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Swimmers-Why Training on Land Improves Performance in the Water

Dryland training… It’s a love-hate relationship for every swimmer. Believe it or not, building strength and power on land is just as crucial to improving race performance as logging yardage in the pool. Shoulder pain and overuse is the most common complaint for swimmers (and is the most common sports physical therapy injury we see in swimmers), often impacting their ability to continue to train at a high level. How can we train the shoulders on land before returning to the water? 

Shoulder Strength and Resilience 

It’s important for swimmers to have adequate strength and range of motion in the shoulders to tolerate the repetitive load of a 2 hour swim practice. The rotator cuff plays a major role in stabilizing the shoulder during overhead movements and producing power through the pull-down. Lift off drills such as this target rotator cuff muscle activation and tolerance at an end range of motion. Once you’ve mastered the previous drill, overhead pressing variations like this and kettlebell stabilizing drills such as this will encourage you to recruit the larger muscles of your trunk and core to create resiliency overhead. 

Full Body Power 

However, swimming is a full body workout! It’s important to incorporate elements of full body power into your workout to prevent injuries when you’re racing or training at high speeds. Overhead medicine ball passes are a great functional exercise to challenge your overhead strength and full body stabilization in a dynamic environment. Progress this to a full medicine ball slam to further mimic the pull-through portion of your stroke, no water needed! 

Photo Credit

swimmer” by Pierce Presley is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Try this to improve your hip and trunk mobility

Who doesn’t want to loosen up their hips and trunk while building strong hamstrings and glutes?!

It is common to encounter youth athletes and active adults in athletic physical therapy and injury rehabilitation settings who have tight posterior hips and stiff rib cages. This limits the amount of rotation that they available through the trunk and reduces mobility in a variety of different directions within the hips.

As a result, more stress is placed onto the lower back, knees, and other areas of the body. Overuse injuries often follow that send people to physical therapy, including general lower back pain, lumbar disc injuries, knee arthritis, meniscus injuries, etc.

The good news is that the root causes of these kinds of injuries can be addressed and often do not require a boring home exercise program.

The Single Leg RDL (Romanian Deadlift) is a fantastic drill that you can implement into your workout routine to improve your hip/trunk mobility and strengthen your glutes/hamstrings.

This drill is particularly powerful for rotational athletes like golfers, tennis players, lacrosse players, and hockey players.

We typically start our patients and training clients with the kickstand version of the Single Leg RDL before progressing to the more advanced versions below.

Kickstand RDL (front leg emphasis)

Kickstand RDL with Foot on Wall

The key with these activities is to ensure that you feel the back of your hip, glute, and hamstring working (on the working leg), while also feeling your abs working. You should not be feeling your lower back at any point during the drill.

Are you interested in learning more ways that you can adjust your exercise program to correct old injuries, improve your performance and/or stay pain free? If so, simply contact us!

An Essential Part of Athletic Physical Therapy: Strength Training for Runners

Many of the runners that we work with at CHP supplement their running with strength training. Strength training is a large component of athletic physical therapy and provides a host of benefits including, but not limited to; reduced injury risk, increased muscular endurance, and faster running times. Research shows that regular strength training improves a runner’s speed and VO2 max. VO2 max is a measure of the maximal amount of oxygen that a person can use during exercise.

However, there is one important caveat to all of these great benefits. A runner’s strength training program must be designed and executed appropriately, and according to the runner’s goals and individual characteristics.

Luckily, most runners have similar goals. They wish to run faster and/or farther, and avoid injury.

Strength training programs for runners should consist of exercises that improve qualities specific to running.

When running, there is never a time when both feet are touching the ground simultaneously. The arms and legs are constantly moving in opposite and alternating directions as the body transitions from one foot to the other.

Therefore, we commonly advocate for runners to include more single leg exercises into their training.

These exercises include, but are not limited to: lunges, single leg squats, split squats, and single leg RDLs (Romanian deadlifts). Simply adding one of these activities into each of your strength training sessions can have a large impact. Take a look at the videos below for examples of these activities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aazACzyUR-Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK05iugeIDE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjDtPek261c

Furthermore, runners should not neglect upper body training. Arm drive is an essential component of running and helps to drive leg action. An effective runner cannot have one without the other!

A thoughtful and more scientific approach to strength training, specifically designed for runners, may be all that is needed to drastically improve your running performance.

Fact or Fiction: Do our bodies actually fall out of alignment?

We are excited to begin a series of posts discussing common myths in the realm of athletic physical therapy. Today’s myth commonly applies to back pain physical therapy as well.

Many of our patients have been told that their body may be “out of alignment”, or that their joints need to be “re-aligned.” Unfortunately, this is not the greatest advice.

Human beings are never in a static position. Even at rest, the simple act of breathing creates movement. By definition, being in alignment means that our bodies are in a straight line, or that all parts of our body are consistently in the appropriate relative positions to one another.

We cannot consistently be in alignment because we are always moving. If our body was constantly aligned, we would be unable to move anywhere.

Your body can feel as if it is out of alignment when you overuse or rely upon specific movement strategies or body positions. This can happen for a myriad of reasons and results in feelings of stiffness and discomfort that often temporarily feel better with an adjustment.

An adjustment can be helpful if the causes of stiffness or discomfort are also addressed. The root causes of stiffness or discomfort are typically addressed by focusing on movement limitations that are present.

Any relief provided by an adjustment will be temporary when the root cause of the discomfort or stiffness is left unaddressed. Check out the article below for some activities that may help!

3 Home Exercises to Help Your Back Pain

We hope that this provided some insight into a common rehab myth. Stay tuned for more to come!