ART for Swim Performance Enhancement

Way back in 2005, I wrote about how Active Release Technique (ART) could be used for performance enhancement in my post, Where there is Pain, There is Gain… . Using ART, I released decades of adhesions that were restricting my hips from moving properly. After loosening of them up, I was able to improve my speed dramatically in as little as two weeks!
This last week I asked my ART doc to check out my shoulder blades or scapulae due to a new focal point I learned through Total Immersion. This focal point was to move the scapula forward during arm recovery, so as to increase the elbow’s forward position during a proper elbow led recovery. As I practiced this, I became aware that I was performing an unfamiliar movement, and I immediately thought of using ART to make sure that my muscle structure around my shoulder blades remained loose. If they were tight and short, then those muscles would restrict the movement of the shoulder blade forward and either not let it get as far forward as possible, or start using too much energy in the muscles used in moving the shoulder blade forward.
My ART doc did some work on the muscles of the shoulder blades. The muscles that could restrict the movement of the shoulder blade forward are the rhomboids, erector spinae, lower trapezoids, and serratus anterior. Strangely, my left side was worse than my right; certainly there were restrictions there, but the left side was much more restricted. Once he released those muscles, my shoulder blade did feel looser.
However, in thinking further, I think this is correct – my left side does have a better elbow led recovery than my right, and it’s possible that this action did naturally cause more restriction in those muscles. Now I’m trying to even it out and so I anticipate more restrictions to pop up as I perform this unfamiliar movement. Still, with constant ART treatment, I should be able to fully integrate the correct movement for elbow led recovery while managing my muscles’ adaptation process. Without ART, I run the risk of letting the restrictions and adhesions grow, which could cause injury and movement issues later on.
ART is an amazing discipline and I enjoy exploring its performance enhancing capabilities in my training.

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