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  #1  
Old 02-08-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Tom Pamperin
Default Elbow question

Back here after being offline a while--thanks in advance for any thoughts.

I've been swimming about 4 days/week, averaging maybe 2000m per session. My default speed on 50m repeats seems to be right around :45 at 15-16 SPL right now, or 1:30 per 100m, and I'm working toward a goal of swimming a 500m in 7:30 to see if I can hold that pace efficiently.

My question: last week I started to feel a soreness/tightness in my right elbow, which seems like evidence that I'm doing something wrong. Most of the tightness seems focused on the top of the forearm muscle and lower biceps. When I lock out my elbow, flex my hand in push-up position, and rotate the forearm as far as I can in either direction, I seem to get a nice stretch that seems helpful to easing the tightness/soreness. Some of the tightness seems to creep up into the right shoulder as well.

This morning the tightness started coming back about 800m into my practice session. Another swimmer suggested I was using a nearly thumb-down entry so I swam a few more lengths really focusing on over-exaggerating the fingertips down instead--not sure if that helped as the tightness was already there.

Any thoughts about why this is happening, and what I might do to fix it?

I have been really focused on elbow lead recovery and widened my entry a few weeks ago (which seems to be working very well), but I can't think of any other changes in my stroke to account for the recurring elbow issues.

Thanks in advance for suggestions--I want to prioritize fixing this if I can find the underlying biomechanics problem here (assuming there is one).
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Old 02-09-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Tom,

just two thoughts:

- Are your hands really as relaxed as possible (fingers slightly seperated) while stroking?

- Are you swimming with an EVF or (too?) HEC and start with too much force while hand/arm is still in front (vertical above) of your shoulder?

Best regards,
Werner
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  #3  
Old 02-09-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WFEGb View Post
Hello Tom,

just two thoughts:

- Are your hands really as relaxed as possible (fingers slightly seperated) while stroking?

- Are you swimming with an EVF or (too?) HEC and start with too much force while hand/arm is still in front (vertical above) of your shoulder?

Best regards,
Werner
Werner,

thanks--my hands are very relaxed, I definitely don't feel any tension there.

On the other hand, I suspect your second thought about the catch position probably has something to do with it. I've really been trying to let my forearm get vertical before I begin the pull.

Curious, though, to only have this problem on my right side. I swam a very easy 1000m today, mostly 25m repeats, trying to really really feel what was going on. I asked a couple of training partners to watch and they didn't see any noticeable asymmetry.

One of them said it sounded like tennis elbow, which he gets from double poling forcefully while X-C skiing.

I may try to get a TI coach to do a stroke analysis for me--after posting some video here to see what people think, I suppose. That seems like a good next step.
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Old 02-09-2017
efdoucette efdoucette is offline
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Hey Tom, a good physiotherapist may help. They can analyze an injury and determine its root cause. I had tennis elbow last year (not swim related), no fun, stayed with me the better part of a year. But with explanation from a physiotherapist I learned what muscles / joints / tendons were affected and how to correct.
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  #5  
Old 02-09-2017
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Hey Tom,

Welcome back! PT can identify supporting areas of weakness that may need to be strengthened too.

Elbow pain can come from rotational forearm movement, i.e thumb in entry to thumb up at fwd extension, as well as unnecessary rotational (forearm and wrist) movements near hip at exit. Pick up a set of Finis Forearm Fulcums, $20 or so. These fuse knuckles, wrist and elbow as a single unit - any added movements in fingers, wrist, forearm - the fulcrum falls off whether high side recovery or low side arm: http://www.finisinc.com/Forearm-Fulc...y=1&alt_size=2

Good luck!

Stuart
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Old 02-09-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Thanks for all the replies and advice--I appreciate it.

Funny, almost my first thought was the Forearm Fulcrum as a check on what my forearms are actually doing. For $20 I can't see not giving that a try.

PT is another good suggestion. I definitely want to keep swimming, so will try to trace the root of the problem and see if it's related to biomechanics or muscle/flexibility imbalances somewhere.

A good reminder that it's probably time to re-start a yoga/flexibility routine to maintain whatever capabilities I still have!
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Old 02-09-2017
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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is it your breathing or non breathing side?
Do you still use your C shape pull style?

The start of your recovery technique could also lead to shoulder problems.
Tennis elbows could be caused by too much tricep loaded rear end pushing.
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Old 02-09-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zenturtle View Post
is it your breathing or non breathing side?
Do you still use your C shape pull style?

The start of your recovery technique could also lead to shoulder problems.
Tennis elbows could be caused by too much tricep loaded rear end pushing.
I'm not sure I really have a breathing/nonbreathing side anymore. I'm almost always breathing every 3. But in the old days this would be my breathing side (right). In the past few months I have been especially mindful of rotating my head back down immediately after breathing--I had been letting my head stay rotated too long, but now it's more of a habit to get the head right back down.

As for the C pull, I haven't seen video in a while. One of the things I've worked on in the past months is a wider recovery and entry, trying to keep my pull straight back--but without video, I don't know how successful I've been.

I haven't been conscious of pushing really hard on the back end, but maybe I am. I keep most of my awareness on my leading arm and on my recovery motion.

I'm swimming mostly at 15-16 SPL, which is the mid-low end of my green zone.

Anyway, maybe posting a video here again would be interesting. I'll see if I can make that happen.

FWIW, 90% of the elbow tightness goes away after an hour or two of not swimming, which seems consistent with tennis elbow/overuse. I may also be guilty of increasing my workload too quickly after a few months of not swimming. For the next while, I'll go easy and direct all of my attention to seeing if I can become aware of where this is originating.
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  #9  
Old 02-09-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Tom,

Quote:
Curious, though, to only have this problem on my right side.
Just another thought: Are you working with your right arm in any unusual way outside the pool. Maybe your right arm is overloaded from that and shows it while swimming symmetrically. (Like the Schwarzschild-effect in former photography. The time as we used analog films...)

Best regards,
Werner
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  #10  
Old 02-09-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Werner,

no doubt, I'm very right-hand dominant, so probably carry extra tension on that side. I'm a writer so spend lots of time typing, but use both hands for that. But I am certain my right arm/hand gets used much more in daily life, which is probably a factor.
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