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View Full Version : Flip Turns = Knee Pain?



hoodoo7
April 2nd, 2010, 05:09 PM
Hi,
Sorry if this has been discussed already in other threads:

My coach has been having me incorporate flip turns more and more into my workouts (I just learned how to do them a few months ago). The last couple of weeks were pretty intense in that I did flip turns for all long distance swims.

I am now noticing my knees are really bothering me and it's difficult to walk up and down stairs. So I stopped doing the flip turns so much and my knees are feeling better.

Question: have you experienced this same issue? If so, any suggestions for my flip turn form to prevent overtaxing of the knees? Also: do you know of any exercises I can do outside of the pool to strengthen the muscles around my knees so I can go back to doing flip turns all the time?

Thanks in advance for your input ...

orca1946
April 2nd, 2010, 06:06 PM
Are you twisting as you leave the wall ?
Are you too close or far from the wall ?
Did they hurt with open turns ?

hoodoo7
April 2nd, 2010, 06:34 PM
Are you twisting as you leave the wall ?
Yes, that's a possiblity.

Are you too close or far from the wall ?
Yes, most definitely - consistency with the turns hasn't been achieved yet.

Did they hurt with open turns ?
Note that my knees don't hurt while doing the flip turns. The pain is noticeable when I am on land, walking, on an uphill/downhill, etc.

Why I think the flip turns are the issue: I am not normally crouched into a ball and then leaping out of that position. It's something 'new' for my legs/knees. That's why I was asking about exercises that can be done outside of the pool to prepare my muscles for the deman of the flip turn.

Thanks!

Allen Stark
April 2nd, 2010, 07:42 PM
Sounds like your legs are too bent as you start your push off from the wall.They should be no more bent than from a open turn and your knee angle should be about 90 degrees.If your knees are too bent it puts too much strain on the knees(which is why deep knee bends are no longer a recommended exercise.)

SolarEnergy
April 2nd, 2010, 08:04 PM
I am now noticing my knees are really bothering me and it's difficult to walk up and down stairs. So I stopped doing the flip turns so much and my knees are feeling better.

Question: have you experienced this same issue? Yes indeed. I am a far worst case than you though. Several things in the pool can indeed harm my knees. Push offs are among them.

Now let us remain logical. You have to push off no matter if you flip or open turn. So you have to look for the differences between your flip and open turns.

Few things (most having already been mentioned). Maybe when you open turn, you actually take the time to place your feet against the wall before pushing *hard*. Your feet are probably well anchored then comes the explosive squat.

When you flip, maybe that you start pushing hard before your feet even touch the wall. That explosive squat becomes a plyometric squat. If you give your feet velocity before the feet even touch the wall, and that your feet touch the wall heel first, a lot of energy is being absorbed by your knees. Feet move from say 2meter/second to 0meter/second and that energy is transferred to push the body through the water during the push off.

On top of that, like ocra mentioned, if you twist... and if you sometimes (lack of experience) end up too close to the wall then push before feet touch the wall twisting during the push off, it's a good recipe for recurrent knee injury.

First things first, perform the flip very slowly. No splash when your leg enter in the water. Gently place your feet against the wall THEN start pushing. Learn the flip turn slowly. If you need to throw some speed during its execution, that means you aren't learning it the right way. Imagine you have two noddlers chatting with just enough room to put both feet between their heads. Good flipper can turn without even scaring up the noddlers. They shouldn't be splashed. Always flip with this level of care during the learning process.

hoodoo7
April 3rd, 2010, 12:32 AM
Thanks, everyone, for the excellent input and suggestions. I like the idea of 'slowing down' my turn and re-evaluate what I am doing. My coach did tell me I am crouching down even further when my feet hit the wall (like a spring), versus immediately pushing off - am sure my knees are complaining for good reason ... glad it's the weekend and I can give them a little recovery time.

These forums are awesome!

aquaFeisty
April 3rd, 2010, 09:36 AM
Hi Hoodoo7!

Everyone has given great advice re: making your turns hurt your knees as little as possible. Most likely, once you make sure you're not twisting and bending past 90 degrees, your pain will go away.

In your original post, though, you also asked for some knee strengthening exercises. I am in a similar boat to Solar wrt to crappy knees that hurt from pushoffs, breast kick, and other stuff in the pool. Here's some of the exercises I do for general knee health. In a perfect world, I'd do these daily, but...

Strengthening Exercises

Side walk: Put a loop of theraband/tubing around your ankles. The loop should be sized such that when your feet are shoulder width apart, there is some tension. Side step back and forth across the room. You can do this both in the athletic pose (knees bent to maybe 30 deg-ish) and with straight legs. Keep your upper body still... don't sway back and forth to build momentum. If you're doing it right, by the time you finish you will feel like someone is sticking a red-hot poker into the sides of your butt.

Clams: See link. Much better than me trying to explain it. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/cybertherapist/back/buttocks/piriform/piriformistrength.php

Ball against the wall squat: Put a yoga ball behind your back against a wall, bend down to a 90 deg bend at the knees and hold. This is a good quad builder if using a typical gym quad machine puts too much stress on your knees.

Wall push: Sit on a bench or sideways chair against the wall. Ideally, your knees are at 90 deg and your back is touching the wall. Feet are flat on the floor. Using one leg at a time, push yourself backwards into the wall (like you're trying to pushing yourself through the wall).

Plus, pretty much any core exercise (like plank, etc.... see Fortress' blog, hahaha) is good for the knees. Strong core = strong foundation for the knees.

Stretching: Especially if you sit down for large portions of the day, your ham/quad flexibility (and other muscles around the knee) can get out of whack. Here's some of the main ones to hit:

Calves
On a slant-board if you have access to one; leaning against the wall with one leg behind you; or in the pool against the wall with your heels on the bottom, toes up on the wall, and pulling in towards the gutter - straight leg hits calve, bent knee moves the stretch more towards your achilles). http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/flexibilityandstretching/qt/Calf-Stretch.htm

Hamstrings
Stretch your hamstrings one at a time, bending down, lying on your back pulling them towards you with a rope, sitting on a bench/table with one leg down - whatever works best for you. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/flexibilityandstretching/ss/Hamstringstretch.htm

Quads
Stretch your quads in the usual way standing and grabbing your toe, making sure that from your shoulder to knee is a straight line, http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/flexibilityandstretching/qt/Quad-Stretch.htm. If this method hurts (it does me), try lying on your stomach on a table/bench (I use a PT table at the gym, our coffee table at home), with the non-stretching leg down off the table and reaching around for the other leg. By locking the one leg down you can get a decent stretch without having to bend at the knee so much.

Piriformis muscles. These always feel oh so good. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/flexibilityandstretching/qt/Piriformis_str.htm You can get a good stretch in the pool by doing the lying stretch described there but with the 'lifted' foot up against the wall and the other foot on the opposite knee. Pull in using the gutter and kind of push your butt towards the pool bottom.

I have no background in PT, medicine or anatomy so hopefully these descriptions make some sense. :) Good luck!

hoodoo7
April 3rd, 2010, 04:50 PM
Thanks, aquaFeisty/Carrie, for the great list of exercises. I have done a lot of these types of exercises previously during workouts (but am not religious about doing them, so now I suffer). So I will need to get myself back into a routine of doing several of them during the week.

On a side note: I find I am sometimes falling into the 'cult' of swimming, meaning I give up a lot of my workout time to swimming, versus a more balanced schedule (ex: spinning class followed by weight training and stretching, etc. on non-swim days) It's like swimming is a 'fix' I need to have to keep improving and not losing ground, so I make excuses to go almost every day. So: how do you balance it?

Allen Stark
April 3rd, 2010, 06:17 PM
Thanks, aquaFeisty/Carrie, for the great list of exercises. I have done a lot of these types of exercises previously during workouts (but am not religious about doing them, so now I suffer). So I will need to get myself back into a routine of doing several of them during the week.

On a side note: I find I am sometimes falling into the 'cult' of swimming, meaning I give up a lot of my workout time to swimming, versus a more balanced schedule (ex: spinning class followed by weight training and stretching, etc. on non-swim days) It's like swimming is a 'fix' I need to have to keep improving and not losing ground, so I make excuses to go almost every day. So: how do you balance it?

Sad to say I don't think we are ones to ask about balance,that would be something like "balancedlife.org" if it exists.As swimmers we are a single minded lot,and with good reason as swimming is the perfect sport IMHO and the purpose of lifting weights etc.is to swim faster.

aquaFeisty
April 6th, 2010, 10:35 AM
I think Allen nailed it when he said we are not the right group to ask! I have 2 small kids, so my gym time is extremely limited. Thus, any gym time I get is dedicated to swimming, usually 1 hour 3-4x/week. If I have time after swimming, I try to do my knee PT exercises. Usually, though, I have to rush home so I try to do the PT exercises after the kids go to bed. I do drylands/strength in my living room with a yoga ball, free weights, and stretch cords... the drylands are done during naptime for the baby and I shoot for twice a week.

Last time I ran or biked was last June during a triathlon. I actually made a deal with my knees in the middle of the race that if they'd let me finish, I wouldn't run again until after next scy season. I'll start running and biking again after IL States (last weekend in April) and then probably abruptly stop after the June triathlon. hahaha.