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  #1  
Old 10-04-2017
bx bx is offline
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Default Spine control

Is it possible to both flatten the lower lumbar arch slightly with a pelvic tuck, AND raise the sternum, which pushes the chest out, simultaneously?

Apart from Shinji, does anyone swim like this?
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Old 10-04-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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I need to ask you to clarify this somewhat. I might add that I play around with these issues in a search for good posture standing as well as swimming, especially because of arthritis in the lower back. What do you mean by "raise" the sternum? For me, the goal here is to stretch the spine into a vertical line and eliminate some of the unwanted curvature. Part of the process of "raising" the sternum may have to do with pulling your shoulders back if they slump forward, in which case both of these things can be done simultaneously, but you may be talking about something else.
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Old 10-04-2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bx View Post
Is it possible to both flatten the lower lumbar arch slightly with a pelvic tuck, AND raise the sternum, which pushes the chest out, simultaneously?

Apart from Shinji, does anyone swim like this?
Hi bx,

First yes lifting sternum and shift pelvis forward flattening arch in the back. Lifting sternum is not pushing chest out, it's just lifting sternum that lengthens spine and aligns shoulders. Often swimmers trapped behind a desk all day, shoulders begin to roll forward a bit. Lifting sternum, aligns the shoulder with the hips/ankles (taking out the hunched shoulders). This is good posture in the water and on land too. When horizontal in water visualize being pulled from your sternum.

Stu
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Old 10-04-2017
bx bx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
Hi bx,

First yes lifting sternum and shift pelvis forward flattening arch in the back. Lifting sternum is not pushing chest out, it's just lifting sternum that lengthens spine and aligns shoulders. Often swimmers trapped behind a desk all day, shoulders begin to roll forward a bit. Lifting sternum, aligns the shoulder with the hips/ankles (taking out the hunched shoulders). This is good posture in the water and on land too. When horizontal in water visualize being pulled from your sternum.

Stu
Hi Stu (can I be informal? :)

Thanks for the reply.

OK good, so this is an actual thing in swimming.

Indeed, lifting sternum isn't puffing out the chest on purpose, though I find it does that a bit anyway. It also flattens the back of the neck. I only came across this idea from the Freestyle Reimagined DVD, though it was never explained there.

Another swimming school says "swim proud", but I think this cue is less accurate than "lift sternum", as it connotes sticking the chest out and arching the back, IMHO.

The reason for my question is that once I've lifted my sternum, it become harder to flatten my lower back, especially in water. I guess it's just a muscle control issue.

Hope that clarifies things for Danny, too.

Ant (real name)
bx (login name)
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Old 10-04-2017
Janos Janos is offline
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I practice a similar technique, but base it on the 'hollow body' principle. A technique used by gymnasts. It really increases glide time.
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Old 10-04-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bx View Post
Hi Stu (can I be informal? :)

Thanks for the reply.

OK good, so this is an actual thing in swimming.

Indeed, lifting sternum isn't puffing out the chest on purpose, though I find it does that a bit anyway. It also flattens the back of the neck. I only came across this idea from the Freestyle Reimagined DVD, though it was never explained there.

Another swimming school says "swim proud", but I think this cue is less accurate than "lift sternum", as it connotes sticking the chest out and arching the back, IMHO.

The reason for my question is that once I've lifted my sternum, it become harder to flatten my lower back, especially in water. I guess it's just a muscle control issue.

Hope that clarifies things for Danny, too.

Ant (real name)
bx (login name)
Ant, I too had problems changing my pelvic tilt and simultaneously lifting my sternum. I think the best way to get a feel for this is to practice it in a standing position, not in the water. I focus first on changing my pelvic tilt. Then, holding the position of my pelvis, there are two addition next steps: bring my shoulders back (so they are not slumping forward) and bring my head back (so that it is aligned with my spine). You can also think of a string pulling on the top of your head to straighten out your spine as well. One check I do on all of this is that, if I have the correct position, I should also be able to breath diaphragmatically, that is, so that my stomach and not my chest is expanding as I breath.
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Old 10-04-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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Originally Posted by Janos View Post
I practice a similar technique, but base it on the 'hollow body' principle. A technique used by gymnasts. It really increases glide time.
the hollow body movement seems to me to be much more difficult than what you need to do in the water when swimming. This is because in the hollow body movement you are lying on your back and lifting your legs off the floor. As a result, in order to keep your lower back on the floor, you have to support the entire weight of your legs with your pelvic muscles and this takes some effort. In contrast, when swimming freestyle, the weight of your legs goes in the opposite direction and the work needed by your pelvic muscles is much less. So, while the hollow body movement can teach you what position you want to keep your pelvis in, you really don't need that kind of strength to do it while swimming.
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Old 10-04-2017
bx bx is offline
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It's all very interesting.

I don't want to harp on about Shinji's freestyle, but it's incredible how much his chest appears to be extended. He has said that he became very good a pressing his chest / buoy.

I must admit, although I've heard of hollow body, I hadn't come across the idea for swimming. As with other core control exercises, if you can do them on land, then they should be easier in water, although water is constantly pushing you around.

In terms of my own swimming, after a protracted "difficult years" period, now I swim very comfortably with a slightly ragged 2bk. But I'm always working on my swimming posture. I still don't have much glide, unless I really extend my chest and push down hard to lift my feet another couple of inches.
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Old 10-04-2017
sclim sclim is offline
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I find this very interesting. I thought I had quite good pelvic alignment standing and swimming. Then I saw Richard Quick's Posture Line Land Exercises video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V5PYspkknE

which I found very practical and useful, and so I practiced its instruction. But then in the past year my Tai Chi (or Taiji) teacher (Chinese Old School type) who while not having been particularly imprecise in the prior 6-7 years leading up to this, really started heavily emphasizing the pelvic posture in our advanced student's class. There is a lot of mysticism and extraneous explanation, but stripped of all this, essentially he exhorts pulling back on the Mingmen (roughly the spot in the spine at the level just below the belly button) which essentially is what Richard Quick is demonstrating (at about 2:20 and onwards) and pushing the tailbone forward underneath. If we do this completely, the space between the lower spine and the wall we are backed up on (standing) or the floor (lying on back, as in Richard Quick), completely disappears.

The Taiji approach seems to differ from the present discussion in that it doesn't call for the shoulders to be pulled back, but rather that they be rolled forwards. This may seem contradictory to the present discussion, but hold on a little. The Taiji approach also calls for the head to be pulled up to the ceiling in a straight vertical line in line with the line of the spine, which the present discussion seems to agree upon (Danny -- this feels exactly the same as your string on top of the head pulling to the ceiling). If the head is jutted forward too much, merely moving it backwards, while not changing the vertical plane of the face, fixes this.

I think this visualization of pulling up of the head in a vertical direction (which is what Richard Quick is also calling for) is much more useful for straightening the spine than the shoulders back instruction, which (now that I have experimented with the shoulders forward instruction) tends to reintroduce the pelvic forward tilt, and opening up that space again between the lower spine and the wall/floor, and which I find doesn't help getting the back any straighter than the lower back instruction and the head and neck on a string type of instruction if the latter two are done very precisely.

It took me a while to get comfortable with the shoulders forward instruction, and even now I'm not completely comfortable with it -- more shoulders neutral than fully forward, but definitely not shoulders back. And by focussing on getting the neck and head upright I thing the spine ends up more perfectly aligned than if the shoulders are called in to be a surrogate marker (my terminology) for the mid spine and chest. Anyway, by freeing up the shoulders from the spinal equation, not only do I think we get much more spinal alignment accuracy, but we allow more allowable range of shoulder motion, which I think would be a good thing.

P.S. I should have clarified that my view of what happens at the desk has been modified by my experience above -- it is not so much shoulders being slumped forward as much as head, and neck being thrust forward, so the thoracic and cervical spine get flexed forward. In this situation the shoulder blades are not necessarily slid forward on the posterior chest wall, although they may be, but they have nothing to do with where the head, chin and neck are. Fix where the head and neck are at, and it matters far less, if at all, what the shoulders are doing.

Last edited by sclim : 10-05-2017 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 10-05-2017
Janos Janos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
the hollow body movement seems to me to be much more difficult than what you need to do in the water when swimming. This is because in the hollow body movement you are lying on your back and lifting your legs off the floor. As a result, in order to keep your lower back on the floor, you have to support the entire weight of your legs with your pelvic muscles and this takes some effort. In contrast, when swimming freestyle, the weight of your legs goes in the opposite direction and the work needed by your pelvic muscles is much less. So, while the hollow body movement can teach you what position you want to keep your pelvis in, you really don't need that kind of strength to do it while swimming.
Danny, you only identify, and exercise the hollow body muscles lying down. The principle can then be applied to many different routines and sports, in fact it is essential to many.
Pelvic tilt or weakness will leave the legs trailing outside the optimal streamline position, and leave you unbalanced.
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