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Monday, October 09, 2017

Swimming ... for Stiffness ?

Every Sunday for the past few weeks, I have spent at least 45 minutes swimming a mile, or rather 1600 metres, in the lanes at the pool. (Yes, indoors. Yuk! I know). I've been using a combination of my fairly smooth-but-steady breast stroke and a lumpy form of freestyle. Among other things I've been trying to get the latter more coordinated and sustainable.

If I take a deep breath, I might now manage 4x25m freestyle, but then I get puffed and have revert to breast stroke (which I can do indefinitely, it seems). The development is as much about stroke coordination/efficiency as cardio response and body strength. Freestyle (front crawl), when it's broken down, has got about 43 discrete micro-actions, each of which can be done wrong in 11 ways and correctly in one or two. So there's all that theory, experiment, proprioception and observation to do. And there's the physical infrastructure. Lungs and muscles take several weeks and a range of Sunday lunches to change from state A to state B. This all takes dedication and patience. Taken together it's a nice mixture of challenges. Eventually I'd like to be able to do big chunk (1000 m?) of continuous freestyle without having to hold on to the ropes or sinking to the bottom. 

Results? Apart from aches in parts of my shoulders that don't get used in the office, and perhaps a bit of general tone, I've noticed another less welcome effect. My legs seem to be 25 years older! For example, rather than springing out of the sofa during the ad break, I'm tempted to relax and enjoy the show. "Ah yes, that's an amazing whiter white, even on grass stains!". When I do get up (it feels like "out" of a huge gravity well), one leg turns into a block of wood and I hobble uncontrollably towards the screen. Hmm, I might also try a tiny bit of stretching, or even yoga. It might help, you never know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Matt - of course I am a rubbish swimmer, so what do I know ... but watching the teaching of my children and of my son in particular who really got the hang of it, there is an incredible economy of action when your technique is good. Also a key feature seems to be to go a bit slower than you thought. I was motivated to make this comment as it was exactly the advice you gave me last century about my running. Steve W