We work with a lot of good junior swimmers at Results FAST.
As we tend to specialize in shoulder and back care with these individuals it’s not surprising that of each of the junior athletes we have seen have some form of back or shoulder complaint or injury.
Simply said if your out of pool programme is not complimenting your swim programme and you are still in pain after 6 weeks either you could be on your way to surgery and you are not getting better.
The sole focus of training is that it is practice to get better, land training is no different and provides an accompaniment to the work being done in the pool. That doesn’t mean imposing a more vigorous approach to training- it means using knowledge and the art of coaching to know how to programme, when to push and more importantly when to step back.
Out of the pool we want to maintain sufficient mobility and strength to aid performance and maintain structural strength and the avoidance of injuries.
Simply- it is not about stroke correction, it is not about sport specific training drills.
It is about creating the best framework for athletic performance in the pool.
Broadly speaking when we see new athletes they exist in four categories.
1. Long but tight muscles and existing in a fatigued state. Poor structural stability at the shoulder and lower back. Not recovering well from training volume, chronic injuries or constantly aching backs and shoulders.
2. Mobile with poor stability, often weak on gym tests. On the edge of injury if training volume increases and they do not have the structural strength to deal with the increased training load.
3. Mobile in the right areas but with slight issues related to their posture dependent upon their dominant stroke.
4. Breast strokers- simply their postural issues in the lower body and lower back are different to those who do not do as much training volume in this stroke.
So how do we deal with each case?
Often it’s not a straight in to train approach as assessment will determine programme. Initially there are two goals establish safe range of movement and improve tissue quality. Now this can be an issue if someone is in the pool for 16 hours a week so a lot of the time some individuals may need more out of pool work than others.
Once we have a suitable range of movement (which often in the injured we do not have) which is pain free we can look to create stability through movement. Again not usually an issue for those with no injuries but with those who are moving poorly or who indeed are coming back from an injury then this is tantamount to future progress.
At the last point we consider loading the athlete- strength in essence is the last thing we add to the mix. Why? When someone has high training volume then adding more strength and repetition in on top of training can be counterintuitve to the overall goals.
We need to clean up and educate correct movement before loading. This really has little to do with pool work but ultimately the postural cues and strength work in the right areas feed back in to swimming form and will help remedy any poor movement patterns.
So each individual is similar in the pool work that they undertake but the methods to support consistency in the pool are personal.
Tissue quality, joint range and strength training are prescribed as neccesary and as an accompaniment to enhanced performance- if one is compromised in one then performance decrements will be seen.