A bit of a setback

It’s September now, the best time of the year for new resolutions. Mine was to get healthier, fitter and faster (and better-looking and better at banjo and better at baking bread and better at Swedish and better at replying to emails …). The plan was to progressively start doing some strengthening exercises, work on my technique (head down, better breathing, find my best stroke rate, work on stroke symmetry, etc.) and most importantly, not getting injured.

Well, it’s not a big one, but frustrating nonetheless. About three weeks ago I took out my weights from under the sofa and did about 10 minutes of biceps/triceps exercises, making sure to not use the heavy ones straight away. A couple of days later I head to the pool to do a test session, the Red Mist session (once again inspired by Swim Smooth). It consists in 10x400m starting on different intervals. I wanted to do 4×400 @ (1:29/100) + 3×400 @ (1:28/100) + 2×400 @ (1:27/100) + 1×400 @ (1:26/100).

I’ve done this set on a couple of occasions before, going down to 1:24/100m for the last 400m. But this was like six months ago … long story slightly shorter, this was maybe too much speed for me at that stage, and by the end of the set I started feeling a pinch around my right elbow. I’ve had elbow pain last year during my Channel training and it disappeared after a week or so without having to do much about it, so the situation wasn’t of much concern.

Except that since last year I’ve become a believer in more stretching. I figured I would try to be a good boy and stretch the pain away. I stretched my forearm two-three times a day, applied some Voltaren cream on my elbow twice a day and every now and then put some ice on it. A week later I got back into the water for the Triathlon Väst Club Championships (in Delsjön, with a wetsuit, I finished second, behind Ted Molin, next time I’ll try with TWO wetsuits!). It was 1500m all-out (-ish). My elbow seemed to do okay, a little pinching feeling persisting through the 20 minutes of the swim, not better, not worse.

It’s been nearly two weeks since then and it still feels the same, the pinching feeling comes and goes. I swim once or twice a week without pushing it. I keep stretching, using Voltaren (albeit less often now) and checking how it feels by rotating my arms and mimicking a freestyle-catch whilst sitting in front of my computer at work. I now read a bit online and found out that an explanation might be stiffness in my back. I looked for trigger points between the latissimus dorsi and the shoulder blade (supposed to be quite deep) and sure enough it was really sensitive on one side but not the other. I tried applying pressure on this point, massaging it slightly, trying to not overdo it …. and it seemed to do the trick for a few hours … but the pinching feeling still comes back every now and then … and I’m afraid to go swimming and make it worse …

Has someone read through all this?!?

“Mimicking a freestyle-catch while definitely NOT in water”

To summarize, I’m trying all the following:

- Stretching my forearm
- Stretching the lattissimus dorsi
- Applying pressure between the lattissimus dorsi and the should blade
- Voltaren cream on the elbow
- Occasional icing

The symptoms are:

- Pinching feeling on the outside of the elbow (tennis elbow?)
- The pinching feeling kind of comes and goes, after resting, massaging, stretching …
- Clicking when my arm is extended and I rotate my forearm around its axis (forgot to mention this point before)

The possible causes:

- That one weight session?
- Pushing too hard too soon in the pool?
- Biceps/triceps imbalance?

I’m afraid of doing more harm than good by combining all the aforementioned solutions and/or unintentionally overdoing it … does anyone have good advice on this? There’s two weeks left until the 24-hour swim which I really don’t want to miss. I might just keep stretching, not swim until then and go running instead to keep myself from making it worse … what do you think?


About Sylle

Swimmer specialised in relatively cold water and relatively long distances, English Channel Swimmer 2009, Butterfly across the English Channel in 2013
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