don't think the shoulder problem comes from applying too much 'pull' power at a fast rate with low SPL.
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  #15  
Old 11-27-2014
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haschu33 View Post
Yes, it's the obvious, but I don't think it applies here. The pull phase is not the problem for the shoulder, it's the EVF and catch, or entering the water while internally rotating the shoulder (thumbs first). So the problem might be a technical problem related to a too strong catch or something like that at faster rates. Which would mean the problem is related to the speed and not to the SPL - unless someone applies force in an adverse shoulder position only when swimming fast with a low SPL - and not when swimming fast with a high SPL.
You never know.
But I don't think the shoulder problem comes from applying too much 'pull' power at a fast rate with low SPL.
The key word to remember in this thread, is "too".

Could one use a rate/length balance which drifts "too much" toward the length side? I believe so.

Also, it's important to keep in mind that the 2 quotes to which you reply are general, and not restricted to possible health issues. For example, riding your bike using a development (gear ratio) which is "too" (again, this key word is important) big will not necessarily hurt anything. It will just make the resulting performance less than optimal.

My main fear, as far as my own athletes are concerned, isn't injury, it's performances. However, it's definitely possible to irritate articulations (shoulders, but also elbows) in "trying too much". The 2 technical issues that you mention which are often blamed for shoulder impingement are relatively easy to control. I understand both of them.
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  #16  
Old 11-27-2014
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesCouturier View Post

My main fear, as far as my own athletes are concerned, isn't injury, it's performances. However, it's definitely possible to irritate articulations (shoulders, but also elbows) in "trying too much". The 2 technical issues that you mention which are often blamed for shoulder impingement are relatively easy to control. I understand both of them.
Yes, sure, I understand your point.
What I wanted to say is that although that 'maintaining the same SPL' at higher rates does give you the idea of some underlying consistency in fact this is elusive: swimming with an SPL of 17 at a rate of 1.4 or swimming with an SPL of 17 at a rate of 0.7 means that you have to double the speed with which your arms move. And that is where (at least for me) all those pointers that are 'easy to control' are not so easy to control any more.
I still believe the problem is the rate and not the SPL. Again, I think we amateur swimmers tend to have problems with too high SPL at high stroke rates and not with too low SPL. Wish I had the choice to say 'do I want to swim a few 25m laps at 0.8 with an SPL of 15 or of 18 today?'
I absolutely agree with the point is the 'too'. But I doubt it that we really have a problem here with a SPL that is 'too' low - at high rates. It sounds slightly academic to me.

BTW I don't mean to offend you, on the contrary. I appreciate your posts.
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  #17  
Old 11-27-2014
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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No I don't try to pull from the end of the spear anymore. I try to leave the muscles of the stroking arm relaxed until the catch is in a good position.

To put that another way. If I want to 'cheat' my SPL I would start applying force the second a single finger nail is pointing towards the bottom of the pool.

If I wanted to avoid shoulder pain and hopefully sustain stroke integrity over a longer distance, I'll wait till I've got to my version of a 90deg bent elbow before turning on the power (probably nearer 130 in reality).


I've actually had 8 or 9 swims in the last 2 weeks

I'm doing a little 50m PB experiment. Trying to improve my fastest time over 2 lengths without resorting to the extreme muscle engagement mentioned above.

I put my tempo trainer on 0.28 and swim 3 beeps on my head down stroke and 4 beeps on my breathing stroke, so a very deliberate lope.

Another way of putting this is I'm stroking at 0.84 on my right arm and 1.12 on my left.

At this curious setting If I have a 2 stroke push off, hold 17 SPL and turn on 1 stroke I swim a length in precisely 70 beeps.

At a tempo setting of 0.28 this gives me a 50m time of 38.08 ((70*0.28)+(66*0.28)) which is as fast as I've ever swum 50m in the last 4 years.

The great part is it's very repeatable, I've been able to do one or two repeats each day this last week.

It's also improvable in small increments as all I need to do to take 0.28 off this time is sacrifice one or more of my 'lazy' breath strokes.

The longer glide on the breathing stroke holds my system in the aerobic zone, which in turn let's me maintain consistent stroke length over the whole 50, but as my sprint specific fitness improves I'll start to take back some of those extra beeps.

In Theory, with 8 breathing strokes per lap my 50m time has another 4.48 seconds to improve before I'm swimming with an even rhythm on both sides.

Once I get there I would repeat the entire process at 0.27 and so on.

I'll report how far I get before Xmas but it's already taken me out of a 2014 rut as I was stuck on 45s for 10 months before this latest intense session.

You've got to love the plateau.
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  #18  
Old 11-27-2014
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haschu33 View Post
Yes, sure, I understand your point.
What I wanted to say is that although that 'maintaining the same SPL' at higher rates does give you the idea of some underlying consistency in fact this is elusive: swimming with an SPL of 17 at a rate of 1.4 or swimming with an SPL of 17 at a rate of 0.7 means that you have to double the speed with which your arms move. And that is where (at least for me) all those pointers that are 'easy to control' are not so easy to control any more.
I still believe the problem is the rate and not the SPL. Again, I think we amateur swimmers tend to have problems with too high SPL at high stroke rates and not with too low SPL. Wish I had the choice to say 'do I want to swim a few 25m laps at 0.8 with an SPL of 15 or of 18 today?'
I absolutely agree with the point is the 'too'. But I doubt it that we really have a problem here with a SPL that is 'too' low - at high rates. It sounds slightly academic to me.

BTW I don't mean to offend you, on the contrary. I appreciate your posts.
No offense taken (never in fact). Sorry I tend to be straight to the point these days. I want to chat as much as I can but often have to cut short.

My comments (in this thread) apply to wanting to keep a low SPL at a higher rate. If SPL automatically raises as a result of increasing the rate, then the comments don't really apply.

At some point though, SPL stabilizes (of course, along with the technique). So much so that as I explained in the past, I don't really have to count my strokes to know how many strokes I did. If I flip on right arm, that's either 15 or 17. Both will feel very differently. If I flip on left, other than if it's the first length, it's always 16. Always. Because my stroke never fall apart to the point where it would become 18. And I never try hard enough to retain 14, as it doesn't make sense for me (too big of a gear).

Regardless of how I increase the rate, that DPS is rock solid and won't vary (sprinting in excess of 80rpm aside of course). So for me, 14 is too hard. It's not optimal. I can't swim my fastest at that. 15 would hold only if I'm incredibly fit. Orelse I'll loose it. And when you loose your DPS (compared to what was planned), then you're cooked. You slow down, and very often it's impossible to change this by increasing the rate.

Now this last piece wasn't discussed at all in this thread. But that's how things are for me. If I start at 16, with a rate which gives me the desired speed, and that I don't loose water along the event, the pace will be constant. If I start at 15, and start loosing water (DPS), then nothing I might do will change anything from the fact that I will slow down, and probably record a "miss". Maybe things are different with others, but for me that's how things have been.

What this means. Before beginning say, a 1500m time trial. I got to guess what SPL I will be able to hold, and begin at "that" SPL. If I'm too optimistic, crack. It's surely will be a miss.

Injuries will start to appear if I stubbornly train for keeping a DPS which is not healthy for me. With time (with a lot of time), pains will appear. In my case though, it's more the elbows that get injured.

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 11-27-2014 at 10:58 PM.
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  #19  
Old 11-27-2014
Danny Danny is offline
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Charles, I think I understand what you are saying, and, to a lesser extent (my stable SPL for 25 yd tends to be around 17) I think similar things hold for me. But here's the part I don't understand about myself: I can pick up the stroke rate and make the work easier by sacrificing DPS, even though I don't really understand what it is I am sacrificing to do this. Is it that I wait longer on the catch (as I think Andy may be saying)? Or is it that I pull my arm out of the water earlier at the back? Or is it some change on the stroke path? I don't know, and this bothers me. So, instead of trying to figure out my own problems, I am asking you if you know what it is precisely that you do when you decide to sacrifice DPS for stroke rate? Can you describe the process in detail?
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  #20  
Old 11-28-2014
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Yeah, it's about that. You know, it makes me feel very good to be able to discuss, almost 10 years after the same topic were discussed in the UK, about rate/length balance, without the whole thread burning in flames.

Because it is indeed a fascinating topic.

Swimming is a sport of glide, like speed skating, or x-country skiing. This is what makes it so fascinating. Whether some people like it or not, in the water, we do glide.

For instance, I think it's Maglischo (or could it be Toussaint?? I don't remember) who first proposed that the reason why your hand exit at the same spot where it entered (that is, there's no net loss of water) is that the same hand after entering glides forward, then pulls backward (again, whether some people like it or not), then exit. Net result is that it exists about the same place it enters.

If Rod is reading this and feels like correcting me I won't mind ;-)

Therefore my original statement in this discussion is a bit fallascious. Swimming can't directly be compared to running and cycling, none of which being a sport of glide. The similarity is strong enough to make the analogy legitimate though, I didn't cheat.

What some claim is that there should not be any dead spot in the way you pull. But that's fine. We're saying the same thing. While you set up for catch, you're not being "propulsive" with this phase. It's a setup phase. For TI, it's the skate phase. What triggers the war, is that in spite of clearly seeing no dead spot in Terry's stroke for instance, he still uses the word "glide" during the skate phase, which he sees as a phase during which you glide. Anyway... Let's not divert.

While you set up for catch, or stated otherwise, as long as you haven't taken a catch, you're not propulsive. Normally, the effective pulling range in freestyle can not be 180deg. During the non propulsive phase, what are you doing after all... You're gliding. Hopefully not wasting that time and rather setting up to be ready to pull when... when what?

When your body forward velocity drops below the target pace you wanna hold. In other words, gliding, i.e. not having taken a catch yet becomes a bad thing when you let your forward body velocity dropping too much. This is all obvious. I just want to make sure we move in our explanation one step at the time.

This is one area where "sacrificing" dps for more rate you may (and shoulld) cut. So hopefully, this feeling that things are easier now is because your limit the velocity variations. Because if you let the speed drop way too much, in order to achieve your target pace you got to achieve greater forward velocity within the cycle. In other words, you're slowing down, then needs to work harder, then slowing down too much, then need to work harder, than you would normally do if you kept constant pace.

And by the way, this is where I become (as a coach) compatible with TI. I am a firm believer that this work is not bad at all. It is not a bad thing in my opinion, to create this on purpose. For 2 reasons mainly:

1. Because it allows to focus quite a lot on balance/posture/streamline. This is cool, for certain people it's cooler. It is better for those who need it.

2. My favorite reason though...

By artificially slowing down, you increase the level of torque or force required in the pull through in order to achieve maximal avg velocity right?

AH AH. That's what I meant earlier by swimming is a sport of glide. By increasing the glide, you can artifically recreate a neuro-muscular specific load (and therefore adaptation) at much lower aerobic cost. You can do the same in cycling up a hill to some extend. But nothing beats swimming, speed skating etc for that. Swimming is hot to allow this feature. Because if your grip is good, you can possibly (or so I guess, I need Rod's equipement to figure this out), use the same force as you need to swim a flat out CSS 800m, but at much lower rate therefore at much lower metabolic/physiological cost.

Terry calls that neural programming I think, or neural training. I call this neuro muscular specific adaptation. But when you eliminate this and revert back to a smoother (and generally accepted or seen by most schools of thoughts as a sound) stroke, this is what you sacrifice. Whether you actively or passively glide or not, you're cutting there. You're reducing the velocity variation. You will need much less torque, thus easing the articulations a bit (and I don't really care if it gets someone injured or not, my main reason for being careful with this is that you perform less well).

There are 2 categories of muscles involved in swimming. Those you gets you forward. And those you help you keep a good technique to make the work of those you get you forward more efficient. The later tend to fatigue rapidly, if you're too ambitious with your DPS/Rate equilibrium.

Lastly maybe, after such a long explanation. The thing about maintenance. I stated once that a stroke which relies more on DPS may need more "practice" in order for an individual to be able to "hold" this dps. It may be easier to perform in a stable manner by not being too ambitious trying to pull too big of a gear.

Now all that said. You can chop at the back too. Most nowadays will tell you it's not a big deal... but not me ;-) In fact, in my humble opinion, in increasing the rate the feeling should be to more rapidly roll over a very smooth and easy skate/catch, enjoying how easy it is to pull yourself over (since you didn't waste time at the front), BUT still focusing on ensuring you have a nice efficient dynamic exit/snap. Because it is holding on to this phase that will allow you to keep healthy distance per stroke. Again, just be careful with the elbows....

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 11-28-2014 at 02:43 AM.
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