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View Full Version : Is Lope-sided a problem?



fireguard
September 1st, 2005, 06:27 PM
Hi all, this problem has bothered me quite a long time. I have keep swimming for almost one year. I always breath to my right side. Recently I tried to breath to both sides. It is really hard to break the old habit. Finally I can breath to both sides (breath once per three strokes). But still there are problems. I can't do breathing once per two strokes to my left side (to right side it is ok). I will feel tired quickly if I do that. Also when I do the breathing to both sides (breath once per three strokes), there is an obvious diffence between the two sides. Breathing to my right side, there is a powerful thrust (at least I think so) when my right hand enters the water after finishing the breath. While breathing to my left side, there is nothing like that. So now I am confused, should I keep on working to make both sides equal, which I feel is almost impossible, or go back to the old way? If I go back to my old way, will it cause any problem? i.e. distorted spine, which is horrible.

Sorry for my nasty English.

Paul Smith
September 1st, 2005, 06:44 PM
Being as imbalanced as you are you are very prone to developing some shoulder problems long term.

Although my natural stroke/breathing pattern is left side.....I spend a fair amount of workout time alternate breathing by lap (left side down, righ side back) with a focus on stroke count being equal.

When it comes to quality/speed sets and/or competition I still stay left side only as it has a more natural rythym fr me (and a bit of a lope).

PeirsolFan
September 1st, 2005, 11:20 PM
I'm amazed at how many people don't understand this.

Bi-lateral breathing is important, as Paul stated, because you're setting yourself up for some serious shoulder injuries. Bi-lateral means you breath on your left side and your right side typically alternating every 3 strokes.

When your breathing becomes dominant on one side your stroke becomes very uneven. The more even your stroke is the better you will become at streamlining and rotation. You will eventually become much much faster.

It will feel strange and sometimes impossible for quite some time, but that's why the "1 arm stroke drill" was created. Work at it. When you aren't in the pool, try to use your other hand while doing tasks. That will help.

knelson
September 2nd, 2005, 12:32 AM
Ideally your stroke should probably be balanced, but in reality it isn't that big of a deal. Some of the greatest swimmers in history have had decidedly assymetric "loping" strokes. I'm thinking of people like Tom Dolan, Janet Evans, Pieter van den Hoogenband, even Michael Phelps.

Increased shoulder injuries? I don't think having a loping stroke alone causes shoulder injuries. Poor biomechanics during the catch phase are the thing to be careful about. Maybe there's more of a risk with an assymetric stroke, I don't really know for sure.

Paul Smith
September 2nd, 2005, 04:07 PM
Kirk, one sided breathing typically does result in poor mechanics depending on how exagerated it is and where in the strok cycle th breath takes place.

What typically happens is that the opposite arm from your breathing side "drifts" slightly out to compensate which can effect the catch......I know and have two surgeries to vouch for it!

I'm still a beleiver however in having a rythmic feel and will alwaysy breath only to one side most of the time in training and in races.

What I focus on in training is making sure that the length and catch are as equal as possible...that's why I never breath every 3 or 5 but rather by lap.

gull
September 2nd, 2005, 04:51 PM
I like the catch up drill, breathing to my weaker side. This drill accomplishes two things: it emphasizes kicking through each breath as well as making the stroke more symmetric by breathing to the opposite side. I find alternate breathing (every third stroke) during major sets too difficult. Finally, during warmdown I try to breathe to my opposite (weaker) side, concentrating on a long smooth stroke. For some reason it's a lot easier by that point in the workout.

jim clemmons
September 2nd, 2005, 05:12 PM
What I focus on in training is making sure that the length and catch are as equal as possible...that's why I never breath every 3 or 5 but rather by lap. Paul Smith

I too, practice freestyle breathing bilaterally alternating by lap which side I breathe on.

Since most of my time is spent in the end lane of the deep end of our pool, I breathe towards the opposite end of the pool by lap. In other words, left side going down, right side coming back, always breathing towards the shallow end.

Besides, who wants to look at the wall.;)

Usually during competition, or a harder than usual set, 98%+ of the breaths will be taken on my right side only.

geochuck
September 2nd, 2005, 07:02 PM
Let's get off this bilateral kick, It is only a drill as far as I am concerned, a drill to give balance. The great swimmers nearly always breathe on one side or the other. I can breathe either side, I can bilateral breathe, but in a race I always breathe on the left side, I get too tired bilateral breathing.

Blue Horn
September 2nd, 2005, 07:34 PM
I am with geochuck on this one.

Hook'em
Blue

Allen Stark
September 2nd, 2005, 11:22 PM
Balanced swimming is easier on your shoulders. To practice it without worring about breathing try a center-mount snorkle if you can get one.(they are also good in helping maintain face down head position as well as good body position while kicking.)

PeirsolFan
September 3rd, 2005, 06:20 PM
Originally posted by knelson
Ideally your stroke should probably be balanced, but in reality it isn't that big of a deal. Some of the greatest swimmers in history have had decidedly assymetric "loping" strokes. I'm thinking of people like Tom Dolan, Janet Evans, Pieter van den Hoogenband, even Michael Phelps.

Janet Evans was a bilateral breather. She also had/has moderate Scoliosis (spinal curvature) which would account for imbalances. Most people are not built like and cannot perform like Olympic athletes. An "us and them" comparison is not reasonable. There will be rare exceptions.


Increased shoulder injuries? I don't think having a loping stroke alone causes shoulder injuries. Poor biomechanics during the catch phase are the thing to be careful about. Maybe there's more of a risk with an assymetric stroke, I don't really know for sure.

Swimmer's shoulder, one of the most common complaints, is fairly basic in it's cause: overuse.

knelson
September 5th, 2005, 02:42 AM
Originally posted by PeirsolFan
Most people are not built like and cannot perform like Olympic athletes. An "us and them" comparison is not reasonable. There will be rare exceptions.

I agree we can't perform like them, but we certainly can, and should, emulate their strokes if we want to swim faster. Therefore an us and them comparison is reasonable.

gull
September 5th, 2005, 08:20 AM
Originally posted by PeirsolFan
Swimmer's shoulder, one of the most common complaints, is fairly basic in it's cause: overuse.

Actually, I don't believe it's that simple. The current thinking is that there is a muscle imbalance in many (most?) cases. If it were just a result of overuse, why doesn't it resolve with rest?

fireguard
September 5th, 2005, 05:29 PM
Originally posted by A.K.
I breathe every 3rd, however when tired or trying to get extra power I will breathe on my right side--however it is my Right shoulder that has major problems- this would go against the theory that lope siding impacts the opposite shoulder.

A.K.

I have the same problem. I guess your right hand have to pull really quickly and hard when you breath to your right side. Check the video of Grant Hacket or V.D.H(Hoogenband? I have trouble with this guy's name, sigh.).

PeirsolFan
September 6th, 2005, 02:14 AM
Originally posted by gull80
Actually, I don't believe it's that simple. The current thinking is that there is a muscle imbalance in many (most?) cases. If it were just a result of overuse, why doesn't it resolve with rest?

Done over a long period of time, there will be long term consequences like bruised rotator cuffs. When you say rest, you mean in a sling and allowed a full 6 weeks of non-use to recover, right?

I have yet to meet anyone who could completely adhere to a doctor's orders. As my surgeon said, being told to sit on the couch or sidelines is like being given a death sentence - few patients accept it and actually rest.

PeirsolFan
September 6th, 2005, 02:21 AM
Originally posted by knelson
I agree we can't perform like them, but we certainly can, and should, emulate their strokes if we want to swim faster. Therefore an us and them comparison is reasonable.

That's why we have "stroke modification." People move differently so emulation can lead to disaster. Phelps and most other Olympians can probably pass a Neer test. It would be interesting to find out the ankle range of motion and number of impingements and inflexibilities they suffer. The number is probably quite small.

gull
September 6th, 2005, 09:32 AM
Originally posted by PeirsolFan
Phelps and most other Olympians can probably pass a Neer test.

As can Masters swimmers with healthy shoulders.

The term swimmer's shoulder usually refers to an impingement syndrome with tendinitis, rather than bruising of the rotator cuff. It shouldn't be considered an inevitable consequence of swimming.

By rest I meant avoiding the activity that caused the problem; I did not mean immobilization.

geochuck
September 6th, 2005, 10:53 AM
My Doctor told me not to swim as my tendons were frayed two days before a 32 mile race. I modified my stroke and came 3rd, I needed the prize money. Stroke modification alone can solve most shoulder problems.