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USwim Openwater and Harris & Ross

Posted on April 25th, 2016

Harris & Ross and USwim Openwater have joined forces and as part of the partnership, you will be able to find us once a month at USwim events, holding workshops in Salford Quays and Knutsford!

The first workshop will be on the 23rd April and the next will be on the 21st May.

Come and pop down, have a look and take the plunge in the docks!

For more information on USwim, check our their website here.

Here is the first newsletter of Harris & Ross’ collaboration with USwim Openwater.


By Rob Harris, Consultant Sports Physiotherapist, Harris & Ross

Issue 1 – Swimmers Back

‘Swimmers back’ is a stiffness in the facet joints of the lower back, very common in all swimmers but particularly long distance swimmers and Triathletes. The problem for most people who take up swimming is they come from sedentary jobs.

Being sedentary, such as sitting at a desk shortens the muscle in the front of your groin called your iliopsoas or your hip flexor because your hip sits in a flexed position. When you go to lengthen this out in the front crawl stroke it drags the front of the pelvis downwards causing an increased arch in the base of your back and jamming the back against the stops that prevent you from extending backwards too far.

As we swim more to improve, we are putting our back into a degree of extension that it is not really used to in everyday life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, if we stretch the hip flexors to allow the space of hip extension to accommodate the kick in swimming. If we don’t have the hip extension then we extend through the back, and worse (shock horror), we extend through the back and if our hip flexors are tight, we drop our hips lower in the water and slow ourselves down.

This is why so often when we swim for long distances or we swim repeatedly, we get that stiff classically stiff lower back; not that classic “oh, my back has gone” type back, but a “oh, my back is stiff” and as it gets tighter it can actually get quite catchy, to the point where sometimes you are walking along the street and you can feel your back almost give! This is where the two bones rub together almost on the ‘stops’, because they are being held in such close apposition by the positional changes affected by these muscles.

The answer to all of this is two easy stretches:

1) Lower back and glut rotational stretch which opens out the facet joints which are causing our pain in a rotational way.

Exercise 1

2) Even more importantly a hip flexor and rectus femoris stretch which nullify the extension created in a back at root cause, either by nullifying the amount of shortness created in the psoas by desk work and certainly by nullifying the fatigues effects of psoas and rectus femoris caused by lots of swimming.Exercise 2

Hold each stretch for 3 x 18 second holds once a day, particularly after swimming.

If you stick to these two easy stretches, for the most part you should nullify all of swim-based back pain and even more importantly should stop your hips.

From dropping throughout the stroke creating better body position and making you swim faster. Result!

If you wish to book an appointment to enhance your physical well being contact, Harris & Ross Healthcare on 0161 832 9000.

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     Congratulations to patient, Peter for completing @RotterdamtTri at the weekend! #RotterdamTri #ITUWorldTriathlonGrandFinal #swimbikerun  Wishing patient and triathlete, Dean Evans the best of luck for this Sunday's #CorporateCupofTriathlon in #StokeonTrent! Here he tells us how he balances training, triathlons and a full time job #Triathlons #Triathlete #WeekendWarrior

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