The number 1 swimming injury! Aside from being a click-baity title, which we fully admit, are you curious yet? Maybe you already know what it is. (Hint: it's not related to twerking or any such sort of thing).

Duh-nuh-nuh! SHOULDER OVERSTRESS AND IMPINGEMENT! On Oct 29, local Physical Therapist Andrew Walker (of PhysioWorks Huntsville) and I had the great privilege to do a seminar on this at a terrific running and multisport store in town, Fleet Feet Huntsville.

Andrew talked for several minutes about the anatomical structures that make the shoulder unique to all joints, and I discussed the four main swimming stroke flaws that can lead to the condition. 

The most common stroke flaws that stress the shoulder are (drum roll please):
  • Thumb-first hand entry (thumb-first entry leads to impingement; hand should enter with middle-finger first)
  • Digging for clams (or down-pressing - after entry, want the elbow to bend to face forearm backward instead of pressing directly down)
  • Wide S-pull (some S-shape in the underwater pull is ok, but a very wide scull at the beginning will load the shoulder too much)
  • Crossing over (letting the arm drift across the center line either at hand entry or underwater during the pull will encourage impingement)
Each of these stroke flaws increases the load on our shoulder muscles in such a way that our poor little shoulders cannot handle it. Either there is too high a stressor on them, or the stress is in the wrong direction, leading to impingement in the joints. 

If you couldn't make it to the seminar, there is a neat e-book you can always access online, here
E-books, yayyy, no papercuts! Feel free to send questions or comment here!

POOL GEAR MAKES ME WANT TO DO SOMETHING. But not in the way that you might think. See, I've just dropped a slim $20 on a new type of swim paddles (see left). Yayyyy! Tidbits of retail happiness! Buy all the things! 

Yes, I do feel all cool now (what, I wasn't cool before?) and I do feel more motivated to go to the pool to try them out and thus beat the inevitable winter inertia. But more importantly, new pool gear makes me want to do something different in my swimming. 

New stuff gives me inspiration for interesting sets to plan for myself in the pool. Sure, I could get in and swim a hundred miles straight every time I get in, but, hellooooo, I would rather do multi-level story problems hanging from my toenails in Alcatraz. I am reminded of my least favorite set, courtesy of one of my high school swimming coaches, the late and beloved Howie Auer: 8 x 1000 freestyle. When he would write that on the board, I wanted to shoot myself with a water gun and sink to the bottom. 

(I am not going to deny that I did not write all of his yearly sets down and predict when that set would occur and therefore skip practice on that day. I am not going to deny that at all. And I am not even going to deny sharing my list with my fellow teammates. And I am really not going to deny also going to the local ice cream shop (the inimitable Young's Dairy, can I get a witness!!?) and Glen Helen trails to frolic and enjoy the spoils of our supposed intelligence. Oops.)

Maybe it's my social-media induced short attention span, but nowadays when I plan a workout, I want FUN! I want different strokes, paces, strokes, breaths, etc, etc. And the swim research is showing that race pace training actually is more beneficial (fodder for another blog). So I guess if shaking things up with new paddles allows me to bury the water gun, I suppose I can part with a few bucks.

Good day Sweaters and Swimmers! Today, we are going to chat about one of the technological advances of our age. Ok, maybe of an age that has been here for awhile... THE MIRACLE OF UNDERWATER VIDEO.  Since the dawn of celluloid film, underwater video analysis has been one of the secret tricks of the swimming trade. However, it's not always been an easy (or cheap) trick.

When I was a youngster... (and here you need to say this part in a crotchety voice), "When I was a youngster, if we wanted to see underwater video, the pool had to have an underwater window that you crawled down into through some kind of sketchy trapdoor staircase, plus you had to have an over-the-shoulder VHS camera so that you could be filmed like a salmon in a fish ladder.  Your coach had to be brave enough to crawl through the spiders and the dank mold in order to have even a peep of the mystical underwater world. Then, once you were filmed, you had to sit there and freeze to death while your coach pointed out your stroke flaws and tried not to get electrocuted by all the wires on the pool deck. And don't even talk to me about making a copy to keep. That will be an extra $200 so that we can buy a VHS copying machine."

Well, 1990 self, here's what I have to say to that. Just a few choice words. Go-Pro. IPhone. Youtube. 

So, see? We should be so lucky.

But why be filmed at all?

For one thing, you would absolutely not believe what you can see. It is crazy! There are arms and legs flailing everywhere, there are bubbles flying. There are feet bopping here, there, and yonder. Whenever I am filmed, it reminds me a lot of those traffic cameras that take your picture when you are speeding. "Officer, there is NO WAY that is me. Oh wait, you have a PICTURE? Ok, yeah, I guess that was me." I can't hide with underwater video. It is all there in living color for me, ready or not! :)

Most interestingly, oftentimes I think I am doing something, when in fact I am doing the exact opposite thing. Even more often, I think I am doing something a LOT, when in fact I am barely doing that thing at all. Still don't believe me? See an example video analysis of me here. (If you can't critique yourself, you can't critique anyone). 

So you want to be an mermaid/merman in perpetuity? It's $55, and all you have to do is give me a call, and we'll set up a time to meet and film you (or you can even send a youtube link if you don't live anywhere near me), and you'll get a private annotated video that only you can see. 

Just get ready with your alibi.