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Old 07-16-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Default Finding Movement Again

I just wanted to share thoughts from last night's OW swim with the Pittsburgh Triathlon Club, which meets weekly in the summers for swims of anywhere from 750 to 4200 yds depending on which landmark you use to turnaround and how many laps you do (2 laps to the 40th street bridge is 4200yds).

Over the past many months I've been spening most of my time finishing up work on a grueling schedule at my hospital and in the free time I did have, teaching 2-3 swim lessons on my days off as well as finding time ot ride with my bike team.

Needless to say I have not been doing a lot of swimming on my own.

2 weeks ago I went to the OW swim, and after teaching a 15 min swim clinic on sighting, decided to swim with one of my athletes to the 40th st bridge and back (2100 yds). about 3/4 of the way there, I simply felt tired. My muscles didn't hurt, but some part of my brain told me that I should go back.

My athlete even asked me if I wanted to turn back, but I was too stubborn...wanting to swim further than most of the local triathlete that came out. This turned out to be a big mistake. I've never "injured" my shoulders before, but partway back my left shoulder started to burn. Every time I breathed to the right, a searing pain went through my left shoulder. Naturally I knew that some of my swim mechanics were off, but it was too late to refine technique.

I ended up swimming back with a variety of one -armed strokes including freestyle, breast stroke and even fly. (oddly, 2 armed fly didn't hurt my shoulder).

So last night was my first time back in the water. My shoulders are still "achy" but now I wonder if it isn't from lack of swimming and that little surfing lesson I took in florida last week.

I was terrified of doing long term damage to my shoulder, so I started out in slow motion swimming. I decided I didn't care what other people were thinking, even though everyone was watching me swim. (there goes coach suzanne). There was a little soreness in my shoulders but no pain. I decided to switch to doing drills and tried one of my favorites, the swing skate.

I discovered that I was carrying a lot of tension in my neck and swing skate helped me find that release. incidentally, this tension would have been enough to throw off my breathing 2 weeks ago...it's probably been lingering there for a few months.

I slowly switched to the other side and found the same thing. I skated and speared and swung, and without any visual feedback (zero visibility in the Allegheny river), all I had was my proprioceptive sense and the feeling of the pressure of the water on my body.

I stopped frequently to regroup my thoughts as swimmers passed me and it became a bit of a social hour out there in the river as my students stopped and asked me to watch their sighting or other random swimming questions.

After everyone had headed back to the dock, I slowly made my way back. I swim full stroke freestyle focused on my head position (releasing the tension), placing as little pressure as possible on my palms and taking low streamlined breaths just below the surface of the water (in the wake if my tiny bow wave).

I probably swam no more than 200m, yet I left the water feeling 100% refreshed with a clear mind and a sense of accomplishment. I had climbed out of hte river a better swimmer than I had entered, and had nothing to do with how far I swam that night.

Today I feel invigorated, my shoulder discomfort seems to be 100% gone and I cant wait to get to the pool and find my movement again.
__________________
Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #2  
Old 07-17-2011
solothesailor solothesailor is offline
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Join Date: May 2011
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solothesailor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
. . . partway back my left shoulder started to burn. Every time I breathed to the right, a searing pain went through my left shoulder.
. . . . a little soreness in my shoulders but no pain. I decided to switch to doing drills and tried one of my favorites, the swing skate.

I discovered that I was carrying a lot of tension in my neck and swing skate helped me find that release.
. . . .
Thank you CoachSuzanne. Your postings have helped me a lot before and I am a grateful fan. Am real glad you turned back. I am currently reading an excellent book for the 2nd time (ie cover to cover then start over again, it's that good) "Fearless Swimming for Triathletes" by Ingrid Loos Miller; as well as excellent tips it described all sorts of maladies, some causing deaths and some of these with unknown causes.

I am suffering some shoulder pains (unsure if related to swimming -learning the TI way in the pool or just because of some sport -sailing- injury previously) so appreciate your sharing the experience. Please kindly help me clarify:
1) what caused the burning pain in your shoulder? The neck tension you mentioned?
2) Is 'swing skate' the skating on one side and switching once to breathe then switching back to the same side skating?

Thanks Coach.
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  #3  
Old 07-20-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
1) what caused the burning pain in your shoulder? The neck tension you mentioned?
2) Is 'swing skate' the skating on one side and switching once to breathe then switching back to the same side skating?
#1 I believe that general deconditioning and some decline in technique combined with a "first time swim" in a few weeks of 2000yard in open water and nearly non-stop caused the stronger deltoid & bicep muscles to destabilize my shoulder joint causing impingment on the rotator cuff muscles.

Had any one or two of the above 3 factors not been present It likely wouldn't have happened.
(the 3 factors being a) deconditioning due to not much swimming recently b) poor form, including tension in the neck c) 2000yd OWS (as opposed to say a set of 4 x 25 + 3 x 50... etc).

#2 Swing skate is skating position with t he recovery elbow "swung" forward and the forearm hanging loosely marionette style with the forearem in the water. It's the "ready" position prior to the switch. Simply skate in this swung position without switching. It's yet another moment of balance to master.
__________________
Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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