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View Full Version : Swimming and ITBS



echo
January 7th, 2006, 06:07 AM
Hi. This is a great discussion board. I'm so glad to have found it.

Anyway, I'm a novice swimmer. I just started in summer when I began to get knee pain from running. I took some lessons in the fall. I was told my breaststroke is quite nice, and I can swim it endlessly. But freestyle is still very difficult for me.

I've read most of the threads, and there's a lot of very good advice for beginners that have precisely the same issues as I do.

However, my flutter kick is still quite weak and I'm having trouble managing many of the popular freestyle drills because of this. The usual advice I've seen is to do these drills while wearing fins. But I simply can't do this because even five minutes very gentle kicking in fins causes a flare up of ITBS in my right knee.

I haven't seen any mention this particular problem as it relates to swimming. Does anyone else have any experience with it? Or any off the cuff suggestions/advice?

I have seen a sports med spec, and his suggestion after seeing me twice was the classic "Well, don't swim then. Try cycling instead." Grrr. I live in Canada, so I don't really have the option of finding a physician with a bit more sympathy who might understand that cycling is cycling and swimming is a very powerful addiction. :(

Thanks. :)

msgrupp
January 7th, 2006, 08:41 AM
"ITBS"?

Iliotiibal band syndrome?

kernow
January 7th, 2006, 09:55 AM
Well, considering that you've just started, my advice would be to give it some time :)

Remember, many swimmers start out with a weak flutter kick, and it can take some time to strengthen it. There is a lot of debate about the use of fins, anyway, so I wouldn't worry about it.

I would suggest to keep on swimming and focus on upper body strength and technique. And, of course, work on your breaststroke- it sounds like it's 'your' stroke, anyway!

Are you working with a coach? On a team?

Sam Perry
January 7th, 2006, 10:09 AM
Originally posted by echo
I have seen a sports med spec, and his suggestion after seeing me twice was the classic "Well, don't swim then. Try cycling instead." Grrr. I live in Canada, so I don't really have the option of finding a physician with a bit more sympathy who might understand that cycling is cycling and swimming is a very powerful addiction.


Call me crazy, but if you are havng a knee problem, wouldn't the rotation on a bicycle only aggravate it?

I for the life of me can't imagine why your knee would bother you kickinbg fluttter but not breastroke. Sounds like a strengthening issue or maybe a technique flaw that might cause it. I would agree with the above post regarding working on upper body strentgh. One thing I tell some of my friends new into swimming is to get a pair of zoomers. You still have to kick with the rapidity needed without fins but get that little extra propulsion to help develop your entire stroke. Sometimes fins can make you lazy in the sense you slow down the pace of your kicks.

Good luck!!

echo
January 8th, 2006, 03:19 AM
Thanks for your replies!

msgrupp, yes.

kernow, I like your advice. Lifting does give a much needed lactic acid fix. Trying to "run through the pain" in my knee gave me a twinge in my groin, made worse by the whip kick, so breaststroke is on hold until that heals... Well, I can manage it with a very bad and inelegant dolphin kick. Or only pull with a buoy, which makes it almost as challenging for me as freestyle. ;) Technique needs serious work. No question.

No coach/club until I've improved some more. One of the local Masters swimmers flattered me by suggesting I should join, but I've seen them at work and it's a busy club with a wait-list for new members. I can't imagine they have room for a lane slow enough to accomodate my freestyle or backstroke.


Originally posted by Sam Perry
Call me crazy, but if you are havng a knee problem, wouldn't the rotation on a bicycle only aggravate it?

I for the life of me can't imagine why your knee would bother you kickinbg fluttter but not breastroke. Sounds like a strengthening issue or maybe a technique flaw that might cause it.

Absolutely. I thought the bike would give me trouble, too. But it doesn't. Strictly speaking, I can flutter kick painlessly (though ineffectively) as long as it doesn't hurt at all when I start. It's the fins that cause the problems. And I'm perplexed as to why, since I've been told that they ought to help instill more correct technique. What I think might be happening is that by putting on fins, I just added a huge amount of resistance to a very fundamentally bad kick.

So, you're totally right. There's definitely a BIG FLAW in my technique somewhere, though, to be sure, the instructors have insisted that the solution is to KICK HARDER AND FASTER!!! *laughs* Myself, I expect that fluttering like a bumblebee might well be what's causing me to be winded after 50m. If I get out of this alive, I'll at least have strong legs.

Perhaps I need to lay out the cash for some private lessons to isolate the specific problems. Though I admit I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to assess potential instructors' credentials.

geochuck
January 8th, 2006, 11:49 AM
Consider the kick as a balancer and don't worry about how hard you kick. I think to much time is spent on the kick and drills??? they are the last thing to think about. Swim making sure the hand entry is good that your effort starts at the catch and finish the stroke as far down the thigh that you can. When recovering the elbows are high and when you commence the pull, don't drop your elbow.

Leg problems forget breaststroke...

echo
January 9th, 2006, 01:39 AM
Originally posted by geochuck
Consider the kick as a balancer and don't worry about how hard you kick. I think to much time is spent on the kick and drills??? they are the last thing to think about. Swim making sure the hand entry is good that your effort starts at the catch and finish the stroke as far down the thigh that you can. When recovering the elbows are high and when you commence the pull, don't drop your elbow.

It sounds like very good advice. I wish I knew how to tell when I was doing these things or not. It may not be worth paying for good instruction, though, if I'm going to be hindered by injury.


Originally posted by geochuck
Leg problems forget breaststroke...

Well, since it's the only stroke I feel comfortable doing, I didn't want to hear that. But I value your opinion. If breaststroke bothers my groin/hip and freestyle bothers my knee, perhaps my doctor is right after all.

Or I could just lay off swimming for few months.

Thanks.

LindsayNB
January 9th, 2006, 09:39 AM
Originally posted by echo
Well, since it's the only stroke I feel comfortable doing, I didn't want to hear that. But I value your opinion. If breaststroke bothers my groin/hip and freestyle bothers my knee, perhaps my doctor is right after all.

Or I could just lay off swimming for few months.

Another option would be to lay off of breast stroke and use of fins for a while and concentrate on freestyle and backstroke, both full stroke and with drills you can do without fins. Most people have learned to swim freestyle without ever using fins, even those of us with lousy kicks. You can also work on improving your kicking without fins, and believe me, I know what it is like to practically come to a stop while kicking :rolleyes: With practice your kick will improve.

Good luck, keep at it!

matysekj
January 9th, 2006, 12:09 PM
I've struggled off and on with IT Band Syndrome for a few years. While it has been better lateley, I don't have a magical solution to offer for you. I've tried the stretches, icing and NSAIDs, and it generally seemed to just take a lot of time for it to improve while avoiding things that noticably hurt it.

Prolonged or harder kicking with fins definitely bothered mine also. If any kicking with fins at all bothers yours, then definitely stay away from that for a while. It isn't essential that you use fins in a workout - many people get by just fine without them.

One other thing that I noticed was that any twisting motion with the feet on the wall on turns would bother it. Concentrate on pushing straight off the wall once your feet hit on any type of turn. With flip turns, avoid the '70s style lazy turn where you land on your back and are twisting to your stomach as you push off the wall. In breast and fly turns, be conscious of your foot placement on the wall and what is happening with it as you push off. I'll bet that your ITBS is in the knee that is closest to the bottom of the pool as you push off the wall in turns, right? That one seems to get the most lateral pressure, and you can correct this easily if you concentrate on it. An alternative is to try turning the other direction for a while.

Good luck with it, and be patient with the recovery. Try to isolate the specific things that hurt it and avoid or modify them. It will take time.

ljodpundari
January 9th, 2006, 12:58 PM
My problem is arthritis in one knee.

I sometimes experience pain when doing a flutter kick with fins. I've found that it helps if I concentrate on keeping my leg (knee joint) as straight as possible. You don't want to lock your knees, just use your leg muscles to keep them fairly straight.

This is supposed to develop ankle flexibility as well. I guess it works: my ankles are now as flexible as a board; they used to be as flexible as a brick.:)

I laid off breast stroke completely for a few weeks until I started getting some results from physical therapy. One exercise that the PT suggested for me was to do leg lifts with an ankle weight. 3 x 10 reps on my back, then roll 1/4 turn and repeat. Keep up until I've done the complete set forwards, backwards, out and in. Again, keep the knee straight when doing this.

I have now been able to resume breast stroke, as long as I don't try too many 100m sprints.

I used to have groin pain from the breast stroke kick, but concentrating on technique (keep the kick narrow and fast) has helped that.