View Full Version : How to return without getting hurt?

December 19th, 2007, 05:03 PM
I've made it my new years resolution to get back into the water after being away from masters swimming for about six years (and two kids and countless sympathy pounds!) Once upon a time I had a bit of an obsessive personality when it came to working out. I always did too much too soon. Can anyone recommend a good read or a good online program that might help me better plan or pace my return to the water. I'm in my late 30's now and I'm starting to feel the aches and pains that I use to kid my dad about... we have an excellent masters program in my area but the emphasis (rightfully so) tends to me on appeasing the general populace during workout and not helping the out-of-shape get back into shape (safely). I'm expecting that I'll need to take care to watch over this myself.

Anyway, thanks for your insight!


December 19th, 2007, 06:40 PM
Try Fitness Swimming by Emmett Hines. He has a website and it's on Amazon too. All his workouts are based on your fitness level and target heart rate so anybody can use it regardless of ability.

December 19th, 2007, 09:10 PM
Who says you have to do the whole workout? Who says you have to be in the fast lane with the shortest intervals? Do every other swim. Just get in there and swim. But listen to what your body tells you and leave the ego at the door.


December 19th, 2007, 09:14 PM
There is a zero to one mile program floating around here, that might be a good starting point

December 19th, 2007, 10:25 PM
My suggestion is to set goals (immediate, intermittent, and long-term) and, to be cliché, "plan your work and work your plan." I started swimming last summer after a 20 yr. hiatus and was worn out after 400yds, but it was a start. I kept at it, swimming when I could, and have gradually increased my total to 5000yds, 3 days a week. I had setbacks and breakthroughs, but the long and short term goals seem to help out. I myself am a 39yr old "geezer" or "pup" depending upon pov, so I was in a similar boat.

As far as the getting hurt part, for me I had to learn to listen to my body, and make sure I get enough rest and sleep in between workouts. Variety is also a good thing to keep boredom at bay and hopefully avoid repetitive motion injuries. Good luck.


The Fortress
December 19th, 2007, 11:08 PM
After a 24 year hiatus myself, I strongly advise that you do rotator cuff exercises regularly, build up gradually no matter how impatient you are, and cross train.

runner girl
December 19th, 2007, 11:30 PM
My shoulder agrees with The Fortress. I got sucked into doing longer, tougher workouts, and then the shoulder said :notworking:. That set me back months.

December 21st, 2007, 01:16 PM
Thank you for the suggestions. I sincerely appreciate the insight. I tend to work well with very structured, measured environments. Some are more cerebral about their swimming. I prefer not to worry about structuring workouts. Or formulating a training plan. I sometimes wonder if I missed my calling in the military. :) Anyway, does anyone have experience with the online coaching? Are there any that specialize in swimming?

Also, some suggested simply listening to your body and allowing it to tell you when to stop training (especially early on). How exactly do you judge this? This has always been difficult for me. Is muscle tightness a sign you should stop? Cramping? Under these circumstances is it best to stop or simply slow down... How do you manage muscle recovery early on? Is a little everyday more preferable to attending workout say every other day in the beginning?

Again, i appreciate the help!

December 21st, 2007, 03:52 PM
If you like a structure program go with the Emmett Hines book.

Blackbeard's Peg
December 22nd, 2007, 10:02 AM
If its been a while since you've done a lot of exercise, listening to your body could be pretty hit or miss. You could mistake stress for fatigue, which could be bad. Also, I think a lot depends on what is hurting. For example, with my knee, any time this fall i felt the slighest hint that I overdid something either kicking or with a turn, I stopped dead in my tracks and got out. However, with my shoulders, I tend to try to swim through. I think a lifetime of bad knee is worse than shoulder issues.

Having come back from injuries several times in the last few years, I agree that you should ease back into things. But one thing that has helped me a lot is stretching. It helps with cramp preventative maintenence.

Cramps are (to me) a sign that you're working hard - harder than your body is prepared for, but NOT harder than your body can handle. If you find yourself cramping, stretch and massage, and ease back into what you were doing. Killing a practice b/c of a cramp tells my body it can make me give up, and I want to let it know it needs to adapt and keep on trucking. No pain no gain, right? :dedhorse: To keep the cramps away, stretch, drink water (eat some salts w/ water to help retain some water) or gatorade.

December 24th, 2007, 09:12 AM
More excellent advice. Thank you again! I don't think I've ever been in worse shape and I'm weary of how things will feel in the beginning. It's amazing how easy it is to remember how good it feels to be in excellent shape and yet how much easier it is to slip into the habit of doing nothing. Here's hoping the lifeguards are alert when I make it back in the water...

I've ordered a copy of the Hines book off of amazon. Another friend recommended a video called Yoga for Inflexible People as a nice early cross trainer.

I'll let you know how things go...

December 24th, 2007, 10:06 AM

My advice to you is to join the masters team that you mentioned. I'm quite sure that there are folks of varying speed there so you should be fine if you take it easy at first and just work back into it. Sit out if you need to. Don't do all the stroke work at first and just swim free. You will get back into the swing of things faster than you realize.

It sounds you're at the point I was about 6 months ago. I decided to start swimming again after 19 years off and started late July of this year swimming on my own and knocking out some laps. I then joined a masters team on 15 Sept. The first practice near killed me as I thought that my lap swimming would have been enough to get me a good base. Well in my case, it wasn't, maybe you're a more driven person than I was. I survived the first 3 weeks by skipping reps and subbing free for some of the stroke work.

What I realized after my first month is that I cheated myself by not joining the masters program in July. Again, my advice is to join the team and do as much of the structured workout as possible. Within a month you will be glad you did.

I hope this helps.


December 24th, 2007, 10:26 AM
A master club is great for getting back, but you must not try to move up from the slow lane too soon.

The draw back of the masters club is that you are required to follow the leader (coach) and put up with some pretty bad coaches who have the hearding idea. You must be like sheep and do everything he says.

I worked with a masters club for six weeks in 1998 and was so crippled I could barely walk so no more of that.

I do prefer the swim alone thing for myself. I swim the stroke I want and work the way I want. I video my stroke and self correct.

Blackbeard's Peg
December 24th, 2007, 07:23 PM
The draw back of the masters club... You must be like sheep and do everything he says.

Swimming on your own has its benefits, but having coaching does too - especially for someone coming back after a layoff. For one, someone else gets to think of the sets, but especially in this case, having someone watch for mistakes and make corrections would be a valuable asset.

I don't know a single masters swimmer who hasn't at some point in their career, especially fresh back in the water, modified a set or just gotten out and when something was not to their liking... Its the beauty of masters - you don't like stroke, do free; don't like the free, do IM; don't feel like doing any more, get out and go home.