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View Full Version : Stiff neck, shortness of breath & why this drill anyway?



Gills
October 30th, 2008, 02:22 AM
Hi all,
I'm an older swimmer, just getting back after a 43 yr layoff, and way out of shape (won't go into why).
Anyway, the other day, the coach had us doing a drill in which we were to glide with our arms, holding each out (the glide part) while counting to two before continuing the stroke and doing the same with the other arm. We were to kick, same as usual. At one point, she had us hold our heads straight up out of the water when it came time to breathe rather than turn to the side the usual way. I found it impossible to hold my head up high enough, due to stiffness in that part of the spine, I think, to be out of the water enough to take a breath.

Anyway, I have two questions. First of all, what do you think is the purpose of this drill, and is there any exercise that will help to get my neck muscles limber enough to bend my head straight back so that I can do this exercise correctly? To compensate for the stiffness, I was having to bring my whole body out of the water in order not to drown! Haha!

Does anyone have a website to recommend that explains the purpose of all the drills?

Also, where could I find something about stretches and warm-ups?

My biggest problem is getting too short of breath early during practice, but if I go too long, I start to feel better in the water toward the end of an hour of hard working out, but the next day or two, I'm too exhausted to do anything.

I'm thinking that perhaps I should go back to working out on my own for a while for maybe 30 minutes at a stretch. just swimming, just until I can keep up with these "kids" the whole practice session without ruining the rest of my life.

is that I only have so much time, and on my own when I'm able to go, I don't want to get stuck waiting for a lane to be open which is what often happens when I'm not with the "team" which has a set time for practice. Anyone else have this problem? I'm afraid that my occasional stops will interfere with the faster swimmers in my lane or possibly even cause a collision.

In reality, I have to discipline myself NOT to swim too long at a workout because I love the way I feel at the time. Any ideas to prevent the exhaustion from some of you late bloomers out there? Surely I'm not the only one to experience this. I don't remember ever being tired but a few minutes after a workout when I was in my teens. The soreness I would expect, however, but I didn't experience that that recall, even when I competed back then, which may be unusual, even at that young age.

Thanks for reading all this.
Sincerely, Fins
Any ideas on all this would certainly be welcome.

Ripple
October 30th, 2008, 10:39 AM
Hi all,
...At one point, she had us hold our heads straight up out of the water when it came time to breathe rather than turn to the side the usual way. I found it impossible to hold my head up high enough, due to stiffness in that part of the spine, I think, to be out of the water enough to take a breath.

Anyway, I have two questions. First of all, what do you think is the purpose of this drill, and is there any exercise that will help to get my neck muscles limber enough to bend my head straight back so that I can do this exercise correctly?...

It almost sounds like a sighting drill for open water swimming, but there would be no need to breath while doing that. Usually just the eyes come above the surface, take a quick "snapshot" of the surroundings and then the head goes down again. The only other thing that comes to mind is water polo. Why not ask the coach what the purpose is?

norascats
November 1st, 2008, 07:23 PM
First of all, Congratulations for getting back into the water after such a long layoff. It may be a while before you get comfortable with what you can do at this time. And getting into swimming condition takes time.
As an older swimmer, I can identify with your frustration. We need to use technique instead of strength and energy.
I'd try to get in the lane with the slower swimmers, your coach should be able to help you with this. If you need to stop and rest do it. Get into the corner of the lane and motion the faster ones by.
As to the head lifting drill, if you can't do it, just do what you can and keep swimming. You'll get a lot from the drills. I'd rather just swim. But I'm not getting the improvement in skill without them. And at my age one bad habit costs a lot.

anita
November 1st, 2008, 11:37 PM
In my opinion, ANY movement that causes pain (especially in the neck and spine) should not be done, unless your coach is willing to pay for a chiropractor.

hofffam
November 2nd, 2008, 10:52 AM
I have no idea what that drill is supposed to do. I do not see how it can improve your freestyle. You NEVER breathe front in freestyle. And in strokes like breaststroke or fly your front breathing occurs when you have more speed than you get in a drill like that. Lifting your head up causes a very heavy part of your body out of the water - which forces the rest of your body to sink.

Because this is Masters, and we can do what we want (!), I would not do that drill breathing front. With side breathing it sounds like an exagerrated catchup drill.

hnatkin
November 2nd, 2008, 01:50 PM
Why don't you just ask the coach?

Big AL
November 3rd, 2008, 12:14 AM
Sounds like the standard "catch up" drill. One stroke on one side, when the hand gets to the top, pause, begin the second stroke on the other side. I don't recommend breathing to the front on this drill. Breath to the side normally. My neck is bad too, and if stuff hurts don't do it.

Typhoons Coach
November 4th, 2008, 12:01 PM
Sounds like the standard "catch up" drill. One stroke on one side, when the hand gets to the top, pause, begin the second stroke on the other side. I don't recommend breathing to the front on this drill. Breath to the side normally. My neck is bad too, and if stuff hurts don't do it.

Could definitely be a variation of the catch up drill since the traditional drill doesn't call for a pause when the hands meet. It could also be a variation of the six beat switch drill. Either way, I don't coach conventionally and I wouldn't suggest those two drills in their traditional format. Peronsally, I would suggest that you speak with your coach and ask him/her what drills they practice and why. Let them know that you want to be as transparent as possible and get as much knowledge as possible (a little sucking up never hurts getting information). After you get that bit of info out of the coaching staff report back here and we'll nitpick at it.

With regard to the stretching, make sure that you get the blood flowing into those muscles prior to stretching (a light warmup will do the trick either on dry land or in water). While you do the stretching, try to make the movements as fluid and non-jerky as possible. With regard to neck stretches, neck rolls are not suggested anymore even though I still do them...