breaking away....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Total Immersion Summit Minneapolis

Day 1 - Let the learning begin, I signed up for the other stroke clinic where we cover the butterfly, the breast and the back, the three b's.  I love Triathlon, so doing things in 3's is the right amount of variety to keep me moving and learning.  I was very happy with the clinic, it was for the coaches only.  I was able to get into the pool with 12 - 14 other coaches.  The butterfly had a gentle introduction and I have to say that the ease of which we moved into it made me realize that struggling was not going to happen today.  The quiet progress was as successful as I predicted.  I am not a multi stroked swimmer and have only attempted butterfly during masters swims a few times usually with fins and a lot of energy.  I was enjoying the relaxed feel and the ease of executing to be sure. 

Breast stroke was a function of streamline and timing to get the finesse, the back stroke to be continued tomorrow of course offered the sinus full of water I was expecting and some gravity shifting I would expect for a bi-lateral stroke.  Doing the butterfly and breast offered the challenge of changing the focus to something completely different, where the backstroke brought you back to the shift of weight.  I enjoyed being in the pool learning again rather than just teaching.

Maria showed up and was showing me her group on the ipad doing their first open water swim after 5 lessons.  She is busy as we all are, and as excited about the progress of her athletes as she was in March, very nice to see her again.  I got to put some faces to some names on the ticoach list and noticed we had a number of people ranging in experience from months to years, a great mix for a summit.

When we got into the summit it was all business, a little bit of an uphill grind trying to take it all in, but thankfully Shinji is very organized and has made this something we can look up and reflect on later.  I was pleased to see that my career path to master coach was laid out, I no longer had to wonder how to get there, Shinji created a map.  There is an enormous amount of new information to cover regarding the business side, I hope it is spaced out over the entire weekend.

Sitting in the summit with the coaches around the table made for an interesting introduction time.  It makes you curious about everyones experiences, everyones philosophies and how they integrate Total Immersion into their jobs and futures.

This is an optomistic time for Total Immersion in a year where things are so difficult for so many, where success is not guaranteed to those who are willing to work hard at their jobs, learning that going with the flow may actually be the answer to many peoples problems with swimming, one only hopes they find that easy efficient transition into employment and financial security, it begins with balancing the budget, streamlining spending and moving forward.  Let's hope this is something we can all learn.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Postural Assessment and the Triathlete

Postural Assessment is to see how imperfections in your posture reveal muscle length imbalances.  These imbalances can play a roll in injury during training.  Most of these imbalances come from having bad postural habits, while sitting and standing while at work, driving and doing our every day activities.  Many hours of bad posture can not be reversed by small exercises, they take a conscious effort to correct, you must focus on correct posture while sitting, driving, and doing our every day activities.

Your head should be centered over the shoulders, you have a cervical curve in your spine, a thoracic curve, and a lumbar curve.  If any part of those curves is exaggerated or reduced there is a risk of injury.  Sitting at our desk with shoulders rolled forward and head reaching forward is enhancing or exaggerating our thoracic (upper back) curve, it lengthens the muscles in the back, shortens the muscles in the back of the neck, lengthens the muscles in the front of the neck and shortens the  chest muscles, just by having a forward reaching posture during your work day, you can create a pattern of movement which can lead to shoulder problems.

Keep your head over your shoulders, your shoulders back and down, a small lumbar curve with slight forward tilt of the pelvis and you are sitting correctly, at attention.  This will take time to become less work as you have to actively pull your shoulders back if the back muscles have lengthened, now you need to strengthen them.  If the pectoral muscles have shortened they need to be stretched, working the back will stretch the chest.

How does this affect the triathlete.  Look at your posture during swimming.  Freestyle swim is an internal rotation of the shoulder, this shortens the pecs or chest, as it is actively using those muscles.  Basically swimming will accentuate bad posture by strengthening the short muscles and lengthening the long muscles.  How do you correct this, add external shoulder rotation to your dryland training, add shoulder retraction, work through the middle and lower traps.  If you add some back stroke to your workout you will also work at lengthening the muscles that you are shortening, it is a balancing act, it is something you need to focus on all the time, work the muscles in balance, the minute you work one and ignore the other you will see changes in joint mobility and movement patterns.

Rounded lower backs, as we slouch at our desk or hang over the steering wheel we are allowing our lumbar curve to round,  constant sitting shortens our hip flexors and lengthens our glutes.  The hip is the one area of the body that once it is no longer in balance can cause lower back, hip, knee and foot problems.  By shortening one side of the supporting muscles of the hip socket you are creating a new movement pattern for the hip in the socket.  When the hip is weak the body will compensate, it will try to use the lower back to do the work.   Ever notice on a long ride that if you have one leg that feels powerless that the spinal errectors on that side are tight and get tighter as the ride gets longer.  This is a sign you need to work those hips, you need them to do their job.

I have included a PDF of my abbreviated static assessment, it is just for information purposes, to help you see what some of the problems look like in a photo.  It is another way to look at things and you may decide it is time to do something about it.  Race Season is months away, what better time to make the change than now.