General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Possible Swim Explanation, Possible Total Bunk (Hip-flexors and balance?) Rss Feed  
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2013-06-26 1:50 PM


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Subject: Possible Swim Explanation, Possible Total Bunk (Hip-flexors and balance?)
So I've had a good couple of weeks in the pool-- yardage up, time down, form comfortable, podiums/sponsorship/international fame and fortune squarely in my grasp, and then... total disaster. My swim stroke has completely collapsed. Specifically, the back half has completely collapsed. I went from having my feet pretty securely on the surface to dragging them many many inches below the surface. I don't feel like my kick has necessarily changed (i.e. same kick speed/force/etc., and same yardage with kick alone in drills), but I can feel that it's now totally in the water instead of breaking the surface. Accordingly, I feel like I'm swimming with a parachute on.

The wife-and-trainer points out that after some major bike workouts the last couple of weeks, I've been complaining about how tight my hip flexors have been. Her theory is that tight hip flexors might be pulling my legs down instead of letting me get full extension and balance on the surface. Granted, while she's enormously knowledgeable, skilled, highly regarded in the field, etc., you could not pay this woman to get in the pool and swim 100 yds. I don't confuse this diagnosis with a coaches' advice, and I don't think that I'll get smacked for that either. Does the explanation make sense, though? Anyone else have tight hip flexors change the angle of the lower body fairly significantly? And if so, does this mean that stretching and getting the flexibility will put me back on path to inevitable world domination?


2013-06-26 2:09 PM
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Subject: RE: Possible Swim Explanation, Possible Total Bunk (Hip-flexors and balance?)

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the wife might be right.

Tight hip flexors can make it difficult for your glutes to extend your hips to maintain a good balanced position while swimming front crawl.  It's not uncommon for it to manifest itself as back pain, because instead of extension occuring from the hips, people tend to compensate by extending the spine instead, causing the back extensors to pick up the slack for the glutes.

Try this: get in the pool and do a warm up.  Get out of the water on the pool deck and perform a bridge for 3 holds of about 30 seconds each with 15-30 seconds rest between each.  In the middle of each hold, have someone push down on your hips for a count of 5 seconds.  After they let off the pressure on your hips, continue to push up for the rest of the 30 seconds.  Each time they let up, your hips should rise a little higher.  This should help activate your glutes while stretching your psoas.

Get back in the water and see if it makes a difference in your ability to extend your hips with your glutes to achieve a good balanced body position.

 



Edited by TriMyBest 2013-06-26 2:12 PM
2013-06-26 2:31 PM
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Subject: RE: Possible Swim Explanation, Possible Total Bunk (Hip-flexors and balance?)
Thanks, Don-- I like the idea of your bridge set after warming up. Now I just have to get her to come to the pool with me in the morning... ;-)
2013-06-26 6:09 PM
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Subject: RE: Possible Swim Explanation, Possible Total Bunk (Hip-flexors and balance?)
Originally posted by TriMyBest

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the wife might be right.

Tight hip flexors can make it difficult for your glutes to extend your hips to maintain a good balanced position while swimming front crawl.  It's not uncommon for it to manifest itself as back pain, because instead of extension occuring from the hips, people tend to compensate by extending the spine instead, causing the back extensors to pick up the slack for the glutes.

Try this: get in the pool and do a warm up.  Get out of the water on the pool deck and perform a bridge for 3 holds of about 30 seconds each with 15-30 seconds rest between each.  In the middle of each hold, have someone push down on your hips for a count of 5 seconds.  After they let off the pressure on your hips, continue to push up for the rest of the 30 seconds.  Each time they let up, your hips should rise a little higher.  This should help activate your glutes while stretching your psoas.

Get back in the water and see if it makes a difference in your ability to extend your hips with your glutes to achieve a good balanced body position.

 




This^^^

Have you changed ANYTHING about your equipment-bike adjustments, new brand/model of shoe etc?

I had horrendous back pain while swimming(which led to horrible back pain running). Turned out that when I switched to a Cobb saddle, it opened my hip angle way up(a good thing), but my flexors were super tight for several weeks(I was so comfy on the saddle I was able to work alot higher intensity/speed but also be aero 98% of the time). It showed itself in my swimming and running. My fitter had also bumped my saddle back about 2cm. Once the flexors got used to the new set up through frequent riding and through bridges the pain disappeared really quickly.



Edited by LittleCat 2013-06-26 6:11 PM
2013-06-26 10:54 PM
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Subject: RE: Possible Swim Explanation, Possible Total Bunk (Hip-flexors and balance?)
Yeah, I've been thinking along the same lines. I haven't changed anything, but my only bike right now is using one of the spin cycles at the gym. I try to keep it as closely dialed in as possible, but it's never really the same setup twice. I've also just stepped up my intensity on the bike, so I figured that is getting me as much as anything.
2013-06-27 1:31 PM
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Subject: RE: Possible Swim Explanation, Possible Total Bunk (Hip-flexors and balance?)
I'll give the counter argument for balance(pardon the pun). This is not to say you got yourself some tight flexors. I just think that has little to do with it. I think that you just evolved your stroke into a rut. My experience has been that rarely are the hips to blame when your feet are dragging. As people get better at swimming they find tiny little things that work and make them faster. At first it's big things like breathing every 3, or lowering your head. Then the things get smaller, like hand position or shoulder rotation or effective kick. The problem comes in when someone has one of those "moments" and then puts way too much emphasis on it which has the opposite effect. Like the person to learns to extend better and feels that glide, then proceeds to glide too long which slows them down. Or the person who finds a groove when they breathe to one side and starts swimming faster, so they abandon the bilateral breathing altogether and acquire a horrible lopsided stroke and begin to get slower and slower.

So if you've bump your yardage and your kick doesn't suck, then I would suggest that you have altered your stroke slightly along the way and that alteration has taken up way more emphasis than what it should have. Do I know what it is? Not a clue. You could swim feet first for all I know. Throw out a video and we'll beat it up.



Edited by tjfry 2013-06-27 1:32 PM


2013-06-27 6:37 PM
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Subject: RE: Possible Swim Explanation, Possible Total Bunk (Hip-flexors and balance?)
This sounds totally plausible, and I'm pretty good at that over-analyzing bit. I had thought about this possibility first (before the flexor theory came into play), but I feel like even trying to focus on my back/core/hips/legs and getting things back up on the surface, they just aren't rising. Counterpoint-- when I do 100m kick alone, it works fine, which might speak to a stroke/focus issue more than a biomechanical. I'll try and get a camera and willing volunteer to the pool here in the next couple of days. Thanks for the offer!
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