SWIM INJURY FREE
Man Tri’s Kate Offord uncovers one of the key reasons for swimming injury and reveals its fix
Correct your stroke and you can avoid injury and increase speed.
Many athletes come to triathlon as accomplished runners or cyclists, but many are relatively new to swimming. A lack of swimming over the years brings with it two potential sources of injury: • A sudden increase in training volume • Technique flaws Many thousands of repetitions are performed during a swim session. Take the example of an athlete who swims 20 strokes per 25m, 2.5k a session, three times each week: That’s 72,000 strokes over three months!
It doesn’t take long to compound a flaw and increase the risk of injury. At Manchester Triathlon Club we subscribe to the Swim Smooth directive and from the culmination of thousands of hours of video analysis and coaching, it identifies five common stroke flaws that can lead to injury: 1) Crossing over the midline on entry 2) Thumb first entry 3) Straight arm catch and pull through 4) Excessive flick at exit 5) Poor body rotation Here, we focus on crossing over the midline on entry. This is often caused by what we can describe as the ‘21st Century posture’. This culminates from many hours spent using tablets, driving, computers and tri bars. These activities can lead to postural changes; the shoulders become rounded, and rounded shoulders can produce a crossover on entry.
In water, every action has an equal and opposite reaction: as the water is pushed backwards it sends a swimmer forwards. The same applies when water is not pushed backwards; it still sends you in the opposite direction.
CROSSING OVER THE MIDLINE
• The athlete initially pushes the water outwards before directing it back. • This decreases efficiency and slows the swimmer down, causing pressure in the shoulder. • This becomes most obvious in the open water as often triathletes will drift off course, swimming further than they need to. Long term, this can lead to shoulder impingement injuries.
IN LINE WITH THE SHOULDER
• The athlete’s middle finger will enter in line with their shoulder. • The push on the water is then drawn backwards towards their hip. • This reduces the stress on the shoulder, and sends the swimmer forward.