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Swim Energy Usage


RER Value Guide

Slow (0.7)
A1 band - warm-up, recovery, cool-down sets
Moderate (0.85)
A2 band - aerobic capacity sets
Intense (1.00)
A3 band - aerobic power, VO2max sets

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

Coded for Swimming Science by Cameron Yick

Freestyle data

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Functional Movement Screen Predicts Performance?

If you are a frequent reader of this website, you are well aware that the functional movement screen is a method primarily used in ground-based sports for predicting injuries (Functional Movement Screen Research: 2011 Summary and Review). The applicability of this screening is questionable for swimmers, as swimmers don't have the same stresses on the body as most ground-based sports, nonetheless a screening tool is likely beneficial for swimming, if only we knew what to look at!

Researchers at the University of Washington (specifically Dr. Brian Krabak) are looking at some factors which influence injury prevention in swimming. This vital research can likely help prevent injuries, but as a recent study indicates, this screening (functional movement screen] may also predict performance in track and field athletes.

Chapman (2013) notes:
"[H[iFMS [high functional movement screen score] had a significantly different change in performance from 2010 to 2011 (+0.41±2.50%, n=80) compared to LoFMS [low functional movement screen score] (-0.51±2.30%, p=0.03, n=41). Athletes with no asymmetries had a longitudinal improvement in performance (+0.60+2.86%, n=50) compared to athletes with at least one asymmetry (-0.26±2.10%, p=0.03, n=71). Athletes who scored 1 on the deep squat movement had a significantly different change in performance (-1.07±2.08%, n=22) vs. athletes who scored 2 (+0.13±2.28%, p=0.03, n=87) or 3 (+1.98±3.31%, p=0.001, n=12".

These results suggests improving asymmetries and the deep squat for track and field athletes, but is the functional movement test truly applicable for swimmers. Moreover, is the squat a determinant for success in swimming? We've discussed squats on Swimming Science (Dryland Mistake: Squat, More on Squatting), questioning the applicability. How much the squat transfers to swimming is still uncertain, but these results do imply a screening exercise (which we currently do not know) may help predict injuries as well as performance improvements in swimming. At Swimming Science, we are constantly perfecting our screening tools, as this is likely an important area in the future of swimming.

    1. Chapman RF, Laymon AS, Arnold T. Functional Movement Scores and Longitudinal Performance Outcomes in Elite Track and Field Athletes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2013 Apr 23. [Epub ahead of print] 
    2. Krabak BJ, Hancock KJ, Drake S. Comparison of dry-land training programs between age groups of swimmers. PM R. 2013 Apr;5(4):303-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2012.11.003. Epub 2013 Jan 29.

By Dr. G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science of Health from Purdue University. He is the founder of the Center of Optimal Restoration, head strength coach at Santa Clara Swim Club, creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.

Force Potential of the Early Vertical Forearm Part II

Last week the Force Potential of the Early Vertical Forearm was discussed . Unfortunately, knowing the definition does not necessarily cause improvement. Knowing is only half the battle!

Being able to adapt to and reduce potential flaws is essential for elite performance. Too often attention is given to the wrong area. For example, many coaches instruct the early vertical forearm, but the inhibitors may exist outside of the water that make these cues useless. It’s like yelling at a turtle to get up on its hind legs and dance- not physically possible!If something cannot be performed on land, then it is unlikely to occur in the water. This is not to say that performing the early vertical forearm repeatedly on land is a good idea, as this needlessly increases the risk of injury.  However,  screening to identify limitations is a mandatory step if coaches want their “EVF” cues to further their swimmers performance (rather than frustrate everyone involved.)

Deficiencies in muscle length, muscle strength, and muscle timing often prevent ideal movement. If a muscle is overactive, range of motion for the joint will be impaired. If it is weak, the body is unable to perform the movement properly. If it doesn’t have the muscle timing, then co-activation and aberrant movement exist, exacerbating and potentially inducing the aforementioned conditions. Much more about this can be found in the Swimmers Shoulder System or Troubleshooting publication with Allan Phillips (planned release date December 2012).

Another common mistake is to only consider the shoulder complex when addressing deficiencies. I believe that the shoulder is the first area to consider, as many of the answers are found in this joint. However, a joint by joint approach is necessary for maximum benefits. This typically means improving the joints proximal (cervical spine) and distal (thoracic spine) to the glenohumeral joint but could potentially be further away (hip or ankle). This makes it imperative to check for muscle length, strength, and timing at these joints as well.

The first step to assessing whether an athlete get achieve an EVF is determining whether the athlete has the necessary range of motion outside of the pool. If they do not, it is likely they have tight muscles (such as, potentially the infraspinatus) inhibiting this motion. However, assessing the muscle strength of the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizer muscles is key. Lastly, seeing if the athlete has control at the end range of internal and external rotation is key, as proper motor control or timing is essential for an proper early vertical forearm.

Next, check the neck range of motion, strength, and timing between the neck and the shoulder. If an athletes has any limitations at the neck, they could have impairments at the shoulder as many of the cervical muscles attach to the shoulder blades and collar bone.

The thoracic spine is a potential structure that limits EVF capability If the athlete has poor thoracic extension range, they it is likely their rotator cuff muscles have inadequate room for movement, potentially resulting in impingement. Also, if the thoracic spine and shoulder muscles do not work together, then as the shoulder flexes the thoracic spine may not respond with the necessary extension. Moreover, if the athlete performs flexion and internal rotation (EVF) the spine must slightly extend, allowing adequate rotator cuff and shoulder blade movement.


Think she has a good EVF?
As stated, the shoulder, neck, and thoracic spine are not the only areas for consideration. However, starting by investigating these areas often provides the most benefit. Make sure you are screening not only in the water, but also out of the water. This can be performed with the Swimmer Movement Screen.  Swim Sci now offer online movement screens via Skype, through which our expert team can help you and your swimmers to identify their structural limitations.
Only $50/screen

By G. John Mullen founder of the Center of Optimal Restoration, head strength coach at Santa Clara Swim Club, creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.