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  #1  
Old 03-13-2009
rjsteadman rjsteadman is offline
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Default Error with kick resulting in hamstring strain?

Hi all. I have been doing quite a lot of distance swimming since Xmas due to a calf injury which held up my running and I'm wondering if it may have caused another problem.
I'm getting a pain in my right hamstring - only on the very lowest part, behind the knee on the inside, which although I don't really feel when swimming (or running) apart from occasionally when I push off after a turn, I do feel it somewhat after a swim. I've seen a physio about it who didn't find anything running-wise so now I'm wondering if my kick on that leg is causing the problem. Is this likely or could that not really happen with swimming?
Thanks,
Robert.
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  #2  
Old 03-13-2009
Jamwhite Jamwhite is offline
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How do you kick?
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  #3  
Old 03-13-2009
rjsteadman rjsteadman is offline
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I use a 2-beat kick, (in theory) from the hip.
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  #4  
Old 03-13-2009
madvet madvet is offline
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The nice thing about swimming, is that if you are feeling strain it is practically always conflicting muscle action -- whereas in other sports activites they can be caused by the body pounding against the ground, pulling against a heavy object, repeated impacts, etc. Water is practically weightless it really can't hurt you. So you are hurting yourself.

Check your movement and your use of the hamstrings. You might be activating your hamstrings as you kick down in an extra effort to keep your knee straight. Your quadriceps can do that job just fine. You might be using the hamstrings on the upswing of the kick -- you need to use them a little but for the most part you can really use the rotation of the hips to let them float up.

Concentrate on letting any activity in the hamstrings you are using on the upkick to let go well before you kick down, and as you kick down don't use the hamstrings to brace the leg.
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Old 03-14-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madvet View Post
The nice thing about swimming, is that if you are feeling strain it is practically always conflicting muscle action...
AH. That might explain why, yesterday, my right leg felt crampy in both the front and back, but my other leg didn't feel as tense on either side. (I was alternating between breaststroke and crawl.)
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  #6  
Old 03-17-2009
rjsteadman rjsteadman is offline
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Thanks for that John. I went to the pool today and made a fairly meticulous examination of my kick (it helped that the pool was empty!). I think I can see some tension in that leg, probably linked to it being my weaker side for balance & breathing, so have started trying to work it out with some relaxed fish & skating drills at first.
Ultimately it should improve my stroke and may well help with breathing on that side....
Thanks,
Robert.
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  #7  
Old 03-17-2009
splashingpat splashingpat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madvet View Post
The nice thing about swimming, is that if you are feeling strain it is practically always conflicting muscle action -- whereas in other sports activites they can be caused by the body pounding against the ground, pulling against a heavy object, repeated impacts, etc. Water is practically weightless it really can't hurt you. So you are hurting yourself.

Check your movement and your use of the hamstrings. You might be activating your hamstrings as you kick down in an extra effort to keep your knee straight. Your quadriceps can do that job just fine. You might be using the hamstrings on the upswing of the kick -- you need to use them a little but for the most part you can really use the rotation of the hips to let them float up.

Concentrate on letting any activity in the hamstrings you are using on the upkick to let go well before you kick down, and as you kick down don't use the hamstrings to brace the leg.
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  #8  
Old 03-29-2009
elskbrev elskbrev is offline
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Default Error with kick resulting in hamstring strain?

Dear madvet,
Having read more than one of your posts, I have the impression you know a bit about swimming, but maybe not so much about physiology.

You started off saying water was “practically weightless.” Not so. If you work *with* the water, it may seem weightless, but put on 16” fins and you immediately feel the increased resistance. One can get injured pretty easily kicking powerfully against the water while wearing fins.

You also stated, “You might be activating your hamstrings as you kick down in an extra effort to keep your knee straight.” That cannot be--muscles may lengthen (stretch) and pull (contract), but they do not push.

Here’s what’s probably happening to cause rjsteadman’s lower hamstring injury: At *almost* the bottom of the down kick, with the quadriceps doing the pulling, the hamstring starts to contract while still lengthening in preparation for pulling the leg back for the up kick.

It is at this point where the opposing muscle (hamstring) is contracting while still lengthening where the swimmer is most prone to injury on the down kick.

Part of your advice for rjsteadman works to an extent--“Concentrate on letting any activity in the hamstrings you are using on the upkick to let go well before you kick down.” That is, if he endeavors to avoid activating the hamstring *at any time* in the down kick, that should help. This might be difficult for him to accomplish if he depends on the power of his kicks to swim fast.

The real question is how should a swimmer train to stretch and strengthen the hamstrings so that they may withstand the natural and correct tendency to contract while still stretching at their greatest range of motion.

Cindy
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Old 03-30-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elskbrev View Post
You also stated, “You might be activating your hamstrings as you kick down in an extra effort to keep your knee straight.” That cannot be--muscles may lengthen (stretch) and pull (contract), but they do not push.
Well, yeah, usually. There might be opposing muscles firing at the same time, especially when someone is unsure about a movement or trying to protect a joint. I think that also happens when one has something like Parkinson's. (Don't go and start self-diagnosing! heh)
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  #10  
Old 03-30-2009
madvet madvet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elskbrev View Post
Dear madvet,


The real question is how should a swimmer train to stretch and strengthen the hamstrings so that they may withstand the natural and correct tendency to contract while still stretching at their greatest range of motion.

Cindy

I won't pretend to know the answer to that! It seems we agree that the strain is likely to be from opposing motion. Part of the point of my exercise was to learn how to engage the gluteals to extend the hips to assist the hamstrings. I don't know if this is the whole answer to training the hamstrings.

A pint of water weighs a pound. Whether you consider that "weightless" is a matter of perspective. My point was that opposing muscles are likely to be a much greater force. We don't have much choice about the water. We can train ourselves to work as best we can to avoid energy wasting counter-tension. In a "weightless" environment we don't need to brace our joints.
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