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  #1  
Old 04-18-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Default question about a safe butterfly recovery

In the TI freestyle forum there has been an extensive discussion on the importance of recovering in the scapular plane. (one aspect of that discussion concerns just what is meant by this.) The idea is roughly to keep your elbow in front of the plane, parallel to your shoulders, which separates your front side from your back side during the entire recovery, because that helps to avoid shoulder impingement.

I am 66 yrs old and have just finished a month of physical therapy for an old injured shoulder (separation 25-30 yr. ago) because the shoulder started to hurt during my butterfly recovery. Once it started hurting, I stopped doing fly, and have only been doing freestyle since then, but the thought is that I am now ready to have another try at fly and see whether or not my shoulder can handle it. As I contemplate this, it occurs to me that the above advice about staying in the scapular plane is hard to follow in a fly recovery, especially if you pull your hands out down by your hips. One person has advised me that the solution is not to allow the pull phase to go down that low and to exit earlier so as to keep your arms in the scapular plane during the fly recovery.

I would be interested in thoughts on this subject. Is there some sort of consensus on the question? Is it possible to stay in the scapular plane during a fly recovery and, if so, how?

Thanks for your input
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Old 04-27-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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I've been playing around with this for a week now, so I thought an update might elicit some responses from someone. I have been trying to keep my arm stroke short, as originally planned, and the key thing has been to time it to my undulation. I am proceeding very slowly and carefully, because my main concern is not to re-injure my shoulder, and my technique is still in a state of evolution, but here are my preliminary findings.

I think that in my pre-injury fly I used to glide a fair amount in contrast to what I am now doing. Key in not injuring my shoulder is to let my shoulders rise up over my arms before exerting any force on the arms. To do this, I am using a much more active up-sweep in my dolphin kick, which shortens the period of my kick compared to what it was before. I think what happens is that this active up-sweep is in fact pushing my hips downward against the water, which then raises my shoulders in relation to my arms. As soon as my arms get in a safe position (in the scapular plane?) I can start my arm stroke without hurting my shoulder. As noted, the stroke is short, and it helps to go in up front with my arms wider apart, which means that the next down-kick will also come faster than in my old stroke.

In summary, my kicking frequency has increased to accomodate this stroke, but I have the sense that I am doing much more with my body and less with my arms, which is probably good for the shoulder.

Any thoughts, suggestions?
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Old 04-27-2016
descending descending is offline
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Hi Danny. As far as the consensus on not getting stuck down low/hips/out the back that is pretty standard teaching in a Masters environment for 2016. Back in my early days fly was a lot different. It was a one kick per stroke cycle approach with more glide and a longer pull. Too long. The big differences in today's fly vs. 30 years ago.

1. Catch early and finish that pull insweep at the latest by the chest. This is not where you want to translate TI's minimal stroke counting. Rhythm rhythm rhythm and the rest will take care of itself. If you get to where you are competent and rhythm kicks in it's ok to be aware of your stroke count, but don't make it some kind of goal. Remember you inherently have a lot more time to slow down with both arms in use at the same time where freestyle has alternating arms to keep propulsion up. Fly is about finding rhythm.

2. Kick your hands in and kick your hands out or close to that timing.

3. 'Chase' down the pool towards the wall or in other words less up and down, more forward.

With someone in your scenario and a bad shoulder I'd especially like to see you cutting your pull off a little early than even a fraction late. You will get the timing down with more and more practice, but will hopefully find that happy place where rhythm takes over. Fly isn't a muscle stroke it's a rhythm stroke. If it's feeling as if you are Atlas with the world on your back time to pull the plug and start over.
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Old 04-28-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Descending, thanks for your feedback. Someone once told me that it should be possible to do full stroke butterfly without significantly more effort than it takes to do body dolphin with your arms extended in front of you. I must admit that this was not the case with my former fly style. My goal for the new style is to first learn how to do full stroke without doing any work at all with my arms, just syncing them to the rest of the motion, in which case the effort should not be significantly different than body dolphin. This would hopefully provide a safe basis to work from with my bad shoulder. Anything I achieve beyond that is just icing on the cake for me right now.

Thanks again for your help.
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Old 04-28-2016
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post

I would be interested in thoughts on this subject. Is there some sort of consensus on the question? Is it possible to stay in the scapular plane during a fly recovery and, if so, how?

Thanks for your input

Have you watched any of Terry's / Total Immersions video instruction on Butterfly?

Butterfly was "my stroke" from the age of 8 to age 15. when I was around 40 I spent 30 minutes in the pool with Terry where he gave me 2 or 3 tips on butterlfy taht made it feel easier than ever...then again I took a coaches course from him in minneapolis and learned a full teaching sequence for it.

It all comes back to gravity & bouyancy just like in freestyle.

Not trying to "pull" through the water, but letting buoyancy bring you back to the surface and timing hand action to "help your head" to the surface relieves shoulder stress at the front of the stroke. Then simply "releasing" the water as soon as you feel pressure allows a recovery in time wiht the body rising before it falls back in.

As your speed increases, that pressure point occurs later and later in the stroke until you're doing a "full" stroke, but never really putting stress on the shoulder.

I went from swimming 75m continuous fly in a pool, being winded to 600m continuous fly in OW in less than than 2 weeks with Terry's help. (5 witnesses to the 600m fly at Lake Minnewaska)


Now, even after my car accident, when my neck or shoulder are hurting butterfly is easier than freestyle and way easier than backstroke which stresses both my neck and my shoulder .

Fly is now my goto relaxation stroke. Doesn't mean I'm swimming it quickly but I've never had anyone watch me swim fly and say, "Boy you're slow for a 47 year old"
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  #6  
Old 04-28-2016
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
Descending, thanks for your feedback. Someone once told me that it should be possible to do full stroke butterfly without significantly more effort than it takes to do body dolphin with your arms extended in front of you. I must admit that this was not the case with my former fly style. My goal for the new style is to first learn how to do full stroke without doing any work at all with my arms, just syncing them to the rest of the motion, in which case the effort should not be significantly different than body dolphin. This would hopefully provide a safe basis to work from with my bad shoulder. Anything I achieve beyond that is just icing on the cake for me right now.

Thanks again for your help.
Body dolphin is way harder for me. Like jogging wiht your hands in your pockets vs letting the arms swing...the latter is much easier.
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Coach of 4 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #7  
Old 04-28-2016
descending descending is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
Descending, thanks for your feedback. Someone once told me that it should be possible to do full stroke butterfly without significantly more effort than it takes to do body dolphin with your arms extended in front of you. I must admit that this was not the case with my former fly style. My goal for the new style is to first learn how to do full stroke without doing any work at all with my arms, just syncing them to the rest of the motion, in which case the effort should not be significantly different than body dolphin. This would hopefully provide a safe basis to work from with my bad shoulder. Anything I achieve beyond that is just icing on the cake for me right now.

Thanks again for your help.
Sure thing. Remember not to lift your head keep your chin low. Like freestyle the head position can ruin your body position and in fly that becomes a non-starter. As in difficult to even maintain a single stroke cycle. Do a little experiment with head lift for me if you don't mind. Stand up and put your head and neck in what you would consider a neutral aligned position and take the arms through a stroke cycle noting shoulder stress and mobility. Now take your head/neck out of alignment in a manner you'd consider excessive head lifting. Feel the difference in shoulder stress? You will be shocked how not difficult it is to keep your arms flowing once you consider pushing out the back a no no and get the head flowing with the body(not disconnected). Always try to keep in mind rhythm over 'grrrrrr'. Consistently I see women pick up fly faster than men and I'm not sure why, but my mind keeps going back to guys wanting to make it a 'look how strong I am!' move. Women listen to the instruction and just flow with the undulation. We are big dumb animals sometimes.

Last edited by descending : 04-28-2016 at 11:26 AM.
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  #8  
Old 04-28-2016
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by descending View Post
Sure thing. Remember not to lift your head keep your chin low. Like freestyle the head position can ruin your body position and in fly that becomes a non-starter. As in difficult to even maintain a single stroke cycle. Do a little experiment with head lift for me if you don't mind. Stand up and put your head and neck in what you would consider a neutral aligned position and take the arms through a stroke cycle noting shoulder stress and mobility. Now take your head/neck out of alignment in a manner you'd consider excessive head lifting. Feel the difference in shoulder stress? You will be shocked how not difficult it is to keep your arms flowing once you consider pushing out the back a no no and get the head flowing with the body(not disconnected). Always try to keep in mind rhythm over 'grrrrrr'. Consistently I see women pick up fly faster than men and I'm not sure why, but my mind keeps going back to guys wanting to make it a 'look how strong I am!' move. Women listen to the instruction and just flow with the undulation. We are big dumb animals sometimes.
I seethe same thing with women and rock climbing. The more a man wants to climb harder the more exhausted his arms get. Women typically let the idea of "pulling" go much faster and can access finesse much more quickly.

My 2nd day of rock climbing in college I out limbed a national champion gymnastic rings athlete. He wanted to pull up the whole climb and I just walked up.
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Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Coach of 4 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #9  
Old 04-28-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by descending View Post
Sure thing. Remember not to lift your head keep your chin low. Like freestyle the head position can ruin your body position and in fly that becomes a non-starter. As in difficult to even maintain a single stroke cycle. Do a little experiment with head lift for me if you don't mind. Stand up and put your head and neck in what you would consider a neutral aligned position and take the arms through a stroke cycle noting shoulder stress and mobility. Now take your head/neck out of alignment in a manner you'd consider excessive head lifting. Feel the difference in shoulder stress? You will be shocked how not difficult it is to keep your arms flowing once you consider pushing out the back a no no and get the head flowing with the body(not disconnected). Always try to keep in mind rhythm over 'grrrrrr'. Consistently I see women pick up fly faster than men and I'm not sure why, but my mind keeps going back to guys wanting to make it a 'look how strong I am!' move. Women listen to the instruction and just flow with the undulation. We are big dumb animals sometimes.
Descending, unfortunately I can't do the experiment you recommended above, because the weight of gravity on my bad shoulder makes it impossible for me to execute a butterfly recovery in standing position. When I am horizontal, things are very different, but you can see from this that I am in a delicate position. I have, however, taken your advice about head alignment to heart, especially when your head comes out of the water, and I agree with you entirely. The key to this for me is to time my down-kick to support my head as it comes out of the water. By doing this, I can maintain alignment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
Have you watched any of Terry's / Total Immersions video instruction on Butterfly?

It all comes back to gravity & bouyancy just like in freestyle.

Not trying to "pull" through the water, but letting buoyancy bring you back to the surface and timing hand action to "help your head" to the surface relieves shoulder stress at the front of the stroke. Then simply "releasing" the water as soon as you feel pressure allows a recovery in time wiht the body rising before it falls back in.
Suzanne, I did get Terry's DVD on butterfly some years ago, but had trouble with the technique he was advocating. As you say, he advocates letting buoyancy bring you back to the surface. In the meantime, I am finding that using the up-kick is an easier way to accomplish the same thing. By using the up-kick in a conscious manner, I am already well-positioned for the down-kick when my arms go in up front. I think my problem with buoyancy was that I forgot about the lower half of my body while waiting for my head to rise and, as a result, I was out of body position.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
Now, even after my car accident, when my neck or shoulder are hurting butterfly is easier than freestyle and way easier than backstroke which stresses both my neck and my shoulder .

Fly is now my goto relaxation stroke. Doesn't mean I'm swimming it quickly but I've never had anyone watch me swim fly and say, "Boy you're slow for a 47 year old"
I agree with both of you that it is all about timing. As a man, I concede that I have probably relied too much on upper body strength in the past. The old saying "To a hammer everything looks like a nail" applies here. Upper body strength used to be my advantage, whereas full body coordination was my "Plan B". Now, as my body slowly dissolves with time, Plan B has been elevated to my first priority. That said, the reason I love fly is because of the sense of rhythm I get from it. To me swimming both fly and freestyle are, at their best, like dancing; you just let the music carry you along. Anyway, knowing that it is possible to do fly in a relaxed fashion motivates me to keep working at it.
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  #10  
Old 04-29-2016
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Suzanne, I did get Terry's DVD on butterfly some years ago, but had trouble with the technique he was advocating. As you say, he advocates letting buoyancy bring you back to the surface. In the meantime, I am finding that using the up-kick is an easier way to accomplish the same thing. By using the up-kick in a conscious manner, I am already well-positioned for the down-kick when my arms go in up front. I think my problem with buoyancy was that I forgot about the lower half of my body while waiting for my head to rise and, as a result, I was out of body position.

Interesting, I'll have to take more note of the up-kick and how it relates specifically to recovery.

But when taking those clinics from Teryr like I mentioned, he let the legs hang low on purpose which actually can place them in a good position to gently kick the body into streamline as the recovery arms go in.

it's par to fthe learning progression to develop the timing, not necessarily how you'd approach full stroke.

if you let hte legs / hips sink, and gently le tthe knees bend, when you recovery thearms (early release, throw them forward) and gently kick the knees straight then the whole body arrives in streamline at once.

I'll play with your upkick...you play with my bent knee kick into streamline...and we'll meet back here to discuss.
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Coach of 4 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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