Swimming Performance and Optimal Posture

My good friend and long term performance client Matt Targett emailed me the following link; How a curved spine can impair swimming velocity.

I really appreciate Matt sharing this article because it shows that all the work we have been doing on improving performance by being long, strong and coordinated in the pool is being understood and explored at multiple levels.

When Matt first came to see me he wanted to learn how to lengthen his neck and have better symmetry in his head rotation in order to breathe better for swimming.  Once we began to explore Dynamic Neuromuscular Stability (DNS) beyond this most obvious need, our time together and training opened up to allow this essential ability to lead learning in the other forms of training.

The above article outlines and details the societal and performance problem of an increase in thoracic kyphosis.  This non-preferred strategy has multiple causes and is a good example of the confusion and mixed messages that abound in the area of core stability.  If you have an increase in kyphosis you can guarantee that in order to feel strong you shorten your spinal length and ‘lock-down.’  This has many non-preferred ramifications in the sport of swimming.

The spine has 4 complementary curves starting at the bottom with a sacral kyphosis, lumbar lordosis, thoracic kyphosis and cervical lordosis.  The sacral curve fuses early in development and the remaining curves can alter their shape based on one’s stabilising strategy.  This term describes one’s inner understanding and appreciation of the perception of gravity as a field and a force. Our innate stability functions as an invitation to lengthen within this invisible informational field.  The term for this movement is axial extension.

The cervical spine has evolved primarily for rotation. The thoracic spine is in all three planes—transverse, frontal and sagittal—so it works in rotation, flexion and extension as well as side-bending. The lumbar spine primarily works in flexion and extension with a small capacity for rotation.

From a postural perspective, the occiput should ideally be in line with the apex of the thoracic kyphosis. When it is forward (which in almost all cases it is), it creates continuous muscular tension in the shoulder girdle, upper back and neck.

If we can restore thoracic mobility, through better understanding of deep system stability, it will take stress off the lumbar and cervical spine. The spinal uprighting = functional ideal. That’s how we start out. We can ideally maintain it through life, but we have been confused about the means.

Matt and I will be bringing you a comprehensive package of video coaching in True Core Stability for Swimming and PowerBand Training for Swimming Performance in the second half of this year.  Stay tuned!

Matt is swimming at Swimming World Championships in Barcelona in late July in 50m Butterfly and 100m Freestyle Relay.

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