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tomtopo
August 5th, 2007, 10:55 AM
I had a reply about the EVF pictures added to the thread "EVF resistance training for swimmers) that was very important because many swimmers don’t understand propulsive mechanics, so let me begin with the reply;

"I understand the basic concept of EVF, but it seems all the exercises are working the wrong muscles. For example, the image with the small dumbbells seems like it would work my traps and middle deltoids, not my lats, pecs and rotator cuff. Same for many of the stretch cord exercises."

Here it is my friends and I’ll try to be brief (George).

“The rotator cuff, the muscles that stabilize the shoulder blade, trapezius, serratus anterior muscles, the muscles of the low back, abdominal, and pelvis that make up the “core” of the body (the abdominal and lower back muscles)” (1) are the EVF muscle groups and are responsible for holding the forearm and hand in a catch position.

Doing or using pull-ups, push-ups, lat-pulls, hand-paddles, Vasa trainers, and other exercises and machines that strengthen the pull, are important exercises but without developing strong “catch” muscles, the most critical propulsive position in swimming can be greatly hindered or even lost.

Pushing water faster without first establishing an Early Vertical Forearm does many things but two of the most counter-productive to swimming faster are as follows:

1) Upon entry, a fast pull either forces a dropped-elbow or if the swimmer locks their elbow and pulls with a straight arm a bobbing of the body.
2) A fast movement of the hand increases the vortex of water behind the hand and slippage or lost of drag/pressure.

The EVF exercises are not to be done to replace a comprehensive strength training regime (see the thread EVF Resistance training for swimmers) and that must be made perfectly clear but they are critical for improving propulsion. When done at appropriate resistance levels, EVF isometrics, EVF stretch-cord, and EVF resistance exercises, can be done safely, relatively quickly (a few minutes a day). The article sited gives other important shoulder/rotator cuff drills that should become part of every swimmers training regime.

So, swimming faster isn’t just about pulling harder it’s also about how you fundamentally set-up your stroke. Just like in most sports, with an improper set-up you may be setting yourself failure.

Reference(1) “Shoulder Injury Prevention, A Series of Exercises for the UN-Injured Swimmer” Presented by USA Swimming and the Sports Medicine Task Force on Swimmer’s Shoulder April 2002

smontanaro
August 5th, 2007, 05:25 PM
I had a reply about the EVF pictures added to the thread "EVF resistance training for swimmers) that was very important because many swimmers don't understand propulsive mechanics, so let me begin with the reply;

"I understand the basic concept of EVF, but it seems all the exercises are working the wrong muscles. For example, the image with the small dumbbells seems like it would work my traps and middle deltoids, not my lats, pecs and rotator cuff. Same for many of the stretch cord exercises."

Here it is my friends and I'll try to be brief (George).

"The rotator cuff, the muscles that stabilize the shoulder blade, trapezius, serratus anterior muscles, the muscles of the low back, abdominal, and pelvis that make up the 'core' of the body (the abdominal and lower back muscles)" (1) are the EVF muscle groups and are responsible for holding the forearm and hand in a catch position.



This I understand. I'm confused about which muscles the various pictures are supposed to be working. I attached one of the pictures you sent me. It's hard to tell since this is a static picture and not a little video clip, but I believe this handsome fellow is standing up and raising his arms by rotating his shoulders in his frontal plane. I believe that would work his trapezius and middle deltoid. I imagine it would also work some part of the rotator cuff, but it's not obvious to me that it would work the rc muscle which will help him develop a strong catch. The resistance in this picture appears to come from gravity. If he had a stretch cord attached to the ceiling above his head and rotated his shoulders in the sagittal plane (clockwise when you're viewing him from his left) then I'd agree he's working the rc muscles involved in the catch.

Thanks,

Skip Montanaro

tomtopo
August 7th, 2007, 04:35 PM
Skip,
I probably am making this harder than it seems. The focus of the exercises I'm prescribing is about maintaining the arm away from the arm-pit and pulling exerciese don't do that. The ability to keep the forearm and hand in a catch position is all about fighting the push of the water on your arm as it moves forward and to fight the strong lats that want to collapse the arm down. The over-the-barrel catch requires a totally different set of muscles to maintain that position.

smontanaro
August 9th, 2007, 09:27 AM
The focus of the exercises I'm prescribing is about maintaining the arm away from the arm-pit and pulling exerciese don't do that. The ability to keep the forearm and hand in a catch position is all about fighting the push of the water on your arm as it moves forward and to fight the strong lats that want to collapse the arm down. The over-the-barrel catch requires a totally different set of muscles to maintain that position.

Tom,

Okay, I get it now. Thanks for your patience with my thick-headedness. I guess you need to work both directions.

Skip

tomtopo
August 9th, 2007, 03:50 PM
Skip,
I think this is a new direction that swimmers will be taking to get faster. The pull-ups, bar-dips, push-ups and lat pulls will still be important but these EVF exercises will be added to get better results. If you decide to do them for three to eight weeks, tell me if you get some big time drops. Thanks, Coach T.

Kevin in MD
August 9th, 2007, 04:18 PM
This being a masters board, i think I need to interject here. Just this year I have had to help two separate people complaining of neck pain when swimming.

In both cases they had read on the internet about having an early catch and decided to implement it.

One guy had to hold at about 2000 yards per week, the other lady had to stop swimming all together.

In both cases they did not have the flexibility to have an early catch without injuring themselves. Specifically their levator scapulae was doing a lot of work to internally rotate their shoulder. in these cases they did not have the flexibility to internally rotate at the shoulder joint itself and had to rotate their entire shoulder complex forward to get into the early catch position.

This might be cool for kids to do due to good flexibility, but those of us with a few more grey hairs need to be careful when doing these specific things, realizing that going for that early catch can make our shoulder problems worse.

quicksilver
August 9th, 2007, 05:24 PM
Kevin has a good point.

tomtopo
August 10th, 2007, 09:28 PM
The Early Vertical Forearm position has been around since the late 60's and brought to the forefront of swimming by the late Dr. James E Counsilman. I've often stated in the articles I've written on the subject that "The EVF exercises are not to be done to replace a comprehensive strength training regime (see the thread EVF Resistance training for swimmers) and that must be made perfectly clear but they are critical for improving propulsion. When done at appropriate resistance levels, EVF isometrics, EVF stretch-cord, and EVF resistance exercises, can be done safely, relatively quickly (a few minutes a day). The article sited -- “Shoulder Injury Prevention, A Series of Exercises for the UN-Injured Swimmer” Presented by USA Swimming and the Sports Medicine Task Force on Swimmer’s Shoulder April 2002 gives other important shoulder/rotator cuff drills that should become part of every swimmers training regime. Almost all of the exercises I prescribe are endorsed by medical doctors who are specialist in their respective fields. The exercise I'm doing in the picture can be done as an isometric (using free weights is only an option not a necessity), it can also be done with 2lb or 1lb weights (a can of corn).

I have many testimonials that counter the notion that EVF Drills and Equipment cause shoulder problems. I'll include Susi Chandler's a 56 year old Triathlete with a severe shoulder disorder. She's talking about EVF equipment. ”I ordered a set of the techpaddles because the USS team that I train with uses them, and I wanted a set to use when I work out alone. I only have 1 intact rotator cuff tendon in my right shoulder, and these paddles do not hurt me! I really like them. Our coach has us doing sets of say 6 x 100, 50 drill/50 swim with the paddles. We then remove them and feel how much better our strokes are without them for the next set. I only swim twice a week, and right now I'm training one day on my own, and another day with the USS team. I used to be a masters swimmer, but I am now swimming to compete in triathlons. Last weekend I did an XTERRA triathlon in Uwharrie National Forest. There were 42 total competitors in this tough, off-road event.(1000 m lake swim, 20 mi mountain bike with 2700 ft of climbing, 10 K trail run) The swim was a 2 loop, 1000m distance in a 67 degree lake. (wetsuit legal) I exited the water in the top 5, and 1st woman. That's not bad for a compromised 56 year old. You can read about XTERRA Uwharrie and see a photo of me below: (swim splits include a rather long run up a hill, after exiting the lake below, and crossing a mat in the transition area)”

I'll also include a testimonial from David Radcliff- Master Swimmer – “I used them (techpaddles) almost everyday leading up to our SCY Masters Nationals in Federal Way, Washington (May 2007). The last year and a half have probably been my most outstanding years as a Master. Last summer at Worlds I set a World Record in the 200 free, won the 400 and did my best time ever as a Master in winning the 800 Free. I am 73 and to have my times get faster instead of slower with old age is exciting. This year at SCY Nationals I won the 200, 500 and 1000. My 500 was my best ever as a Master. I have always been a hard trainer and worker. The tech paddles have been one of my favorite ways to work on the early catch. I also like the way the handle is angled, which helps me with my shoulder wide entry.”


If have two pages of testimonials from swimmers 17 to swimmers older than most of our master members telling me that EVF training is getting them PR's. The research is very clear, a comprehensive strength training program for master swimmers is a positive thing and not a negative thing. EVF is simply a catch and if you don't have one you should get one. I've been coaching for over thirty years I've all but eliminated shoulder problems by incorporating strength training exercises that include EVF drills.

A knowledgeable athlete never needs to cause themself an injury. Exercises are designed to strengthen and prevent injuries not cause them. So, make sure you get the okay from a MD or competent coach or trainer before you start any exercise routine. Good Luck!

geochuck
August 10th, 2007, 09:42 PM
Tomtopo

You have done a great job explaining the excercises we should do on land. When we were kids these were the daily excercises we did. Plus the bicycle rides to the pool and weekend bicycle trips. A great one was climbing ropes, we would row boats, or paddle canoes when ever we could. The young ones of today get rides all over the place and never get the chance to develop these muscles. I was also a grocery delivery boy and worked after school til 5:30 then rode the bike to the pool after doing my deliveries on the bike.

tomtopo
August 10th, 2007, 10:03 PM
George,
I'm a physical education teacher and I normally do the exercises with my classes. They whine so much it's disheartening. What's worse, at 53 I put 98% of the high school boys and girls to shame. George, most need a ride to school and live less than a mile from school. Out of 40 students I bet one could climb a rope. I think those games the kids watch in front of the TV is killing them. I'll be at the ASCA Clinic in San Diego, hope to see you there. Tom

Shaman
August 12th, 2007, 12:03 AM
This being a masters board, i think I need to interject here. Just this year I have had to help two separate people complaining of neck pain when swimming.

In both cases they had read on the internet about having an early catch and decided to implement it.

One guy had to hold at about 2000 yards per week, the other lady had to stop swimming all together.

In both cases they did not have the flexibility to have an early catch without injuring themselves. Specifically their levator scapulae was doing a lot of work to internally rotate their shoulder. in these cases they did not have the flexibility to internally rotate at the shoulder joint itself and had to rotate their entire shoulder complex forward to get into the early catch position.

This might be cool for kids to do due to good flexibility, but those of us with a few more grey hairs need to be careful when doing these specific things, realizing that going for that early catch can make our shoulder problems worse.

Ok how do you test for the flexibility to use an early catch?

tomtopo
August 12th, 2007, 02:52 PM
If you can do the dog-paddle without pain, you are flexible enough to start improving your EVF. An early vertical forearm should never hurt - NEVER! Exercise can be strenuous and exhausting but if it's ever painful you're doing something outside your physical limitations. For goodness sake, when I hear that someone got hurt while training they simply were doing something outside their God-given abilities. I've pushed myself harder than I should have while exercising and have injured myself, not because what I was doing was bad for me, I simple overextended myself and compromised my safety. Older and wiser should be true but it's not. When a coach tells you to do something and it hurts, I think you should question what's going on and stop it until an examination of what's causing the pain is found so the cause can be avoided. So, as important and critical to swimming propulsion as EVF is to everyone who wants to get faster, --- If doing it hurts -- Examine what and how you're doing it, stop doing it until you find out what's causing the pain. The EVF motion shouldn't cause pain for a vast majority of master swimmers but if it does the pain may point to muscular inadequacies that should be addressed so potential improvement isn't hindered. Good luck, Coach T.

geochuck
August 12th, 2007, 04:07 PM
I think to many have the idea the only true way to swim is not to experiment with what they think is a brand new concept. My brother Tom who was considered to be one of the top marathon swimmers in the world experimented with going directly to the catch, no reach and found it was not as hard on his shoulders and back muscles. He found that his stroke rate increased (faster turnover) but it lessened the strain.

I have watched many swimmers who extend the arm forward the hand lifts, points up then the elbow drops, this is not good. On the recovery they forget to keep the elbow high, it drops and the hand skims the top of the water with the elbow droping while moving forward.

Kevin in MD
August 13th, 2007, 10:31 AM
Ok how do you test for the flexibility to use an early catch?

Technically you would do an internal shoulder rotation test. Position yourself like a scarecrow with forearms vertical, then holding your humerus still, rotate your forearms forward in the saggital plane without moving your scapula at all. The amount of rotation below vertical is your internal rotation.

You'd probably be looking at 10 degrees or more to feel real good about it.

Functionally though, go and swim with an early catch. If it hurts, back off, if not proceed.

The threat of injuries are in ignorance of the problem, now that you know what can happen and what brings it around you'll be fine. The issue is when someone adopts this style without knowing the problems it can cause.

tomtopo
August 13th, 2007, 12:26 PM
Technically, an Early Vertical Forearm isn't a style of swimming it's a function of propulsion. The two forces that are primarily responsible for propulsion are drag force and lift force. Fluid dynamics and Bernoulli's equation can get very complex (Sorry George) but it's important to know that the continuity of fluid or it's density stays constant when the flow rate stays constant. You want to create the highest drag force possible and still maintain a constant flow rate and an EVF position helps you do this. So, EVF is a position that allows for the most efficient leveraging of water. Sweeping the hand back and forth is commonly called "sculling" and also produces propulsion but it primarily compliments drag forces by moving the hand into still water. I know this seems a bit much but EVF is not foreign to any swimmer even if they think it is. In other words, how early or to what degree you move your forearm and hand vertically is a question, but there is not a question that every swimmer uses drag and lift forces inherent in an early vertical forearm position. Every swimmer uses the principals of an EVF whether they want to admit it or not.