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  #11  
Old 02-17-2016
descending descending is offline
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Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post
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.
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  #12  
Old 02-17-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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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.
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  #13  
Old 02-17-2016
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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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!
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  #14  
Old 02-17-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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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.
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  #15  
Old 02-17-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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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?
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  #16  
Old 02-18-2016
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Originally Posted by Danny View Post
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...
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  #17  
Old 02-18-2016
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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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.
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  #18  
Old 02-18-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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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!
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  #19  
Old 02-18-2016
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Originally Posted by Danny View Post
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.

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Originally Posted by Danny View Post
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 View Post
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 View Post
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 View Post
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?
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  #20  
Old 02-18-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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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.
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