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Data Source: Zamparo P, Bonifazi M (2013). Bioenergetics of cycling sports activities in water.

Coded for Swimming Science by Cameron Yick

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Friday Interview: Dr. Dennis O'Connell Discusses Grunting and Strength

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education, credentials, experience, etc.).
I started out becoming a certified physical education teacher in NY for grades K-12 and immediately pursued graduate education in Exercise Physiology at Kent State University. I was able to work in the field of heart disease prevention at Iowa State University and then returned to the University of Toledo to earn a Ph.D in Exercise Physiology. From there I moved into a position where I was Director of Research and Functional Electrical Stimulation for individuals with spinal cord injuries. I was then able to move into teaching Exercise Physiology to physical therapy students at UTHSC-San Antonio where I also became a physical therapist. For the past 20-years I have been a professor and Endowed Chair of Physical Therapy at Hardin-Simmons University. Along the way I have picked up a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and am certified in Strength and Conditioning and Ergonomics.

2. You recently published an article on grunting and tennis serve velocity. What do we know and not know about grunting and performance?
Interestingly, there is published research on shouting during grip strength testing and during a kiap used in martial arts. Those studies show increases in force when subjects vocalized. Prior to our tennis study, we performed two research projects using grunting during the isometric dead lift. This involved pulling up on an immovable bar (and force transducer) at the level of subjects shins. The increases in force were small and similar to the grip studies mentioned above.
 
3. What did your study look at?
Our latest published study on tennis examined whether grunting or not-grunting increased serve and forehand velocities in male and female D-II and D-III tennis players. We had all subjects grunt as loudly as possible before the study began. During the study they had to grunt at a decibel 90% of what they achieved prior to the study for the trial to be counted as good. Conversely, in the non-grunt condition, the dB level had to be less than 30% of maximal dB level.

We also attached a device to the players racquets that measured force during a static or isometric forehand and serve.

4. What were the results of your study?
Our research shows that regardless of gender (we had approx equal numbers of males and females), perception about grunting (+ or -) or grunting experience, grunting increased serve and forehand velocities by about 5mph. This was a field study conducted on the tennis court.

Isometric serve and forehand forces increased from 15-20% with grunting.

5. Do you think yelling and grunting and yelling result in the same improvement?
I would guess that yelling and grunting yield similar results. By the way, we measured pectoralis muscle and external oblique muscle activity and found that they increased with grunting. Thus, there appears to a connection between brainstem cells that regulate inspiration and the motor cortex causing enhanced muscle recruitment with deep exhalation.

6. Do you think these results to other sports?
I would guess that yelling or grunting would cause increases in forces, velocities, etc. in dynamic sports and to a lesser extent in isometric or static force production situations.

7. How can future research on this subject improve our knowledge?
If would be nice to examine the brain during grunting and force production to learn if my hypothesis of increased communication between the breathing and motor control centers increases during forced or deep exhalation.

8. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?
We have completed a study in the lab where we had D-III male and female tennis players push against a force place mimicking a forehand stroke. We asked them to either deeply exhale, deeply inhale, perform a straining or Valsalva maneuver and grunt. Forces increased significantly with grunting and these forces were not different than when forcefully (and moreo quietly) exhaling. Forces with deep inhalation or during straining were significantly less. Thus, one may be able to substitute deep exhalation for grunting and still get the same increased force production. We are writing this study up for publication and hope to officially share the results with the scientific community in the near future.

We have also just completed a study of female collegiate soccer and volleyball players who were tested before and after practice with a test battery called the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). It has been shown in some populations to predict who would get injured during a season. Since players are injured during practice or games, we thought it would be novel to see what happened to the FMS scores if they were fatigued (which is when injuries happen). Interestingly, their scores stayed the same or improved. They did not worsen as we expected. Additionally, we did not find this test to be predictive of injuries in our female sample. Both of these studies have been submitted for presentation at an upcoming national physical therapy meeting.

We are currently performing a study on windmill assembly workers where we are testing the effects of their current static stretching routine vs. a dynamic ballistic warm-up. We are hoping that we might create a better warm-up for them to prevent work-related injuries.

Friday Interview: Dr. Sébastien Girold Discusses Electrical Stimulation and Strength Training

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education, credentials, experience, etc.).
My name is Sebastian Girold, I'm 36 years old, I'm french. I've two master degrees : one in Human Kinesiology and one in Physical Conditioning. I've a doctorate degree in Sport Physiology. I spent 7 years teaching at the university of sport sciences in France but unfortunately it wasn't possible to get a permanent contract so as I'm also a swimming coach, I decided to spend 2 years in Switzerland to train national and international level swimmers. In 2010 I decided to restart some studies in Physiotherapy to enhance my knowledge on human body and sports injuries, so now I'm also a physiotherapist.

2. You published an article on strength training and electrical stimulation for swimmers. 
First, could you briefly explain what we know about strength training and electrical stimulation for swimmers?
So we know that an electrical stimulation protocol to enhance physical strength on the upper limbs for swimmers can improve physical strength or maintain it during 4 to 8 weeks. After this duration there is a significant difference between electrical stimulation and classical strength training with weight and barbells which is more efficient.

3. What were the pertinent findings of your results?
So as I said electrical stimulation is a good way to enhance physical strength or to maintain it during a short duration, but it can not stand for a classical strength training program in a longer duration. Nevertheless it can be use as a complementary to a strength training program to potentiate it. At last what is really interesting here is that if a swimmer present a little trouble or pain on a shoulder for example, you can use the electrical stimulation instead of a strength training to avoid an excess of load and to allow a recovery of is injury without loosing strength performances.


4. Now, your study looked at fairly good sprint swimmers (~27.8 50-m free time), do you think your results would have been similar for distance swimmers or other stroke specialist?
I always considered that speed and intensity was the key of success in swimming. So for every kind of swimmers and every distances I think that enhancing physical strength could be interesting. Of course it should be less efficient for long distance swimmers than for sprinters, because over long distances the performance depends on aerobic capacity more than on physical strength directly, nevertheless the speed that long swimmers are reaching, and the fact that most of them are also able to swim fast over short distances, indicate that physical strength improvement is also interesting for them, as swimming speed is directly related to swimmer's strength.

5. Do you think there are possibilities for using strengthening or electrical stimulation on more body parts than the arms? If so, how do you suggest incorporating this?
Of course I think that we can use electrical stimulation on every body parts. Nevertheless, except for breaststroke for which one legs are nearly as important as the arms in the propulsion, the strokes depends more of the arms, this is the reason why I decided to use it on the upper limbs. On the legs for me and with my experience as a coach I prefer to use of it as a recovery tool.

6. You mention potentially using electrical stimulation during heavy training periods, do you still find this the case and how could one incorporate this?
I think that during heavy training periods electrical stimulation should be used to stand for some dry-land strength training session, principally as I said before to avoid on over load and to prevent or avoid a risk of injury. I also often use it as a recovery tool with recovery massage programs during these kind of periods

7. Do you think other electrical stimulation parameters would provide better benefit?
Yes of course, you can play on different parameters to provide better benefit as intensity, stimulation frequency, recovery duration etc... The most important is to respect the swimmer sensations, each program needs ton be personalized.

8. Neric (2009) looked at electrical stimulation and recovery and found swimming provided a greater decrease in blood lactate. Do you think electrical stimulation can be used for recovery? 
Yes as I said before and I recommend it maybe more than as a strength enhancing mean.

9. I've also heard others (I believed coach Bob Gillet) discuss electrical stimulation being better for recovery than swimming, by providing neural recovery, what do you think about that? Also, any thoughts or have you seen/used the Marc PRO(TM)?
So I never used of the Marc PRO, but I'm definitely agree with the potential of electrical stimulation as a very efficient recovery tool. Is it more efficient than swimming for recovery personally, I don't know, but I'm sure that it depends on the swimmer. The key of everything in every sports is to respect the own capacity and metabolism of every athlete, which is different between one to an other, and also depends on the kind of solicitation and the level of training and fatigue of course.

10. Back to strengthening, there is some debate in swimming about the transference of resistance training, do you think strength training transfers to swimming? 
Yes I'm sure that strength training can be transfer to swimming the only one condition is that strength training program should not enhance the body density. If the body density is significantly modify by the strength training program which would induce an important hypertrophy for example as body building it would influence the swimmer's buoyancy by reducing it that would change is technique and reduce is efficiency. The other important point is to respect the swimmer's flexibility, if the strength training program develop an important rigidity that will reduce swimmer's stroke length and again reducing is efficiency

11. You note the strength training group in your study had a greater improvement in distance per stroke, do you think those seeking a longer stroke would benefit more from strength training?
It could not be possible to say that because you can not maintain such a high level of strength on a longer distance than during a sprint. When the swimming distance is more important you automatically reduce your distance per stroke because of the fatigue of the anaerobic metabolism that do not allow you to maintain the same power at each movement

12. What are some some current unknowns about resistance training and swimming?
Most of time we don't know which kind of training program using and when. I think that the most important in designing resistance training programs for swimmer is to respect the swimmer's capacities. To avoid significant modifications on body density and flexibility. Then the duration of a strength training session should not lasting more than 45 minutes using heavy loads. Two to 3 sessions per week are enough for a beginner and for elite athletes 5 sessions a week seems to be good. I really think that know a simmer and especially a sprinter can not reach is most high potential if he or she doesn't follow a dry-land strength training program to potentiate the work performed in the water. Every swimming coach should really include strength training programs in there training sessions, even for young swimmer at the condition that it would respect swimmer's capacities and swimming special features. 

13. What do we know about resistance training and swimming?
We know that it efficient to enhance swimming speed especially over short distances

14. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?
I'm still interest in enhancing swimming speed training methods, nevertheless I'm actually working on injury prevention, especially on the swimmer's shoulder, cause I consider that a key of a good training and efficient training program is also to allow the swimmer to do not be hurt.

Kinesiotape for Length, Strength, and Timing

Kineisotape remains highly a debated treatment. During the summer Olympics, taping had renewed scrutiny due to its popularity in the Olympics.  In truth, the evidence has been mixed, though still incomplete.  In this post, we’ll look some research that does exist to better understand the evidence.  

Keep in mind that research does not account for nuances in how tape is applied, as I can tell you firsthand that the craftsmanship of trained clinicians far exceeds “locker room” self-application.  This may be one area in which clinicians are ahead of researchers.  I’ve recently spent a lot of time volunteering in a clinic recently that frequently uses Kinesiotape.  One point noting is that clinicians with formal training from tape companies have far more techniques in their arsenal than someone who just throws tape on areas that feel tight or sore.  If you fully immerse yourself in the system, there’s actually quite a depth of thought in the techniques, even if those techniques have not been tested by formal research.

For this article, I’ll use Kinesiotape as a catchall term, but recognize that different brands and methods of similar tape exist (Leukotape, Rocktape, etc), along with more restrictive methods such as McConnell taping.    For previous discussion on taping, see Tape Addicts and Shoulder Taping



Williams (2012) conducted a meta-analysis of previous Kinesiotaping studies, initially surveying ninety six studies but including only ten that met sufficient quality standards for additional analysis.  They examined these studies to examine taping’s effect on pain, range of motion, strength, and proprioception.

Undoubtedly the primary reason for anyone using Kinesiotape is due to pain.  Authors found only one study out of ten in which Kinesiotaping was shown to improve pain, and even so, the result was clinically insignificant.  Note this study was conducted on car accident whiplash sufferers with neck pain, so it’s unclear whether it transfers to repetitive use athletic injuries.   Further, pain is often treated indirectly and Kinesiotape may be effective for general effects on muscle length, strength, and proprioception.

Perhaps the most relevant study on range of motion is Hsu (2009), which studied baseball players with shoulder impingement.  Most swimmers aren’t using tape unless previously or currently symptomatic, so studies on pain free athletes are perhaps less relevant. Authors measured scapular orientation at twenty four different positions and concluded “the effect of KT is likely to be trivial, or even possibly harmful for certain measurements, and therefore would not be recommended for use in treatment of shoulder impingement syndrome.”  More study is needed on range of motion due to the wide mix of joints and patient health statuses included in these studies, at times with conflicting results.

Strength results appear promising, as five strength measures collected in the studies were found to increase significantly.  Notably, Hsu found significant strength increases in the lower trapezius strength when taped.  No studies showed any strength loss resulting from Kinesiotape.  Still, there is insufficient evidence to definitively conclude Kinesiotaping is or is not effective at improving strength.

Studies also measured proprioception.  Chang (2010) measured grip strength perception error and found small benefit in healthy subjects, while Halseth(2004) found no significant effects on perception of ankle positioning.  Subsequent to the publication of Williams’ meta-analysis, Change (2012) found proprioception improvements in both healthy subjects and baseball pitchers with medial epicondylitis. 

Conclusion
Overall the evidence is incomplete, but not definitive in either direction.  Most notably, Kinesiotaping has not been tested thoroughly in combination with other procedures.  It’s possible that taping may have different effects done as a standalone treatment versus when used to reinforce a clinical procedure (spinal manipulation, massage, dry needling, etc).

My personal opinion is that Kinesiotape may have actual effects but the mechanisms are still unknown.  It may take several years to separate taping from the methods that it is frequently paired with.  It is still too early to call it a placebo or alternatively, a miracle treatment.  That said, because much anecdotal evidence exists with very little observed side effects (other than tape addiction), Kinesiotape deserves consideration as a method to improve muscle length, strength, and timing, especially when used to support other interventions.   

References

  1. Williams S, Whatman C, Hume PA, Sheerin K. Kinesio taping in treatment and prevention of sports injuries: a meta-analysis of the evidence for itseffectiveness.  Sports Med. 2012 Feb 1;42(2):153-64. doi: 10.2165/11594960-000000000-00000.
  2. Chang HY, Wang CH, Chou KY, Cheng SC.  Could forearm Kinesio Taping improve strength, force sense, and pain in baseball pitchers with medial epicondylitis?  Clin J Sport Med. 2012 Jul;22(4):327-33. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e318254d7cd.
  3. Chang HY, Chou KY, Lin JJ, Lin CF, Wang CH.  Immediate effect of forearm Kinesio taping on maximal grip strength and force sense in healthy collegiate athletes.  Phys Ther Sport. 2010 Nov;11(4):122-7. Epub 2010 Aug 1.
  4. Halseth T. McChesney JW. DeBeliso M. et al. The effects of Kinesio taping on proprioception at the ankle. J Sports Sei & Med 2004; 3(1): 1-7.
  5. Hsu YH. Chen WY. Lin HC. et al. The effects of taping on scapular kinematics and muscle performance in baseball players with shoulder impingement syndrome. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2009; 19 (6): 1092-9.
By Allan Phillips. Allan and his wife Katherine are heavily involved in the strength and conditioning community, for more information refer to Pike Athletics.