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  #31  
Old 02-20-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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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!
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  #32  
Old 02-21-2016
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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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...
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  #33  
Old 02-21-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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This Message Is Reproduced Below

Last edited by Danny : 02-21-2016 at 06:41 PM.
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  #34  
Old 02-21-2016
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This Message Is Reproduced Below

Last edited by Danny : 02-21-2016 at 06:41 PM.
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  #35  
Old 02-21-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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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.
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  #36  
Old 02-21-2016
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
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 View Post
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 “Super Couch” 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 View Post
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 View Post
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.
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  #37  
Old 02-22-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Thanks, David. Definitely different from what I've been doing up until now. I'll give it a try and see what happens.
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  #38  
Old 02-22-2016
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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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.
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  #39  
Old 02-22-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen View Post
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.
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  #40  
Old 02-25-2016
Danny Danny is offline
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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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