Every once in a while things click, you may have worked on them for months or years and finally it is just clear. I had a moment in Minneapolis where the whole issue of head position just clicked. I have been studying posture and been focusing a lot on its impact of other things we do especially as it applies to Triathlon. During a backstroke session with Terry he kept telling me to pull my chin in. This kept my body in a straight plane and not the bent stick I was becoming on my back.
Why on my front when I relax my head and let the water take it does it not translate into backstroke?
Why am I physically activating my neck extensors to fix my body line on my back?
If it isn't working for me in the back stroke can I assume it isn't working in Freestyle?
My posture assessment shows a forward head position, to be in a horizonal line in the water I would have to pull my head back to line it up, this is not the same as weightless head. It falls into laser lead and lengthen your vessel, neither of which give you a relaxed head position, so is relaxing the head for me a mistake as my shortened neck extensors and lengthened neck flexors leave me with a forward head position. This is something that was revealed in my physical assessment.
I took my questions to the pool and did up a workout, to my amazement, my head position is now pulled back, it allows me easy air on both sides without actually tricking myself to go for air early on the opposite side I naturally breath on. I need to engage the muscles in my neck to get my head in line.
How should it feel, if you stand against a wall and pretend you are being measured you lengthen your neck by pushing up and back through the top of your had, the back is where your chin is going, if you were to stand at attention, same thing, the chin would come in.
How it works. Get on your back in skate position with one arm at the side hugging your inner thigh and the other out in skate position in a 45 degree angle float, just off your back and allow your lead hand to reach, but fingers come to just below the surface of the water. Keep kicking on your back adjusting your chin position. Do not allow the chin to tuck so that your head tilts, you want a straight line from top of the head to your toes.
Once you establish your balance on your back, go back to skate on your front and try and get the same head position. Yes it is different, when you do an interrupted breath, you should return to balance on your back, if you are again out of balance you head has changed postion, keep practicing skate 45 degrees on your front, going to an interrupted breath at 45 degrees on your back until you feel you are holding your head in the same position for both. You should be able to roll without moving up and down in the water, make sure it comes from the hips.
Once you have your head in control go to swim. Try to keep the focus on your head position, you are now going to bilateral breath. Before each breath recheck your head position and correct if you have lost it, roll for air, it is right there, no matter which side you go to the air is always there, your head is in the position it needs to be to reach air. There is no change in the body line in the water, the rotation is around your axis with no distortions.
In summary, if you are suffering posture problems and practicing swim, you must use posture correction even in the water to avoid your posture becoming responsible for your next injury. If your posture is in balance, you are in balance in the water, any deviation of your posture will be magnified in the water. If you have kyphosis, or a large upper back curve, this is something you will have to work on all the time trying to get your head back, that large curve sets your head down at one and and your legs down at the other end, some people reach too far forward with their arms which puts a huge stress on the lower back, make sure you are reaching in front to a slightly lower target, this will allow you to get your legs up higher. It will relieve a lot of the lower back issues you may be getting from swimming.
Work on the posture and see all of your sports improve. The body is a beautiful thing, work wonders with yours and see what it can achieve.