Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Darned Bilateralism

I'm swimming along in the Saturday workout, enjoying the fact that my left hand is about 90% back to normal in my stroke. Just my index finger still doesn't have the strength to pull after being in a splint for so long and tends to bend on hand entry and catch. That will come back though.

I notice something odd though happening in my right hand. My right index finger is also lagging through the water, mimicking the damaged left hand! With all of my force of will, I can barely get the stupid right finger to straighten out, even though there's nothing wrong with it.

I think this illustrates why swimming can be so frustratingly difficult at times. When we run, our hands are pretty much working in parallel processes, swinging or pumping by our side. But when we swim, our hands have to do completely different things. One is pushing while the other is pulling, one is relaxing while the other needs to be engaged. It's like the old pat-the-tummy-rub-the-head thing, and can be really hard to sort out. In swimming, it's often only the force of our will that can improve our stroke. Swimming is a mental sport, we have to be able to bend all of our focus toward making our body do something that is often not very intuitive. It's not normal to have straight knees and floppy ankles, for instance. We can only accomplish that and achieve a good kick by making our body do something it's not really used to doing on land.

Swimming, it's all mental. You can take that as a double entendre!

1 comment:

janasmama said...

There is a lot of things going on while swimming. In my reflection of how it makes me feel I realize how many different sensations the water can give at different times. Sometimes relaxing, sometimes thick and heavy, sometimes very.....hmm....wet?

Anyways, swimming is one of the hardest things I've done but it is enjoyable all at the same time.