Swimming is like any exercise – there is always room for improvement. Many of us learn specific techniques which take us further along our experiential and prowess routes. There are however, some wonderful principles around connected movement that are really, natural laws – they are how we are designed to move. Yet many of us have unlearned our natural movements and learnt techniques that quite often ignore those natural laws. I have already posted an article on using reflex breathing to get air into your lungs much faster than most other ways. If it’s not working for you, do persevere: it really does work and it works incredibly well!
Here is the article: Pucker Your Lips.
In this post I’ll focus on structure.
We are made up of complex tensegrity structures called Anatomy Trains. These are functional combinations of bone, muscle, sinew and supporting tissues and fluids. The natural law that applies here is that the strength of a structure comes from its tension, not from its compression.
Structural integrity in movement away from your body is led by tension in the periphery. In the case of your arm – it’s your hand. The rest of your arm should be as relaxed as possible as the muscles in it add little to its most effective structure, but do make you more tired. Specifically for crawl – your hand should be loosely tensioned with a slight curve across the back of your hand and down your fingers. There is a another twist to this – literally – as your arm extends out from your body you will find it will naturally twist. On the outward movement this twist should be instigated from the hand . As your reach full extension the twist will continue. But now it should come from the root of your arm – by rolling your shoulder.
Extension and Contraction
At this point the movement changes from extension to contraction. The rule for contraction is that the tension comes from the root or anchor, which is in this case your shoulder. For best efficiency your arm should be structured but relaxed and this brings in another couple of principles: applying indirect and internal power. You should be able to feel some of the muscles that act on your arm fairly easily – your lats. They are an indirect power source as they are not in your arm – your biceps and triceps would, for example be direct power sources, but in crawl they are used more for positioning the arm than powering it.
If this interests you, there are a lot more principles, natural laws and power sources that you can make use of. There are many articles in mindfully-connected.com and a book on it if you want to really understand what you are capable of. Enjoy!