A different approach to shoulder injury prevention
Having had some shoulder pain lately and been trying to figure out what movement causes the pain.
So doing dryland swimming movements to feel where in the swim movement the pain is induced and what movement to make to come to an efficient smooth and painfree movement.
The outcome was rather surprising and obvious at the same time.
Adding a lot of shoulder roll (preception wise) and having a slight S pull shape with a lot of shoulder roatation combined with shoulder extension felt the best and deliverd a movement pattern that didnt touch sensitive parts in the stroke.
The pain was there at the start of the pull and the start of the recovery.
Rounding the novement and keeping it moving and flowing driven more from shouilder twist between hips and shoulders to slingshot the arms out without local shoulder muscle action proved the best.
More roll,at the shoulders makes the recovery easier, so that one was obvious.
Making a figure 8 movement(with a small lateral movent at the top of the 8) with the arms when looking from above was less obvious.
Internal rotation and extension, rolling the shoulderblade forward over the ribcage was less obnious action to expect pain relieve from, but it ws better in my case.
Anyway I really like this new acttion.
Still keeping the hip drive, but keeping the rotation under stringent control and rotatin the shoulders on top of that stable hip foundation/rotation.
Bonus is that you get a very good catch, totally digging in the water and twisting that big paddle back with back and core muscles relative to hips, unwinding around the axis, anchoring on the leg.
This isnt only for shoulder driven swimmers. Phelps and Thorpe are not typical shoulder driven swimmers and look at their relative shoulder to hip roll angles
Why do so many people have a dropped elbow after a long static extension?
What are they doing from arm entry to start of pull with their shoulders and their hip rotation?
Compare Phelps and Thorpes action with this guys action.
Who is using more total body and core muscles between shoulders and hips?
Who sets up these core muscles and prepares his paddle to the following extra action from these muscles to twist and pull this paddle back?
his hip rotates further than his shoulder so he only has his shoulder muscles in the shoulder region itself to start his catch and pull. Than its waiting for problems..... and a dropped elbow is the result.
His shoulders are at the wrong side of the hip rotation. No front to back unwind action possible
Havent figured this out fully. plenty of swimmers move the hips and shouldrs over the same angle and dont have dropped elbow problems, but there certainly is something that helps preventing a dropped elbow in the discribed extra shoulder roll.
Looking at Shinji from this prespective, he also als some shoulder roll on top of his hip roll. Not much, but the basic action is there. His catch and pull technique and timing is not extreme EVF, but basically sound.
To isolate the action to get a feel for it this drill can be usefull.
It goes against balance and hip drive, but remember its an isolation drill.
You keep the hip drive and balance but build this action on top of it in full stroke once you get it.
It releases the local shoulder stress and shifts the power from shoulders to core muscles supporting the spine and between ribcage/shoulders and hips.
The arms are more moving along on his core driven action instead of moving isolated in the shoulder socket.
This limits the load on the shoulder socket and the required range of motion there.
Its a rather advanced movement pattern to keep it all under control and connected.
Tried it a few years ago and the whole stroke fell apart.
If you got the basics its fun to experiment with it and start to understand better what some guys are doing.
Thanks doctor Thorpe, for showing new swimming possibilities
In my case, adding extra shoulder roll plus shoulder blade sliding plus internal rottaion makes the action the guy is showing from 1 min 17 is easier to achieve (well, trying at least) without shoulder trouble.
In the end its very simple.
You want as little rotation of the arm bone head in the shoulder socket under load as possible.
Thats why you set up your shoulder angles and stretch out the core in the time available when the arm is weightless and the movements are unloaded.
When load is applied on the shoulder joint from catch onward, less relative motion is needed and more work is done by surrounding muscles. protecting the most vulnarable shoulder part.
Last edited by Zenturtle : 11-27-2016 at 02:39 PM.
HI Danny, I knew at least you would find it interesting.
Well, I compared a bunch of swimmers kick timing relative to their arm timing, level of front quadrant timing and hip turn relative to this timing.
Seems strokes that look similar at first glance, all with good kicktiming can vary a lot in relative arms-leg connection if you compare them in slow motion.
The hand entry is a poor reference timing point because the hand stays in front relatively long.
Some have the kick right before hand entry, some press the hand through after hand entry with a late kick into full rotation.
Its really difficult to say whats right or wrong when very good elite swimmers can have a rather wide variety of kick timings.(if you zoom in)
I like to reference the timing of the main kick with the timing of the highest hip roll speed and the max pull force (subjective, but usually obvious from the footage)
Strong swimmers usually have the kick early right after catch, a lot of female swimmers have the roll and kick late at the end of the push.
Both can look good.
The amount of shoulder roll on hip roll isnt that influential on the kick timing.
More shoulder roll often goes together with less hip roll etc.
My conclusion is that its all pretty personal within certain limits.
If you compare Thorpes stroke with the guy who finshes second here, Thorpes stroke looks much more refined.
But whats the actual difference in avarage swim pace?
The second guy is swimming just as fast basically. How much is perfection worth in the normal world?
Last edited by Zenturtle : 11-27-2016 at 08:59 PM.
we are going off topic already,
But this is kind of interesting for swim nerds. Comparing Thorpe with Tarzan.
Tarzans stroke is very much like the modern stroke.
If elites would swim with more kayak timing and with their head out of the water, it would still look exactly as Tarzans stroke.
Because he has to trash his arms in the water and push down more in combination with a more kayaklike armtiming, there is more disturbance on his balance, especially from the arm entry on the 3th kick(arm entry on one side/arm exit on other side), which is more powerfull and starts to look as the main kick almost, but otherwise the resemblence with Thorpes kick is striking.
He even has the same 2 stage depth from first- inbetween- third in his kick action.
These guys must have an instinct that hates a leg that sticks out too far in the underlying stream of water and creates lots of drag.
Tarzans postion is angled down more than Thorpes but its not that bad.
setup for 1
So, more to show my interest I picked one of my thoughts:
Think you're right, when shoulders and hips are not parallel it's easier to avoid a leading elbow and slipping forearm while pushing. You can feel it if your lower arm is lying on shelf in shoulder height or little bit higher in catch Position. To add force down on your elbow is easier if your hip turns a bit more than your shoulder. If you do the same and try to force down focused on your hand and lower arm you can add it with parallel hips and shoulders but other muscles are in action. While stroking the last will easier lead to a slipping elbow than the first. (When I read it seems to Sound vice versa, but you'll feel it by yourself if you try...)
Shinji even has dryland exercise to disconnect hips and shoulders a little.
But I'm worried about the many repetitions (much more than golfers will do) while swimming will hurt your spine in long time. I'm not a physiotherapist nor a medical doctor. Hope they'll add some more profund facts in this.
As always fwiw but with best regards,
Last edited by WFEGb : 11-27-2016 at 09:42 PM. Reason: Correction
Hi ZT, I spent some more time thinking about your original proposal (not Tarzan), and whether or not I should try to modify my stroke in this way. Here are my tentative thoughts: I like to talk about the "pencil paradigm", where there is no twisting of the body as you swim. This can be thought of as instant communication between the hips and the shoulders. The twisting paradigm introduces a phase lag, where first the hips rotate and then it takes a while for the rotation to move up the body to the shoulders. Now it seems that there may be a third alternative. If you watch the swimmer in the drill you posted, who keeps a kick board under his hips, his hips and shoulders may be rotating in phase, but the hips are more damped than the shoulders. This could give rise to the twisting motion. In this regard, if you look, for example, at Coach Mandy's freestyle, I think she comes closer to a pencil type. What do you think?
Getting back to me (and I am not a fast swimmer) I avoid shoulder problems by spearing somewhat deeper. I think this means that I don't have to move my shoulders as far before I have a good grip on the water. My hunch is that shoulder problems arise when you try to rush the catch up front, because then you are loading the shoulder joint. I like to think of myself as a pencil swimmer, but I have so much trouble determining what style other people in your videos use that I have no idea what I am doing, even if I did have film of me to look at. It may be that I am twisting without realizing it. I try to time my kick to throw me past my anchored hand, which means I need a good grip on the water before the kick comes.
Spearing deep has some disadvantages though. A high spear makes for much better streamlining if you can do it without arching your back and thus dropping your hips. Also spearing deep seems to shorten my stroke.
So how much twisting am I actually doing when I swim? I am tempted to try to pay attention to this when I next get in the pool, although I am also concerned that thinking about it will just screw up my stroke. I would also like to try the drill with the board under my hips. That may tell me something.
Anyway, I'm glad you seem to have found a resolution to your shoulder problems that is working for you.
One more thought just occurred to me. We often talk about "stacked shoulders" which arise when you over-rotate. The problem with this is that when you over-rotate, it becomes hard to reverse direction and you are out of balance. The result is that you start trying to initiate the rotation back with your hands or by kicking too wide. On the other hand, if you stack your shoulders (by making them almost vertical) but your hips are not stacked (like the swimmer with the kick board under his hips) then reversing rotation with your kick should still be easy. So this type of swimming technique may allow you to over-rotate your shoulders (giving you a better catch and easier breathing) without the trouble of reversing directions to rotate back with the hips. If so, then that is a definite advantage...
thats part of the reason why I started experimenting with it,
The hip rotation on my non breathing side was a bit too much and then the hips starts sagging, requiring a bigger kick to get it over to the other side and losing connection with the shoulder.
Happens with a lot of swimmers breathing on one side.
So yes you can gain some general rotation benefits without overrotating hips.
I also used to rolling the hips a bit more than the shoulders, which also isnt productive.
This focusses on overcorrecting that also.
All the talk about hip drive can make people overdo a good thing.
this well known clip adresses that point, but extra shoulder roll on top of a cintrolled hip roll is going one step further from that direction
As i said. plenty swimmers seem to move the body as one unit, but probably the internal tension and forces in the core are the same as with extra shoulder roll, only the amplitude of that extra roll is minimal.
Think of throwing things.
You get maximal summation of forces when you twist from foot to hip to shoulder and use the arm as the last extension.
If you dont twist from hip to shoulder, you have to rotate the whole upperbody including hips more.
Locking the shoulder to the hip isnt optimal.
When they talk about extension forward from the shoulder on the stable hip moving forward it tends to produce some extra shoulder roll with some extra stretch.
Thats more or less the same idea , but with mininal extra shoulder roll.
Its esiest to try it on dryland.
Do your normal stroke and see what how much shouldres and hips are rotating.
Now try to limit the rotation of your hips and increase the rotation of your shoulders.
Or try to rotate the dhoulders and hips exactly the same amount at the same time.
You will see it feels quite different, and rolling only with the shoulders stretches out the back and other parts more than usually.
If you get the different styles hopefully your muscles can remember some of the dryland ques in the pool.
Wether you like it or not, it increases your body awareness to try different styles.
Mandy drives herself into rotation long after the arm has entered mostly with the kick it seems.Kick syncs with the end of the underwater arm action. A late kick in my definition.
Looks to ne her hips sink a little lower than the shoulders rotationwise but hips and shoulders nearly rotating as one unit.
alignment,balance and streamline look very good. Kick and pull are a little too agressive for me.
I like the upperbody and arm mechanics of the asian guy better, but thats just my opinion.
Stuart probably thinks otherwise;-)
Watched sone beginner TI swimmers with this shoulder hip rotation focus in mind.
All are rolling the hips more than shoulders and hip roll is out of control
thats the opposite of what elite swimmers do.
Compared to that action, keeping moving the body as one unit and aligned is already a massive improvement.
She also has hip drive, the hips lead and move a touch more than shoulders just like Mandy but its very very minimal.
This is avarage standard timing, halfway between catchup and kayak with an old skool S like pull.
Last edited by Zenturtle : 11-28-2016 at 07:16 AM.
Hi ZT, this morning I got in the pool and started paying attention to what I was doing in the context of this discussion. As near as I can tell, I am already rotating my shoulders much more than my hips, and this gives me the feeling of a very stable platform from which I can kick to move past my anchored hand. In fact, I had the sense that, the less I move my hips, the easier it is to reverse rotation using my kick. This is, of course, just my perception of what I am doing, and I have no picture to analyze. When I get the chance, I would like to try the exercise with the kick board under the hips to see how difficult it is for me. That will perhaps tell me more about what I am doing.