Man Tri’s Kate Of­ford un­cov­ers one of the key rea­sons for swim­ming in­jury and re­veals its fix

Triathlon Plus - - Contents -

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.


• 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.


• 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.

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