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Danny 02-16-2016 03:14 PM

idle thoughts while out of the pool with a cold
 
For the past number of days I haven't been swimming and have been lying in bed with a cold. The worst part of this is what it does to my core muscles, which seem to completely turn off and go to sleep from spending so much time in bed. I am cringing when I think about what this will do to my swimming when I get back in the pool. Has anyone got suggestions for how to re-activate the core muscles after too much time in bed? My first thought is mindful walking with special attention to posture, weight shifting and the timing of shoulder and leg recovery to maintain alignment. What? You don't spend your time thinking about these things when you walk? You don't know what your missing...

descending 02-16-2016 03:27 PM

If you have been utilizing spinal stabilizers doing 'life' then laying in bed isn't going to do a thing to them for a few days. If you are still learning how to apply them face down in water that is probably just more muscle memory than anything, but the overall capacity of the muscles to do work isn't going to evaporate from being down with a cold. My wife is a PT she spends a lot of time teaching people how to 'do life' with structural support re-learning. We were not meant to sit and be idle this is 1 of 1,000 reasons why desk jobs are silent killers. Literally.

s.sciame 02-16-2016 05:02 PM

Hi Danny, I couldn't swim for 1 month. When I got back to the pool I had lost mostly aerobic fitness and stroke rate, but fortunately they're coming back pretty quickly. Not in big trouble with core muscles.

Descending, what's 'doing life'?

Salvo

Danny 02-16-2016 05:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by descending (Post 57367)
If you have been utilizing spinal stabilizers doing 'life' then laying in bed isn't going to do a thing to them for a few days. If you are still learning how to apply them face down in water that is probably just more muscle memory than anything, but the overall capacity of the muscles to do work isn't going to evaporate from being down with a cold. My wife is a PT she spends a lot of time teaching people how to 'do life' with structural support re-learning. We were not meant to sit and be idle this is 1 of 1,000 reasons why desk jobs are silent killers. Literally.

Hi descending. I fully agree with you. This past year I just finished a month of PT because of arthritis in my hips, and the main message I got from this (and a lot of reading) is that I need to use a different set of muscles when I stand and walk. So I probably don't lose the condition of these muscles in such a short time, but I do lose the muscle control patterns. Which is why I spend so much time doing "mindful walking". Perhaps not surprisingly, I find that mindful walking helps me with the same issues in maintaining alignment when swimming. I don't think that the muscle patterns are identical in order to keep an aligned core in swimming and walking, but the feeling that everything is smooth, effortless and in sync when you do it is very similar. If I can sensitize myself to this feeling when walking, then it helps me to find it when swimming as well. Lying in bed wipes out my muscle memory for both, and that is what I am wringing my hands about right now :0)

Richardsk 02-16-2016 05:51 PM

Hi Danny

Early this year I had by first bad cold in years (one seems to become immune as one ages, but this bug sneaked through), and had to scratch from a two-day meet I was really looking forward to. I spent a lot of the time asleep but when I got back to the pool the damage didn't seem too bad.

I've now missed another big meet because I didn't get my entries in early enough. My first meet of the year looks like being in May and I've had to abandon the thought of swimming in the European Masters because the entries were all full after a day or so. There is much weeping and gnashing of teeth in the British Masters community as a result.

In the spirit of welcoming adversity I have returned to my quest to learn a legal butterfly and hope to enter the 100 and 200 IM in May. It's a short course meet so I have a chance. I managed it in 2012, I think.

You'll probably find that you get back into the swing quite rapidly.

descending 02-16-2016 05:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57371)
Hi descending. I fully agree with you. This past year I just finished a month of PT because of arthritis in my hips, and the main message I got from this (and a lot of reading) is that I need to use a different set of muscles when I stand and walk. So I probably don't lose the condition of these muscles in such a short time, but I do lose the muscle control patterns. Which is why I spend so much time doing "mindful walking". Perhaps not surprisingly, I find that mindful walking helps me with the same issues in maintaining alignment when swimming. I don't think that the muscle patterns are identical in order to keep an aligned core in swimming and walking, but the feeling that everything is smooth, effortless and in sync when you do it is very similar. If I can sensitize myself to this feeling when walking, then it helps me to find it when swimming as well. Lying in bed wipes out my muscle memory for both, and that is what I am wringing my hands about right now :0)

I honestly wouldn't worry about it too much if you are in tune with using these muscle groups for locomotion during the day that's well enough it will come back. There will come a time you don't have to think on it just go and it's there. I suppose I tend to forget those days since I have been swimming for so long, but if you are in the pool several days a week it's not going to up and leave you like a dog chasing a leaf.

CoachDavidShen 02-16-2016 07:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57366)
For the past number of days I haven't been swimming and have been lying in bed with a cold. The worst part of this is what it does to my core muscles, which seem to completely turn off and go to sleep from spending so much time in bed. I am cringing when I think about what this will do to my swimming when I get back in the pool. Has anyone got suggestions for how to re-activate the core muscles after too much time in bed? My first thought is mindful walking with special attention to posture, weight shifting and the timing of shoulder and leg recovery to maintain alignment. What? You don't spend your time thinking about these things when you walk? You don't know what your missing...

If you want to obsess more about walking, you should read What the Foot? By Gary Ward.

As for the core, lying down is the perfect time to practice your torso stabilization.

First learn how to diaphragmatically breathe. If you can't do that yet, then place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Try to take in air without moving the hand on chest at all. A cue is to push your belly up, moving the belly hand up.

The moment you can do this without the chest hand moving but only the belly hand, then stick your fingers under your rib cage in the fleshy part at your sides. Try to breathe in while pushing those fingers out.

Then put your hand under your low back on each side and try to feel pressure there, pushing down into your hands and bed, as you take each breath in.

If you can do those, then move to your pelvis. There are two bony joints called your ASIS joints. Press a finger or two into your flesh on the insides of your ASIS joints. Then take a breath in and attempt to push your fingers out. If you can do this, you will feel a tightening all around your lower torso. This is your inner core stabilizer muscles activating. Training this will improve your swimming a ton.

Danny 02-16-2016 08:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen (Post 57376)
If you want to obsess more about walking, you should read What the Foot? By Gary Ward.

As for the core, lying down is the perfect time to practice your torso stabilization.

First learn how to diaphragmatically breathe. If you can't do that yet, then place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Try to take in air without moving the hand on chest at all. A cue is to push your belly up, moving the belly hand up.

The moment you can do this without the chest hand moving but only the belly hand, then stick your fingers under your rib cage in the fleshy part at your sides. Try to breathe in while pushing those fingers out.

Then put your hand under your low back on each side and try to feel pressure there, pushing down into your hands and bed, as you take each breath in.

If you can do those, then move to your pelvis. There are two bony joints called your ASIS joints. Press a finger or two into your flesh on the insides of your ASIS joints. Then take a breath in and attempt to push your fingers out. If you can do this, you will feel a tightening all around your lower torso. This is your inner core stabilizer muscles activating. Training this will improve your swimming a ton.

Well, David, you have given me some motivation to stay in bed for another couple of days to practice! I have seen you describe this before, and it seems like a real adventure in anatomy exploration. I googled the ASIS joint and, as I understand it, the ASIS is the leafy like bone structure surrounding the hip, but where are the ASIS joints? This is where I get lost...

CoachDavidShen 02-16-2016 10:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57379)
Well, David, you have given me some motivation to stay in bed for another couple of days to practice! I have seen you describe this before, and it seems like a real adventure in anatomy exploration. I googled the ASIS joint and, as I understand it, the ASIS is the leafy like bone structure surrounding the hip, but where are the ASIS joints? This is where I get lost...

ha a lot of these can be practiced in bed, or lying on the ground. i do it every morning as part of morning routine, and before i work out to get good and equal activation of both sides (i had an unbalanced stability problem where my right side will develop pressure before the left - very bad depending on what you want to do).

this image shows the ASIS joints which are the bony protrusions in the front of your body at the front and top of your hips.

http://lilalotus.se/wp-content/uploa...ogaanatomy.png

this one locates it on a real human (ignore the hot guy comment):

http://images.slideplayer.com/21/625...es/slide_9.jpg

Above them you will feel just flesh of the lower torso, as well as to the inside of them. Stick your fingers into the flesh just to the inside of them and practice pushing them out while breathing.

Danny 02-16-2016 11:24 PM

David, with the guidance of your pictures, I followed your advice and it works, my fingers move! I was expecting this to be much harder. So what else should I practice in bed? :0)

descending 02-17-2016 10:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by s.sciame (Post 57370)
Hi Danny, I couldn't swim for 1 month. When I got back to the pool I had lost mostly aerobic fitness and stroke rate, but fortunately they're coming back pretty quickly. Not in big trouble with core muscles.

Descending, what's 'doing life'?

Salvo

Sorry didn't see this first time through. Doing life is simply normal daily activities and doing them with your deep spinals as the focus for things like walking, lifting etc. Ideally when sitting you shut these down b/c it can cause something loosely referred to as 'gripping' in the PT world. Not a technical term, but used to describe how people activate the little low back muscles when sitting improperly. Push back into the lumbar support and let the chair support you. It's a 2 edge sword. Desk hermits spend too much time with their deep spinal stabilizers 'off' so they can't 'do life' when it demands it. Or at least do it right.

Danny 02-17-2016 03:06 PM

Got back in the pool today for the first time since the cold. Canít say it was any worse than it was after a comparable layoff without being sick. Just before I got the cold, I had been trying to imprint a number of new sensations while swimming, which had to do with maintaining a straight line while rotating, keeping my balance forward as the recovery arm spears, coordinating the motion of the two shoulders during the whole process. Not sure if this has to do with my limited shoulder flexibility, but my sense is that, while it is important to keep a weightless forward arm during recovery, this does not mean that the forward shoulder is stationary. It also means that I am initiating my catch while the recovery is taking place on the other side. The only caveat is that no pressure should be exerted on the forward arm while it is moving into this catch position. Key in all of this is also coordinating both sides into one smooth motion, and this was largely gone today. I felt a little like someone who stopped reading a book a while ago, but didnít mark the page where he stopped. So I spent today paging through the book, trying to find where I was last time, and I may have found the chapter but not yet the page. Descending, I suspect that this process I am talking about happened in your swimming so long ago that it may sound entirely unfamiliar to you. This is the difference between juvenile and adult onset swimmers.
Thanks to everyone for your help and encouragement. David, now that I can activate my inner core stabilizers through diaphragmatic breathing, Iím not sure what the next step is. Should I be practicing activating them without the breathing? I sense that I use these muscles when walking, although I am unaware of using them while swimming. Or should I merely try to spend my life breathing diaphragmatically? Again, I am unaware of how I breathe when swimming, although I think I do tend to breathe diaphragmatically when walking.

CoachDavidShen 02-17-2016 04:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57391)
David, now that I can activate my inner core stabilizers through diaphragmatic breathing, Iím not sure what the next step is. Should I be practicing activating them without the breathing? I sense that I use these muscles when walking, although I am unaware of using them while swimming. Or should I merely try to spend my life breathing diaphragmatically? Again, I am unaware of how I breathe when swimming, although I think I do tend to breathe diaphragmatically when walking.

Good that you are at this point! Many do not make it here so feel good that you have gotten to this point.

The next steps are to get the same activation in different positions, adding in movement, practice not letting it go on the exhale, and to do it with a quicker breath in.

Some static positions to try:

1. sitting - sit with good posture - this is critical - good posture is required for good/maximal IAP generation. you can generate IAP if you are not aligned, but it will be as good, up the point at which it will be really hard to do it. with every breath, try to send pressure down all the way to the bottom of your butt (ie. pelvic floor). you can check also by sticking your fingers into the flesh inside of your ASIS joints. you can also check the sides, and low back too. if you have a chair with a back, you can often use the cushion behind you to feel for pressure increase upon a breath in.

2. standing - stand with good posture. repeat above.

Some movement to try:

1. sync the inhale breath with every step while walking. This usually entails walking fairly slowly, or breathing more quickly.

2. sync the inhale with only one side's step, exhale on the other step while walking for a while. then switch to the other side.

3. sync the inhale with one side's step, then exhale for 2 steps, the inhale on the 3rd step (which is effectively now alternating sides with inhale).

4. dead bug lower body - lie on your back. bring both knees up to 90 deg. practice a few breaths with fingers pressing inside of ASIS joints. Feel alsoo the low back flesh press against the ground. then:

a. try lifting both feet off the ground. did you low back lose contact with the floor? if not, master this not by squeezing the torso muscles tight, but by using breath to press strongly down into the pelvic bowl.

b. if you can do a, then try this. lift both feet up where you are 90 deg at hip, 90 deg at knee. then while maintaining IAP and low back thus touching the floor, try to extend one leg to straight. can you maintain your low back touching the floor? also stop if you hear/feel a click in your hip. this is a sign that your IAP is letting go. bring knee back to 90, then put both feet on the floor. repeat.

quicker breath:

1. whenever you practice, try to take a quick breath in via your nose and quickly generate pressure low into our pelvic floor. if you can do this, then practice with your mouth open which is more like what happens during swimming.

not letting IAP go:

1. one thing that can happen with meditative breath practice is that we get used to taking air in, and then letting it all out, thereby releasing also IAP. this is OK for this type of practice as much of it learning how to relax with breath. however, letting it go completely isn't necessarily optimal for physical performance.

for short periods of time, try taking an inhale and generating pressure, then on the exhale, try to not release the pressure you feel below. in the beginning, this may be simply, take a breath in, but don't let all the air out. you can try taking an inhale, and then a quick puff out and don't fully push all air out, but then go to inhale right after. Repeat.

some swim practice:

Use SG to start. then Skate, then one stroke. and so on.

1. take a good IAP breath in. Then squat down in prep for SG and stand back up. did you lose it when you squat down? practice to not lose it on the squat - any movement can cause you to lose IAP if you are not used to creating/maintaing it.

2. if you can do 1, then try maintaining IAP while pushing off into SG. did you do it?

3. if you can do 2., then try IAP pushing off into SG, and then Skate. did the rotation into Skate cause you to lose IAP?

give these a try and report back!

Danny 02-17-2016 06:05 PM

David,

Thanks for all of these details. What I still don't think I understand is how all of this will help my swim technique. Is it supposed to give me a stiffer core, so that hip rotation gets generated more quickly to the shoulders and vice versa? If this is the case, are the core stabilizers supposed to be active during the entire time while swimming or only when rotation takes place? (I suppose one might argue that rotation should never really stop; it only speeds up during the kick and spear and slows down otherwise...) Should the core stabilization be coordinated with breathing when swimming? If so, why? In summary, I don't yet understand the role this is supposed to play in my swim technique.

Danny 02-17-2016 06:16 PM

One last question: David talks about core stabilization and seems to be referring to muscles in the pelvic region, whereas descending refers to deep spinals. What is the relationship between these two? Is controlling both necessary? Why does David focus on the one whereas descending on the other?

CoachDavidShen 02-18-2016 03:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57395)
David,

Thanks for all of these details. What I still don't think I understand is how all of this will help my swim technique. Is it supposed to give me a stiffer core, so that hip rotation gets generated more quickly to the shoulders and vice versa? If this is the case, are the core stabilizers supposed to be active during the entire time while swimming or only when rotation takes place? (I suppose one might argue that rotation should never really stop; it only speeds up during the kick and spear and slows down otherwise...) Should the core stabilization be coordinated with breathing when swimming? If so, why? In summary, I don't yet understand the role this is supposed to play in my swim technique.

Torso stabilization is required to effectively and efficiently transfer energy from your foot through/across the torso and out the spear. It is required to create a stable, stiff, firm body on which to stroke from so that all energy is directed towards propulsion and not lost within a soft unstablized body. imagine pushing a pencil across a table versus pushing a wet noodle. same principle. you want to create a pencil with your body, and not be a wet noodle where pushing it requires a lot more effort to move it.

tension to stabilize varies with the task. during the glide phase where you recovering, you don't require as much tension to stabilize as when you are attempting to rotate/launch spear/catch/pull back. so tension goes up when you want to move and goes down when you are not rotating.

so in answer to your comment above, there are moments when rotation has stopped. These are mostly during glide phase when recovery is happening. You don't want to be rotating or falling into the water. You want to wait until your hand has recovered to the entry position. This is why we practice balancing with an angled body in Skate. It mimics the glide phase during recovery where you need to be motionless, skating on your side with angled body.

the whole goal of the training i describe is to first make IAP generation conscious, and then over time make it reflexive and unconscious. This is not unlike typical TI focal point training. At first we make a conscious effort to focus on a particular swim habit. We do it enough and then it becomes habit and we just imprinted it so that we just do it that way and we don't have to think about it.

the training of fast creation of IAP on quick breath will help with that. you want to be able to reflexively generate IAP on demand with an inhale helping. don't worry - like TI training you will get it with time and diligent practice.

in the beginning of training, it is easiest to train for coordination of breath with IAP generation. later, you will still use breath, but you will also have some reflexive IAP generation capability to call upon even if you are taking in a breath. it's just easier and clearer that when you take a breath, the diaphragm descends and creates pressure, along with activation of all deep stabilizers like the transverse abdominis. however you should renew IAP every time you take a breath to give your muscles a break.

Whenever you do physical activity, you should require IAP if you are doing it properly. otherwise, you will be hanging on your muscles, joints and bones. you may be able to survive some length of time of activity, but you will be risking injury every time you go out there. eventually muscles will tire, joints will get worn down, bones will also get worn. you will damage yourself if you progressively add load that overpowers your body muscle/joint/bone's ability to recover from it. Proper stabilization also activates the correct muscles for activity; improper stabilization causes compensations and using muscles that weren't designed for that. it will wear them out and injury can occur.

There are now stories of Crossfit athletes whose spinal Xrays are showing wearing down of their spinal segments. This is because they are stabilizing via spinal extension and locking their segments together. Yes you can stabilize like this. Yes it can be very stable. but constant heavy loads at high speeds literally ground their segments down. this is not good. if they were stabilizing via IAP, this would not have happened.

onwards to the next reply...

CoachDavidShen 02-18-2016 03:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57396)
One last question: David talks about core stabilization and seems to be referring to muscles in the pelvic region, whereas descending refers to deep spinals. What is the relationship between these two? Is controlling both necessary? Why does David focus on the one whereas descending on the other?

i actually didn't talk about muscles. i purposely kept muscles out of it and only wanted you to get the feeling of quickening/tightening down below.

the diaphragm is connected to a series of muscles all in that region. its descent upon inhale causes activation of all of them to stabilize the lower torso. it is deep torso stabilizers that you want to activate and not the primary movers. so yes you can squeeze your rectus abdominis (6 pack muscles) and stabilize, but it is not efficient or optimal. they are not designed for the demands of constant stabilization - they will wipe out if you try to contract them for long periods of time. you will find that the deep torso stabilizers (and spinal stabilizers) will activate with inhale and IAP reflexively on demand over and over again seemlngly without fatigue.

so to know that you've activated the entire region, i like to test that by sticking your fingers in your flesh at your sides, low back, and inside of your ASIS joints. pushing your fingers out at those points gives you feedback that you are generating IAP properly and in all directions and areas, all the way down to the bottom of your pelvic bowl.

Danny 02-18-2016 05:34 PM

David,
Thanks for your very detailed replies to both of my questions above. The approach you have outlined above seems like it might take a significant amount of time and mental effort, and for this reason I find the prospect somewhat overwhelming. In situations like this I often try to do some occasional experimentation to see how much of an impact this could have on my swimming and also how much of my focus is required in order to do it. Over time, I may become more convinced that it is important and it may also become easier to do.
I have the impression that I am already breathing diaphragmatically when I walk, and I can feel the activation of these muscles in the process. But that is new and arose out of my attempts to relearn standing and walking because of arthritis in the hips and lower back. In this situation, one key (which I learned in PT) was to activate my butt muscles as a way to stabilize my hip joints, but this was only one piece of the puzzle. I had to also learn to keep my shoulders back and control my head position (no chicken neck). And finally balance plays a key role. When I do all of this, diaphragmatic breathing almost occurs naturally, but it is almost impossible for me without these prerequisites. So this is a chicken-and-egg question: focus generally on the diaphragmatic breathing or focus on the prerequisites needed to make this breathing easier to attain. In swimming, I am not sure what these prerequisites might be, but it is certainly worth some experimentation to try to figure this out. Sometimes what you have learned in one activity (walking) can help provide you with an entry door to apply it elsewhere (swimming) even if the prerequisites are somewhat different.
Iíll let you know how it goes!

CoachDavidShen 02-18-2016 06:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57408)
David,
Thanks for your very detailed replies to both of my questions above. The approach you have outlined above seems like it might take a significant amount of time and mental effort, and for this reason I find the prospect somewhat overwhelming. In situations like this I often try to do some occasional experimentation to see how much of an impact this could have on my swimming and also how much of my focus is required in order to do it.

I would counsel patience. just like learning to swim with TI, it can take what seems to be a very long time.

you've lived in your body like this for decades. it takes time, effort, and patience to change a habit that has been around for so long. this is why i present a progression so that it won't seem so overwhelming and you can take it one step at a time. diligent, consistent practice every day will change things quicker.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57408)
Over time, I may become more convinced that it is important and it may also become easier to do.

I wrote a blog post on why you want to d-breathe. it has implications far beyond just torso stabilization:

http://www.dshen.com/blogs/training/...breathing.html


Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57408)
I have the impression that I am already breathing diaphragmatically when I walk, and I can feel the activation of these muscles in the process. But that is new and arose out of my attempts to relearn standing and walking because of arthritis in the hips and lower back. In this situation, one key (which I learned in PT) was to activate my butt muscles as a way to stabilize my hip joints, but this was only one piece of the puzzle. I had to also learn to keep my shoulders back and control my head position (no chicken neck). And finally balance plays a key role. When I do all of this, diaphragmatic breathing almost occurs naturally, but it is almost impossible for me without these prerequisites.

already you are discovering that proper alignment of the head/neck/spine/pelvis/legs is creating huge benefits. d-breathing and IAP is easiest when you have full alignment. it can seem very difficult if you try it in other positions, like if you were arched over or over extended. but they go hand in hand. good d-breathing is instrumental in good postural control (see my blog post) so it encourages good alignment, which also means good alignment makes it easiest to d-breathe and generate IAP.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57408)
So this is a chicken-and-egg question: focus generally on the diaphragmatic breathing or focus on the prerequisites needed to make this breathing easier to attain.

this is why people start out lying on the ground. it is a situation where alignment is somewhat controlled and encouraged already. the moment you can do it lying on your back, then try sitting and standing. these are positions where alignment can be challenged because depending on your current posture, you may need to exert effort to bring yourself back to alignment. but d-breathing w/ IAP will encourage that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57408)
In swimming, I am not sure what these prerequisites might be, but it is certainly worth some experimentation to try to figure this out. Sometimes what you have learned in one activity (walking) can help provide you with an entry door to apply it elsewhere (swimming) even if the prerequisites are somewhat different.
Iíll let you know how it goes!

we spend way more time on dryland than in the water. so starting with 23/7 focus (with 1 hour in the pool!) will be a good thing and affect your ability to align in the water. if you can't align on dryland, then how will you do it in the water?

Danny 02-18-2016 09:29 PM

David,

You are right that I spend more time walking than swimming, and I have been paying a little more attention to this while walking today. Here is what I find. I tend to inhale for two leg steps (right,left) and then exhale for another two. When I exhale, I seem to keep these stabilizers activated by exhaling with my mid-section (below my ribs, but above my pelvis) by leaving my pelvic part (where these muscles are) "expanded". Does this perception make sense? It would seem to imply that the price of stabilizing your torso is to breath with less than your full capacity.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

CoachDavidShen 02-18-2016 11:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57411)
David,

You are right that I spend more time walking than swimming, and I have been paying a little more attention to this while walking today. Here is what I find. I tend to inhale for two leg steps (right,left) and then exhale for another two. When I exhale, I seem to keep these stabilizers activated by exhaling with my mid-section (below my ribs, but above my pelvis) by leaving my pelvic part (where these muscles are) "expanded". Does this perception make sense? It would seem to imply that the price of stabilizing your torso is to breath with less than your full capacity.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

yes one way to maintain IAP is to not let your air completely out on an exhale. thus some pressure is retained. that is why in my prorgression, i talk about not letting all your air out and practicing retention of IAP with that technique.

Danny 02-19-2016 01:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen (Post 57412)
yes one way to maintain IAP is to not let your air completely out on an exhale. thus some pressure is retained. that is why in my prorgression, i talk about not letting all your air out and practicing retention of IAP with that technique.

I don't need a lot of oxygen when I walk, but if I am pushing the tempo when I swim, I might. Is this a disadvangtage of this method, or can one learn to hold the abdominal tension even when one exhales down to the pelvic region? If so, how?

CoachDavidShen 02-19-2016 03:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57414)
I don't need a lot of oxygen when I walk, but if I am pushing the tempo when I swim, I might. Is this a disadvangtage of this method, or can one learn to hold the abdominal tension even when one exhales down to the pelvic region? If so, how?

if you think about it, you aren't breathing between breaths. ideally you aren't blowing out your air. you may be letting it dribble out, or you may hold it (i tend to hold it). you only blow it out right before you turn to air.

so holding most of that air until moments before you take a breath allows you to use the air to maintain IAP between breaths.

when you actually take a breath, there is minimal time between blowing it out and taking the inhale, and you should be renewing IAP on the inhale. when you blow it out during a swimming breath, i doubt that you can fully empty your lungs - if were to do that, i bet you'd expend a ton of excess energy trying to do it. it's not necessary, and therefore there likely is some air left in your lungs to aid in maintaining IAP.

i also believe you can train yourself to reflexively generate IAP when you call upon the body for movement, somewhat independent of needing a breath. in the case of swimming, you aren't needing so much IAP like you're about to lift a ton of weight. you just need to hold enough IAP to hold body shape to perform the movement.

the problem i see in swimmers, and especially with TI swimmers, is that they take the focal point of "relax" during swimming too far. mostly, that cue applies to people who are not comfortable with the water and hold a ton of nervous tension when in it. or work too hard at trying to swim where they are trying to use too much tension and energy. so for those that relax too much, they become the wet noodle. this is TOO much relaxation. so we have to bring their level of tension back up so that they can swim more effectively. the minimum level of IAP generated will create sufficient stiffness in your torso so that you can swim, but you don't need so much that you're going to lift a heavy rock off the ground.

jenson1a 02-19-2016 09:41 AM

Coach Dave and Danny

DAnny thanks for posting so many detailed questions. Coach Dave has addressed this iap and diaphragm breathing in another thread, but this goes so much more in detail. You are a whole lot more analytical than I am.

Coach Dave--I have printed your blog on optimal breathing and also parts of this thread to incorporate into not only swim practice, but dryland also. The goal is to promote better swimming, but I realize that any accomplishment in this area is bound to lead to better health.

Thanks to both of you

Sherry

Danny 02-19-2016 04:18 PM

David,

Thanks for all of the detailed information in response to my questions. I will let you know if/when other questions arise. I appreciate your help!

CoachBobM 02-20-2016 04:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57366)
For the past number of days I haven't been swimming and have been lying in bed with a cold. The worst part of this is what it does to my core muscles, which seem to completely turn off and go to sleep from spending so much time in bed. I am cringing when I think about what this will do to my swimming when I get back in the pool. Has anyone got suggestions for how to re-activate the core muscles after too much time in bed? My first thought is mindful walking with special attention to posture, weight shifting and the timing of shoulder and leg recovery to maintain alignment. What? You don't spend your time thinking about these things when you walk? You don't know what your missing...

In addition to the other suggestions people have made, I'll pass along the following:

In chapter 8 of his book The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, M.D. tells of a study done by Drs. Guang Yue and Kelly Cole which compared two groups of subjects. The first group exercised a finger muscle, Monday through Friday, for 4 weeks, doing trials of 15 maximal contractions with a 20 second rest between each. The second group followed the same program, but only imagined doing the 15 maximal contractions with a 20 second rest between each, while also imagining a voice shouting at them, "Harder! Harder! Harder!" The first group increased their muscular strength by 30%, while the second group improved their muscular strength by 22%. The conclusion was that part of the gain in muscular strength in the first group was actually occurring because the neurons responsible for the movements were being activated and strengthened, and that this was also occurring in the second group, in which the subjects only imagined making the movements (G. Yue and K.J. Cole, 1992, "Strength increases from the motor program: Comparison of training with maximal voluntary and imagined muscle contractions" Journal of Neurophysiology, 67(5): 1114-23).

So you might be able to slow your rate of decline during an illness, in some degree, by imagining that you are swimming!


Bob McAdams

jenson1a 02-20-2016 09:33 AM

Wow I would have thought that the difference in percentages (30 to 22) would have been a whole lot larger than 8%.

Sherry

Danny 02-20-2016 02:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachBobM (Post 57424)
In addition to the other suggestions people have made, I'll pass along the following:

In chapter 8 of his book The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, M.D. tells of a study done by Drs. Guang Yue and Kelly Cole which compared two groups of subjects. The first group exercised a finger muscle, Monday through Friday, for 4 weeks, doing trials of 15 maximal contractions with a 20 second rest between each. The second group followed the same program, but only imagined doing the 15 maximal contractions with a 20 second rest between each, while also imagining a voice shouting at them, "Harder! Harder! Harder!" The first group increased their muscular strength by 30%, while the second group improved their muscular strength by 22%. The conclusion was that part of the gain in muscular strength in the first group was actually occurring because the neurons responsible for the movements were being activated and strengthened, and that this was also occurring in the second group, in which the subjects only imagined making the movements (G. Yue and K.J. Cole, 1992, "Strength increases from the motor program: Comparison of training with maximal voluntary and imagined muscle contractions" Journal of Neurophysiology, 67(5): 1114-23).

So you might be able to slow your rate of decline during an illness, in some degree, by imagining that you are swimming!


Bob McAdams

Bob,

that's an interesting story. Unfortunately in my case, I suspect I may already be topped out in the fantasy swimming department. The symptoms for this include the fact that I spend so much time on this forum :o). If time squandered thinking about swimming technique was the prime factor in how well one swims, I would have been in the elite category a long time ago.

Oh well, we all have to build on whatever strengths we have....

Danny 02-20-2016 04:46 PM

David,

One more question. It seems to me that in order to activate the stabilizers in the pelvic region, one must also activate the butt muscles (the gluteus?), which control the position of your pelvis, because these are the muscles that "push back" against the stabilizers. When you lie on the floor, the floor can play this role, but when standing, the butt muscles are needed to do this. Do you agree with this? These butt muscles play a critical role for me, because they are also needed to stabilize my hip joints. My personal experience is that the hard part of this may be learning to activate these butt muscles, and once this is accomplished, the d-breathing is not so hard to learn.

CoachBobM 02-20-2016 09:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57433)
Bob,

that's an interesting story. Unfortunately in my case, I suspect I may already be topped out in the fantasy swimming department. The symptoms for this include the fact that I spend so much time on this forum :o). If time squandered thinking about swimming technique was the prime factor in how well one swims, I would have been in the elite category a long time ago.

Oh well, we all have to build on whatever strengths we have....

Well, keep in mind that the subjects in the study didn't just think about the finger exercises - they actually imagined that they were doing them. The equivalent for swimming would be to imagine that you're actually swimming. (Perhaps the equivalent of imagining a voice saying "Harder! Harder! Harder!" would be the sound of a Tempo Trainer signaling when to stroke?)


Bob

Danny 02-20-2016 09:58 PM

Bob,

A couple of years ago, when I was sick with a fever, I remember dreaming that I was swimming freestyle down a long hall in the air. When I wasn't focused on keeping my weight forward, my legs would start to drag on the floor. When I shifted my weight forward, my whole body would rise so that I was swimming close to the ceiling. Does that meet your standards for imaginary swimming?

As good as that dream was, my swim today was even better! Towards the end of the swim, I felt like I had my timing down so that my body axis wasn't moving at all as I rotated. As a result, I needed much less energy in my kick to keep the rotation going, and the whole thing felt wonderful. I wish every day in the pool could feel that good!

CoachDavidShen 02-21-2016 03:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57438)
David,

One more question. It seems to me that in order to activate the stabilizers in the pelvic region, one must also activate the butt muscles (the gluteus?), which control the position of your pelvis, because these are the muscles that "push back" against the stabilizers. When you lie on the floor, the floor can play this role, but when standing, the butt muscles are needed to do this. Do you agree with this? These butt muscles play a critical role for me, because they are also needed to stabilize my hip joints. My personal experience is that the hard part of this may be learning to activate these butt muscles, and once this is accomplished, the d-breathing is not so hard to learn.

First, part of the answer lies in the fact that everything is connected. The nervous system links everything together and every muscle/joint/bone has a role.

If that is true, then the glutes play a role as does every muscle in the system.

In terms of pure torso stabilization, the glutes are not involved:

A number of studies document coordinated synergy of the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor and the multifidus muscles during postural activity ( Hodges & Gandevia 2000b ).

Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders, pg. 17

Note that the diaphragm is connected to more parts of the body than we realize:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731110/

Glutes *can* be involved because they are involved in hip extension. The muscles they oppose are the hip flexors: psoas, rectus femoris, as well as a bunch of other muscles in that region. If the hip flexors get short and tight, this can inhibit the glutes. Sitting doesn't help. That position lengthens and turns off the glutes and puts the hip flexors in a shortened position.

The psoas is attached to the lumbar spine in part. If the psoas gets short and tight, it can drag your lumbar spine into extension as you try to straighten up. Without the glutes proper function to release the psoas, you will have a hard time straightening up to a neutral spine.

In swimmers I often see when they swim, they are swimming with flexion at the hips. Without the ground to brace against, they are literally swimming in a sitting shape. They need proper function at the hip to straighten out there.

When you lay down, gravity assists you to get to neutral spine. However, for some, even extending the legs is not possible because their psoas is so short and tight that it drags the lumbar spine up from the ground. So we start with knees up and then they can get to neutral spine.

The glutes along with the hamstrings can pull your pelvis in the posterior tilt direction. But is your pelvis position problematic and in which direction? Note that squeezing the glutes is a conscious act and some glutes are primary movers whose function isn't basic stabilization although they definitely could be used that way. It just means that they aren't designed for it and you could wipe them out by contracting them all the time.

It would be better to practice IAP generation to get the correct activation of torso stabilizers. This in turn should help the hip flexors and extensors function properly. You can speed things up by stretching the hip flexors and doing exercises that stimulate the posterior chain of hamstrings/glutes and muscles all the way up your back. Also not sitting so much and moving more around will help.

Does this help? You asked a fairly complex question despite its simple presentation...

Danny 02-21-2016 06:24 PM

This Message Is Reproduced Below

Danny 02-21-2016 06:35 PM

This Message Is Reproduced Below

Danny 02-21-2016 06:39 PM

PLEASE IGNORE THE PREVIOUS POST, SOMEHOW MY TYPING GOT MESSED UP AND IT IS ALL REPRODUCED CORRECTLY HERE.


David,

Thanks again for your detailed answers. I fear that this thread may be veering a little of topic (although maybe not), but I am reluctant to pass up the opportunity to pick your brains on these anatomical subjects.

First of all, it may help to acknowledge that d-breathing is not a complete solution to all problems. I am not sure to what extent it is playing a role in my hip and lower back issues, but some of the things you mentioned may point to other issues as well. I read somewhere that the lower spine should tilt up a little like a candy cane when standing properly, and as soon as I started focusing on this my lower back issues greatly improved. Your comments below indicate that I might have a tight psoas, which is why I need the glutes to counteract this. The pulling of my lumber spine forward when I slouch in my chair while working is a prime suspect as cause for this. So I have been working on these issues and it affords me a much greater level of comfort when walking and standing. Especially in the morning just after I get up, bending over can be an issue and paying attention to these things helps there too.

Should I be trying to stretch out my psoas and if so how?

Right now I focus on doing these things consciously. I don't know whether or not my glutes can maintain this level of work indefinitely, but they certainly suffice to walk comfortably 6-8 miles.

As for swimming, my focus is more on maintaining a level position in the water, and my head and upper body position seem to play the biggest role in doing this. During swim rotation, the hips rotate, not only up and down, but also forward (as you reach with the spear) and back (as your recovering hand comes out of the water). If this motion is not coupled smoothly with the shoulder and spear, there is a Kachunk, Kachunk feeling in the rotation. When the timing of all of these things are well tuned to each other, it feels as if my spine is remaining motionless and the rotation is occurring around it smoothly and without disturbing the position of my body axis. This is what I aim at. It may be that d-breathing plays an important role in all of this, but my sense at this point is that the timing of my shoulders and hips are the low hanging fruit in this optimization problem for me, at least right now.

Thanks again for your willingness to go after these issues with me.

CoachDavidShen 02-21-2016 11:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57465)
PLEASE IGNORE THE PREVIOUS POST, SOMEHOW MY TYPING GOT MESSED UP AND IT IS ALL REPRODUCED CORRECTLY HERE.


David,

Thanks again for your detailed answers. I fear that this thread may be veering a little of topic (although maybe not), but I am reluctant to pass up the opportunity to pick your brains on these anatomical subjects.

First of all, it may help to acknowledge that d-breathing is not a complete solution to all problems. I am not sure to what extent it is playing a role in my hip and lower back issues, but some of the things you mentioned may point to other issues as well. I read somewhere that the lower spine should tilt up a little like a candy cane when standing properly, and as soon as I started focusing on this my lower back issues greatly improved. Your comments below indicate that I might have a tight psoas, which is why I need the glutes to counteract this. The pulling of my lumber spine forward when I slouch in my chair while working is a prime suspect as cause for this. So I have been working on these issues and it affords me a much greater level of comfort when walking and standing. Especially in the morning just after I get up, bending over can be an issue and paying attention to these things helps there too.

it is hard to believe that breathing plays such a huge role. but over these last few years, i've seen it being instrumental in creating many different problems down the line. when you don't stabilize via breath->d-breathing, you compensate with other muscles. this leads to tightness, fatigue, and potentially injury if you keep doing things inefficiently.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57465)
Should I be trying to stretch out my psoas and if so how?

Since you like squeezing your glutes, try this stretch in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-mBaHx6Gn4

Go to about 1:23 and look at that stretch. You don't need a band but a band will make the stretch more effective. This variant has the leg extended along the ground which will take the pressure off your back knee.

Fine Points:

1. You must squeeze the glute of the rear leg. This will cause a neurological lengthening of the hip flexor. If you are merely stretching without squeezing the back glute, you will be trying to pull tissues apart and it will be much less effective.
2. Keep a tight bracing of the core when you do this exercise.
3. Stay bent over and squeeze the rear glute. Then try to rise up until you cannot hold the glute contraction. Do not go beyond that point. Your goal is to get all the way vertical WITH a rear glute contraction.

Next, try the couch stretch. The ďSuper CouchĒ is done with a band, looped around the hip and pulling to the front. You can do this with or without the band. The band makes it more effective:

http://youtu.be/5EiUquYdyPU

The couch stretch is different from the first variation in that you put your leg up against a wall (or couch back). This puts more stretch into the quads.

Do either of these, every day and twice a day if possible. Start with 30 seconds each side, build to 1 min and then 2 minutes each side. Remember to start more bent over and with good posture in the torso. Squeeze the glutes and use your finger or hand to touch the rear glute to help you figure out how to contract them.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57465)
Right now I focus on doing these things consciously. I don't know whether or not my glutes can maintain this level of work indefinitely, but they certainly suffice to walk comfortably 6-8 miles.

i've played with this in my gait, meaning i've squeezed my glutes consciously for months to see if i'd get some automatic activation. it turned out that there were other issues underlying all this in my foot strike and gait. i'm fixing those now, and now i have good automatic activation, as well as not overactivation but just enough reflexive activation to properly use glutes in walking.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57465)
As for swimming, my focus is more on maintaining a level position in the water, and my head and upper body position seem to play the biggest role in doing this. During swim rotation, the hips rotate, not only up and down, but also forward (as you reach with the spear) and back (as your recovering hand comes out of the water). If this motion is not coupled smoothly with the shoulder and spear, there is a Kachunk, Kachunk feeling in the rotation. When the timing of all of these things are well tuned to each other, it feels as if my spine is remaining motionless and the rotation is occurring around it smoothly and without disturbing the position of my body axis. This is what I aim at. It may be that d-breathing plays an important role in all of this, but my sense at this point is that the timing of my shoulders and hips are the low hanging fruit in this optimization problem for me, at least right now.

Thanks again for your willingness to go after these issues with me.

d-breathing gives you the basis from which to work from. now comes the hard work in imprinting new movement patterns.

Danny 02-22-2016 02:40 AM

Thanks, David. Definitely different from what I've been doing up until now. I'll give it a try and see what happens.

CoachDavidShen 02-22-2016 01:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danny (Post 57470)
Thanks, David. Definitely different from what I've been doing up until now. I'll give it a try and see what happens.

Another note i just remembered this morning. In a seminar i was talking with some PTs out of Eastern Europe about stabilization and running, and they remarked that often people get hamstring cramps because they are substituting for lack of IAP stabilization of the pelvis when they run. the hamstrings are trying vainly to stop the pelvis from rocking and get wiped out. So yes many muscles can substitute for lack of IAP and it is doable to stabilize without good IAP. many exceptional athletes are also exceptional compensators and compensate themselves to amazing performances. however, if you want to perform activity for the rest of your life, you should use the right muscles in the right tasks and not compensate, or else it raises the chance for injury, which is something that happens to most exceptional athletes.

Danny 02-22-2016 02:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen (Post 57478)
Another note i just remembered this morning. In a seminar i was talking with some PTs out of Eastern Europe about stabilization and running, and they remarked that often people get hamstring cramps because they are substituting for lack of IAP stabilization of the pelvis when they run. the hamstrings are trying vainly to stop the pelvis from rocking and get wiped out. So yes many muscles can substitute for lack of IAP and it is doable to stabilize without good IAP. many exceptional athletes are also exceptional compensators and compensate themselves to amazing performances. however, if you want to perform activity for the rest of your life, you should use the right muscles in the right tasks and not compensate, or else it raises the chance for injury, which is something that happens to most exceptional athletes.

My problem with running (and walking) was that I would come down on my forward foot when it was in front of my body, a tendency that is often referred to as heel striking. This also means that you need your hamstrings to pull your leg back, and 25 years ago I started getting my first repetitive hamstring injuries (which ultimately led me to swimming). So the most important corrective action was to learn to land on my foot when it is directly underneath my body. This lessens impact, but it also means that the glutes can be used to stabilize the hip as the opposite leg is recovering. In this regard, I realized that I am not using my glutes in a continual fashion, which you warned me against. I use them as a counterbalance to my recovering leg, so that they are working primarily only during half the running cycle. This gives them the opportunity to recover.

Danny 02-25-2016 04:29 PM

Postscript
 
David,

Yesterday a snow storm moved through SE Michigan dumping about 8 inches of wet heavy snow on my driveway. Shoveling wet heavy snow is about the worst thing I can do to my arthritic lower back, but I found that the d-breathing gave me all the support I needed to do it without suffering negative after-effects. Of course this is more like weight lifting than like swimming, but at my stage of awareness of these muscles, it was perhaps just the right exercise to get a feel for how to engage and control them. The subtleties of using them while swimming may come at a later stage, but for now I think this was a very educational experience. Thanks for your help!


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