Courtesy of Jakka Shemeikka
Posterior Oblique Sling Enhancing Swimming Performance was originally a part of Mini article series called Swim Speed Essentials. Part one raised some questions, so therefore parts II and III were made. If you are not familiar with the earlier parts, you will find them here: Part I, Part II
No gimmicks, just progression
In parts one and two, I went over the basic idea of Posterior Oblique Sling (POS) exercise for swimmers. During the writing process, I found out, that it is not easy trying to explain new concepts in writing. I’m hoping nobody was fooled to think, that it is only some gimmick. It is about functional lines, which we should recognize more in our training. There are no contact surfaces in the water, so the athlete needs to find them within his body. The body consists of connection points like pelvis, scapula, core, and functional lines that act like a rubber band, releasing free elastic energy for the movement.
Many times we end up training only isolated muscles or muscle groups and think that it would be enough. It is not. By doing so, an athlete can develop quite far, and traditional training has a clear function in exercise progression. Still, we need to learn how to use the whole functional line for our benefit if we want to reach new levels of performance.
The body is a puzzle of rubber bands. These rubber bands, functional lines, are full of elastic energy. With the right timing in movement, that energy is just waiting to burst. In swimming, we have learned to call this phenomenon relaxation. It is simply a natural movement that the very best swimmers are able to perform. It looks effortless, and it just feels right for the athlete. We are not born with the ability of natural movement, it comes along the way. For some, it comes from a carryover from another sport, and for some just playing with other kids in the yard. When we analyze natural moment from swimming performance addition to basic analyze, where we look at numbers, we create an understanding why the best athletes are able to perform at their level. In January, I was in Sweden lecturing at World Aquatic Development Conference. It was good to hear so many professionals already talking about natural movement. We are on the verge of change.
Posterior Oblique Sling activation is a part of the natural movement, and as so many other natural moment patterns, it seems that we have forgotten many of them. We do not have to go into a very advanced level of movement to find difficulties. Just look at people walking. Walking with proper technique can be difficult for modern people. It shouldn’t be.
Kicking as a part of a bigger equation
Posterior Oblique Sling offers us a different perspective on kicking. It underlines the importance of active kick in both directions. Actually, even more than that. It makes the upkick more meaningful when the whole stroke cycle starts from it. Still, it is quite rare to see a fully active kick in both directions. Usually, the front line is dominant, and it shows in a way that the legs tend to bend excessively during the upkick.
Pretty popular dryland exercise is fast kicking in a push-up position, while legs are on Swiss Ball. Often times you can see this exercise done on the pool deck. Nothing wrong with the exercise itself. I would still argue that in most cases, the front line is already dominant over the back line. In this perspective, if the goal is to create more propulsive and supportive kick, it would be more beneficial to activate the back line instead of the front line. This does not mean that you should do the same Swiss Ball exercise on your back. Just a rubber band resisted leg extension executed in an upright position would do the trick. Just like in POS exercise + you get the whole functional line activated.
Here are some additional instructions to go with the video (sorry for the echo). There are two ways
of using the POS exercise. One is for activation and the other for strengthening.
Example set for activation:
6 reps for each side + 2 x 50 m freestyle with easy speed
The idea is to activate the main muscles and gain better control of the technique. When the exercise is done right, athlete should feel improvement in body control, but especially in the kick and arm stroke.
Example set for strengthening with cable pulley (notice that both ends use the same weight stack) 3 x 8 reps for each side
Try to find the right amount of weights so that you can still control the core, pelvis and scapula.
Natural movement = Movement executed with a perfect timing, resulting in an optimal load
Optimal load distribution = Functional lines working in collaboration between each other
Functional line = String of muscles attached with fascia
Fascia = band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs
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