‘Lazy Butt Syndrome’? Part 2 – Fixing With Exercise

Last time I wrote an intro about how Lazy Butt Syndrome can cause low back pain.  As a recap, recall that the pain you might be experiencing in the lower back, hips or legs may actually be a consequence of GLUTE INHIBITION…lazy butt muscles that are not doing their proportionate share of the work in moving you or supporting your body.  Read that article first if you have’t yet.

This month I will introduce 4 key exercises for you to awaken those lazy glutes.

1. Hip square exercise – Get on your hands and knees on the floor.  Position your hands so they are directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hip joints.  Keep your head and neck in a neutral posture while looking straight down at the floor.  Extend one leg back with the knee locked straight and point your toes back too.  From there, imagine your leg is a pen and you are drawing a square.  Move the leg out, then down, back in and then up.  Those are the 4 corners of your square.  Perform at a moderate speed, don’t rush it.  Repeat 15-20 times, then switch legs.  Your glute muscles will be burning at the end of the set.

2. Hip bridge exercise – Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet hip width apart.  Press through your heels and push your hips up off the ground until your body is flat and straight from your knees down to your upper chest.  Squeeze your glute muscles HARD and hold this position for 5-10 seconds.  Drop back down slowly and rest for 5-10 seconds.  Repeat this 10 times.  As a more challenging progression, you can perform this exercise with one leg extended forward…this will isolate one glute at a time while also working core stability/balance.

3. Monster walk – You will need a strength band to perform this as shown in the video.  Alternatively, a latex loop band placed around the knees is another option.   With both feet, step on the strength band with feet about shoulder width apart.  Pull up on the other end of the band with your arms and get into a half squat position.  From there, take 15 side steps to the right then take 15 side steps back to the left.  You should feel the muscles in the side of your hip working.

4. Single leg deadlift – Start in a standing position and slightly lift one leg backwards off the ground.  From there, hinge forward at the hip and try to bring your arms down toward the floor.  Try to have only a slight bend in your knee (unless you are like me and have tight hamstrings!).  Slowly return to standing position and squeeze your glute at the top.  This is a challenging exercise because it requires good balance to do it properly.  Perform 10 repetitions and then switch legs.  As your technique improves, you can add weight by holding light dumbbells in each hand.

Other simple things you can do during the course of your day are:

  • actively contracting your glute each time you push off your back leg while walking
  • squeezing and contracting your glutes for a few seconds repeatedly while you quietly wait in line at Starbucks!

Not sure if you have inhibited glutes but sure you have back pain, hip pain or knee pain?  Come in for a full assessment and find out!

Saying good bye to summer!

Dr. Keith

Is A Cortisone Shot The Answer To Your Shoulder Pain?

Cortisone shots are frequently prescribed by medical doctors if you have been suffering with prolonged pain in your back, knees or shoulders.  Is it the best way to manage your pain?  A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, August 2014, compared a one year outcome of steroid injection to physical therapy for shoulder impingement syndrome.  Both groups showed the same pain level and disability improvement after 1 year (approximately 50% improvement).  But 60% of the injection group had to return to their primary care doctor after 1 year as compared to 37% of the physical therapy group.  Also, the injection group were more likely to need more injections or physical therapy after 1 year.

Case Study – 60 Year Old Male Triathlete

Here is a case study of a successful recovery of one of my patients. Let me tell you and it was not always this way. I was successful in facilitating this rehabilitation for two main reasons: 1. Patient compliance with exercise and  2. I changed my way of treating shoulders.

Initial Assessment:
The patient was not able to lift his arm to the side past 90 degrees (shoulder level) without having pain and moving his head forward. It was difficult for him to wave without having pain or major discomfort.  Even putting a sweater or even a T-shirt on caused pain and discomfort.  Not only did he have difficulty raising his arm to the side but he also had difficulty raising his arm forward.  When I looked at his posture I saw slight forward head carriage and rounded shoulders.

Treatment:
I treated this patient over a five to six week time period. Specific manual techniques were performed on the following muscles to help to increase muscle length: medial and lateral rotators of the shoulder joint, the trapezius muscle along with some of the neck muscles.
The deltoid muscle, the biceps muscle and triceps muscle were also treated manually. I treat these muscles because I find if left untreated, there is still a lingering restricted range of motion.  I also treated the subclavius muscle which lies directly underneath the collar bone and attaches to the ribs.
I have found treating this area very beneficial with increasing range of motion at the shoulder.

Exercises:
To complement this treatment, I gave very specific postural exercises for this patient to do at home. Muscle setting exercises are the base for any recovery from shoulder issues for me. Although simple in nature they do take time to master; however the benefits are phenomenal.
This simple exercises are performed by lowering the shoulder and shoulder blade, then bringing the shoulder blades together. This causes the front to open up which decreases the sense of “tightness”.
He was required to complete three sets of ten repetitions, holding for three seconds at a time.
My patient was and is still very compliant with these exercises and feels significantly better since starting them.

Outcome:
Putting on clothes and waving to family and friends are no longer a problem!  He is extremely pleased with the results as he thought he would have to live with the pain for the rest of his life.  And he went on to compete in a triathlon without feeling restricted in his shoulder during swimming.  All this without resorting to a cortisone injection which would have only masked the pain temporarily but would not have addressed the underlying muscular issues contributing to the actual problem.

Your friendly neighbourhood Athletic Therapist!

Michael Wolfe Grafstein

B.Ph.Ed, RMT, R.Kin, SMT(C), CAT(C)

Do You Have ‘Lazy Butt Syndrome’?

Lazy Butt Syndrome (or you could substitute the word ‘Butt’ with a different word starting with the letter ‘A’)…it’s probably something associated with your teenage kids or maybe your spouse, right?

While that certainly may be true of some of your family members, I am actually talking about Lazy Butt Syndrome in the context of how your butt or gluteal muscles may not be working properly and consequently causing aches and pains in your lower back, hips, or legs.

Believe it or not, your glutes can become ‘lazy’ in that the muscles do not fire or contract in a timely or efficient manner to do the muscular work required of them during normal daily activities or strenuous activities at work or athletics.  Chiropractors, physiotherapists and other manual medicine practitioners refer to this as Glute Inhibition.

As a result of gluteal inhibition, other muscles in your body will frequently have to take up the slack and work extra hard to make up for the deficiency.  The glutes do a less than proportionate share of the work while the other muscles such as your low back and hamstrings perform an increased share.  In simplistic terms, if you had 4 workers digging a 50 foot deep hole in the ground and one of those workers decides to go take a nap under the tree instead, then the remaining 3 workers have to take up the slack for the 25% work reduction by Mr. Sleepy Head.  Over time, one or maybe all 3 of the other workers doing overtime could get injured from the increased strain.  Solution: Wake up Mr. Sleepy Head and make him pick up his shovel!

I find that people with low back pain often have gluteal inhibition and will include tests during my physical examination to assess whether that is the case.  I’d say it is pretty common…probably close to 70% of the time, the patient will have one or both glutes inhibited.

How does one develop Lazy Butt Syndrome?

The main cause of LBS is prolonged sitting.  Many people sit at their jobs for 6-10 hours per day.  Many people commute to work in their cars or GO Train for 1-2 additional hours per day.  Many of these same people then do very little activity once they get home.  Some of these people might do 1 hour of ‘exercise’ on most days of the week but it still may not be enough to counteract the effects of the cumulated hours of sitting on their butts.

Another cause of LBS is overuse through work or exercise without sufficient recovery.  In this case, because the glutes are excessively tense due to activity, the brain will sense that they are over-stressed and at risk of injury and send nerve signals to turn the glutes off.

Thirdly, muscle imbalances in the hip and pelvic region can also cause glute deactivation.  For example, people who have short and tight hip flexors often develop elongated glutes that are inhibited.

Finally, a traumatic fall on your back side will also trigger deactivation of your glutes.  Also, folks who have suffered ankle sprains often exhibit glute inhibition.

Some patients often say to me that their glutes can’t possibly be inhibited because they do alot of squats or lunges or deadlifts or run for distance 4-5x per week.  It is possible to have ‘strong’ glutes that don’t fire properly.  In fact, it may be the excessive amount of exercise that caused the brain to turn them off.  Muscle inhibition is different than muscle weakness.  When a muscle is inhibited, the neurological firing of the muscle is disrupted causing it not to contract sufficiently or at the right time.  In contrast, a weak muscle is firing normally, but is lacking in strength.

If you have any of the following issues, it may be due in large part to Lazy Butt Syndrome:

  1. Low back pain
  2. Hamstring strain
  3. Anterior knee pain
  4. Anterior hip pain
  5. Poor alignment of the hips, knees or ankles
  6. ACL sprains/tears, ankle instability, IT band pain

We can’t help you with the Lazy Butt Syndrome that you see in your family members!  But we can help with Lazy Butt Syndrome that may be causing your aches and pains.

Next month, I will talk about home exercises that you can do to combat LBS.

Until then, pray for better summer weather!

Dr. Keith

Your Knee Pain Is Coming From Your Foot and Hip!

Now that I have your attention you may want to read on. If you answer yes to any one of these questions there is a very good chance your knee pain is a symptom of something else that is weak or tight or flat.

Do you have pain when jogging?

Do you have knee pain when going up stairs?

Do you have knee pain from jumping?

Do you have knee pain when you play sports?

Chances are that if you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then your pain is either an indirect or direct response from something else in your body that is not working functionally or mechanically.

So you may be asking yourself now, “What is actually causing my knee pain?”

In my experience in assessing and treating knee injuries for the past 25 years, knee pain arises from either muscle issues at your hip or problems with your feet.

The knee joint is like a hinge. It is the midpoint between the hip and the foot. Anything that happens to either the foot or the hip will have a direct effect on the knee.

If you have flat feet there is very good chance that right now you suffer from knee pain unless you wear inserts or orthotics in your shoes. Without the inserts the foot becomes flat when you walk. This causes the knee to turn in more which leads to more load on the knee joint.

To correct this inserts or orthotics give support to the foot minimizing the flattening of the arch of the foot when you take a step. Sometimes this all you that you need to correct this problem.

Next, if the muscles at your hip are weak that will lead the thigh bone to rotate inward more causing more force on the knee joint. This may lead several areas of pain at the knee:

  1. Pain on the inside of the knee
  2. Pain on the underside of the knee cap (Chondromalacia patella)
  3. Pain below the knee (Patellar tendonitis)
  4. Swelling behind the knee (Housemaid’s knee)
  5. Pain above the knee (Jumpers knee)

What is the solution?

As with most injuries I put you through a full assessment that includes both postural observation and gait analysis followed by specific testing at the ankle knee and hip.

Once this testing is completed I create both a clinical plan and a home exercise program. The home exercise program focus is on exercises that strengthen weak muscles and lengthens shortened muscles.

If you truly want to get rid of this knee pain I would suggest that you make the time to do your “homework” on a daily consistent basis. Exercises may include the “clamshell” and/or the “monster walk”.

Be aware that any treatment that solely focuses directly on the knee may give you short term relief but not resolve your knee pain long term.

Your friendly neighbourhood Athletic Therapist!

Michael Wolfe Grafstein

B.Ph.Ed, RMT, R.Kin, SMT(C), CAT(C)

Get Ahead Of Your Seasonal Allergies This Spring

It may not feel like it yet, but spring is just around the corner and so is allergy season.  And if you find that you’ve never had allergies before but in the last few years seem to have developed symptoms, perhaps it’s time to take a look at your overall health and see if you can make changes now that will lower your risk of symptoms recurring this spring.

Early spring allergies are typically caused by pollen and mold in the air.  They can also be tracked into the house on our clothes and shoes.  Grass contributes to allergy symptoms later in the spring and summer.

In Ontario, common culprits are ragweed, maple trees, oak trees, birch trees and cedars to name a few.  The weather network has a Pollen Report where they rank pollen levels from low to high.  Check out the report for Richmond Hill: https://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca/forecasts/pollen/ontario/richmond-hill

Also called allergic rhinitis, symptoms can range from a runny and stuffy nose; dry, puffy and itchy eyes; itchy skin or mouth, cough, phlegm and sneezing.

So are seasonal allergies normal?  Absolutely not.  It is your immune system responding to something that is usually harmless yet perceives it as an invader.  When your body comes into contact with pollen through breathing or touching your eyes and skin, your immune system considers it dangerous and releases histamine as a defense mechanism.

What lifestyle practices contribute to this glitch in your immune system?

In my opinion, stress, toxicity and poor gut health are big factors to the increasing occurrences of allergies in children and adults.

Stress is a normal part of life.  Your body is designed to deal with short bursts of stress.  But when the stressful stimulus is not removed, your body’s ability to adapt suffers and enters a state of chronic survival mode.

In school we learned about stress as a “fight or flight” response in the body.  Imagine that you are on a hike in the forest and suddenly a big black bear crosses your path in front of you.  Your body’s stress response kicks in.  Your brain becomes super active, thinking of all the scenarios of how you can avoid being attacked by the bear.  Your blood pressure and heart rate rise in order to increase blood flow to your muscles and your brain.  All your senses are on acute alert.

Now think.  In this state, is your body worried about properly digesting the food you eat?  No way it’s only concern is to get away from that bear.

Think again.  Is your mind constantly “racing”?  Do you have palpitations or high blood pressure and times of unexplained anxiety or panic?  If you answered yes, you might be in a state of chronic stress.  And if so, your gut is likely not working optimally.  Heartburn, gas, bloating and irritable bowels might also be part of your story.

So how is stress-causing-a-poor-functioning-gut related to your immune system and allergies?

Because 80% of your immune system is found within the lining of the gut.  So if your gut isn’t healthy, neither is your immune system.

Here are 7 ways you can improve the health of your gut and your immune system:

  1. Eat whole, unprocessed foods, especially for 4-6 weeks before allergy season.  Drink lots of pure filtered water and eliminate alcohol.  You want to minimize the toxins you put into your body that put more stress on your bodily functions.  According to Precision Nutrition’s recommendations for any meal, ¼ of your plate should be dense proteins (e.g. fish, poultry, eggs), ⅛ of your plate should be health fats (e.g. oils, nuts, seeds), and ⅝ of your plate should be colourful vegetables (e.g. broccoli, sweet potato, kale, spinach, etc.)
  2. Sweat.  From exercise, hot yoga or even an infrared sauna.  These things help improve stress levels and sweat is a great way to detoxify your body.
  3. If you have digestive weakness and have symptoms such as gas or bloating, try eating only cooked vegetables (e.g. steamed, stir fried, baked) for 4-6 weeks before allergy season.   This will help your gut with the breakdown of food.
  4. Probiotics.  They are the “good” bacteria that populate your small intestine.  Antibiotics kill these good bacteria and it’s important to replenish them after each round of antibiotics.  Certain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria probiotic strains have been shown to reduce allergic rhinitis symptoms and improve quality of life during allergy season.
  5. Quercetin.  This antioxidant vitamin has antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties, thereby reducing the intensity of allergy symptoms.  Though it is found naturally in high concentrations in onions and broccoli, apples, cherries, berries, and matcha green tea, taking a supplement will ensure you intake the proper effective dose where you will its benefits.
  6. L-Glutamine.  This amino acid, found in protein dense foods like meat, is an important ingredient in the production of cells in the gut lining.  Several studies have shown its benefit in digestive health and inflammatory bowel disorders (e.g. Crohn’s disease).
  7. Pascallerg is a product made by Pascoe that I recommend a lot in my practice.  It is a natural non-drowsy alternative to OTC antihistamines that works well in most of my patients to reduce sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes (FYI I do not work for or am affiliated with the company in any way).  Check out http://www.pascoe.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Pascallerg_Allergic-Rhinitis.pdf to read more about the efficacy of this product.

Take care of your gut!  And find ways to reduce stress in your life.  Keep on smiling!

Blessings,

Dr. Misa

 

References:

Dennis-Wall, J.C., et al. 2017. Probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and Bifidobacterium longum MM-2) improve rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life in individuals with seasonal allergies: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105(3):758-767.

Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., Skrovankova, S., and Sochor, J. 2016. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response.  Molecules, 21(5), E623.

Disclaimer: I am a doctor, but I’m not your doctor.  The information in my blog posts are meant to give you different perspectives at looking at your health and I hope you find it educational.  However, you should always see a Naturopathic Doctor or a health professional who can assess what is best and safe for you before taking any supplements or making dietary changes.  Keep on learning!

Dr. Misa Kawasaki has been practicing for over 15 years as a Naturopathic Doctor at Meridian Spine and Sport in Oak Ridges and is also a Nutrition Coach at CrossFit Ark in Aurora.  Check out her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Dr.MisaND/ for more health tips!

Should We Apply Ice For Injuries?

At some point in your life, somebody like a parent, coach, therapist or doctor has recommended that you go home and apply ice to a fresh injury.

Perhaps you sprained your ankle.  Pulled a muscle in your back.  Had a flare up of arthritis in your knee.

And you followed the recommendation and applied a bag of ice cubes or a bag of frozen peas over the affected area.  Did it help you?  Did you feel like your recovered quicker?

The reality is that over 40 years, there has not been any compelling scientific research that shows icing or cold therapy helps injuries heal faster.  In fact, new research now claims that perhaps ice even slows down your recovery!

But why not?  After all, doesn’t a cold pack on an injury help restrict blood flow to the injured area, numb the pain, and control the swelling?  Aren’t these good things?!

As a practising chiropractor for over 13 years, I too have been guilty of making this recommendation to my patients and over the past year have reduced my recommendation for using ice significantly.  It was what we learned in school, it was commonly used in hospitals and clinics around the world, the R.I.C.E. principle has been around since the 1970s and it just seemed to make sense.

But if we look at the available research on the topic of icing, there actually isn’t much solid evidence of its efficacy for injuries.  And in fact, some of the new research seems to suggest that icing may actually DELAY recovery.

Interestingly enough, even the person that coined the R.I.C.E. principle, Dr. Gabe Mirkin who is a sports medicine doctor and professor at the University of Maryland, has changed his tune, admitting that ice is no longer a good idea.  Bed rest has been debunked for some time now and it’s now relative rest instead where one should avoid strenuous aggravating activity but still engage in active, light movement.

Ice may be bad because it blocks the human body’s natural healing mechanism: inflammation.

We are naturally inclined to think that inflammation and swelling is bad.  After all, we’ve been icing injuries and taking ANTI-inflammatory medications for decades!

But inflammation and swelling is an essential part of healing in the body.  In fact, it is the first step in the scientifically recognized 3 Stages of Healing: Inflammation, Tissue Repair, Remodelling.  Any time a muscle or any other tissue injury occurs, your immune system sends inflammatory cells called macrophages which release a substance called IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) to the damaged area to kick start the healing process.  However, when ice is applied, the arrival of macrophages is delayed, which in turn means that the normal first stage of healing mechanism is delayed.

Post-injury, local redness and heat are caused by increased blood flow. Swelling is the result of the increased movement of fluid and white blood cells into the area of inflammation.  So we actually want these things to occur not inhibit them!

This also means that commonly prescribed and over-the-counter medications like corticosteroids and Ibuprofen which suppress the immune system and inflammation, actually BLOCK healing.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve been changing my tune with patients too and encouraging them to follow a Movement, Elevation, Traction, Compression and Heat or M.E.T.C.H. principle.

For example, if you sprain your ankle:

  1. perform regular light range of motion exercises with the foot,
  2. keep it elevated,
  3. have someone gently stretch out (traction) the ankle joint,
  4. compress it with either elastic tubing, a TENSOR bandage or compression socks and
  5. consider applying heat for short intervals instead.

So while ice may still serve a purpose in dealing with pain, it may be doing an overall disservice by increasing your time for recovery.

How To Deal With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Any time someone has pain, numbness and tingling in the hand(s), we have to think about the possibility of carpal tunnel syndrome.  The carpal tunnel is significant because the median nerve, which supplies muscles to your hand and fingers, runs under this tunnel.  It is formed by the boundaries of the flexor retinaculum (carpal ligament), which serves as the roof, and the carpal bones of the hand, which serves as the floor. Along with the median nerve, there are nine other tendons in this tunnel, whose respective muscles flex the wrist and fingers.

This condition is most commonly found in sports/activities/occupations that involve forceful and/or repetitive hand movements (eg. keyboarders, assembly-line workers, carpenters, butchers, work where hand-held devices are subject to vibration, cycling, racquet sports, knitting). It can also occur in women who are pregnant.

Common Signs and Symptoms:

Burning, tingling, pins and needles, and/or numbness in the thumb and first 2 fingers that may radiate up the arm
Weakness in the hand when gripping
Pain that is worse at night
Pain with sustained wrist flexion or repetitive wrist movements

Why does it happen?

Compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel can occur due to several reasons. Firstly, it can be caused by repetitive strain/overuse of the wrist muscles causing thickness and scarring of the tendon sheaths or inflammation and swelling of the tendons themselves. Secondly, it can be caused by direct trauma to the wrist, resulting in swelling. Lastly, it can be caused by systemic factors, such as pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes. In all three cases, the symptoms arise due to compression on the median nerve. If this syndrome is caught early and treated appropriately, a full recovery is likely. However, should symptoms last longer than 12 months and/or the syndrome isn’t being treated effectively, surgery to release the carpal ligament may be indicated.

If you are trying to avoid surgery, physiotherapy can help to reduce your pain and inflammation, increase your wrist/finger movement and strength, and help educate on what positions you should avoid. If you have had surgery, we can help with your post-operative pain and swelling, decrease your physical scar and the scar tissue that will form, help desensitize the nerve, and assist you in regaining your functional strength.

Therapeutic modalities that we use in the clinic during treatment to help with pain and inflammation/swelling may include ultrasound, laser, electrical current, ice, and taping.  In some case, wearing a night splint may also be suggested. We will also provide you with a specific exercise program including stretching and strengthening for you to do at home. It’s important for us to work together to maximize your function and get you back to doing the things you love.

Leanna Taggio, Physiotherapist

 

4 Reasons Swimming May Be Causing Your Shoulder Pain

I never used to enjoy swimming.  I would sink like an anchor whenever I tried and would be envious of other people I saw who floated effortless through the water.  Can some of you relate?

3 years ago, I began my journey into triathlon racing.  At first, I could barely swim a single length of 25m without being totally gassed!  Online information and videos helped me piece together an understanding of proper swim technique and slowly I got better and better.

But then I joined a Masters swim squad locally and after a few weeks of intense volume that I was not accustomed to, I got injured.  A shoulder injury to be precise.  Part of the reason of course was that I was not prepared to do 90-minute practices of over 3000m.  But as I delved more into swimming technique, I realized that my stroke was still flawed and the combination of poor technique and excessive volume were holding me back.

Here are the 4 freestyle stroke flaws that may be hurting your shoulder as well!

  1. Crossing the midline – I see this alot when I observe people during lane swimming at the community centre.  Imagine a line that cuts your body into equal left and right halves that extends from your head down to the feet.  As your arm recovers over the water and extends forward into the catch phase of the stroke, it should not cross the midline.  Instead, the arm should line up with your shoulder joint.  When you cross over, you place excessive stress on your shoulder joint and can create impingement pain.  If repeated hundreds of times while swimming laps, it will start to wear down on your rotator cuff tendons.  
  2. Thumb first vs fingertips first entry – This is also commonly seen in swimmer and makes Problem #1 above even worse.  A thumb-first entry results in excessive internal rotation of the shoulder further aggravating the impingement.  Conversely, focusing on a fingertip entry so that the hand enters in a more neutral shoulder position will greatly help prevent shoulder problems and set you up for a more effective catch and pull.   

    Nice finger tip entry!

  3. Pushing down on the water – Not only does pushing down with your extended arm result in a less effective pull through, it also puts a large stress on the shoulder joint.  It also has the effect of lifting your head and torso up while sinking your legs down thereby creating more drag in water.

    This swimmer has pressed her arm straight down to the bottom!

  4. Pulling through with a straight arm – Too much stress is placed on the shoulder joint when a straight arm is used to pull through the water.  While you might think that using a ‘bigger paddle’ will be more effective, it creates more stress on your tiny rotator cuff muscles.  Instead, a proper bent arm pull will engage larger muscles like your pecs and lats to help generate the pulling force.  You may see some Olympic sprinters very effectively pulling with straight arms but remember you are not an Olympian with freakish body genetics!  For the average Joe/Jane swimmer, sticking with safe biomechanics is a better idea.

If you have been having shoulder issues from swimming lately, then it is quite likely that there is something wrong with your stroke that is causing the problem.  Have someone watch you while you swim both above the water and below to give you some critical feedback.  If you can, a video recording is very instructive.  A GoPro camera or even some of the latest smartphones which are waterproof can be used.   When I developed my own shoulder pain from swimming it was extremely frustrating and took almost two months of minimal swimming and rehab.   As always, prevention is the best medicine!

Now that I’ve fixed my own stroke flaw (I was pulling with a straight arm), I am swimming pain free with greater efficiency and for longer distances.

Athletes understand athletes…until next time!

Dr. Keith