How To Stop Your Legs  From Sinking

The  Ultimate Guide To Balance & Alignment In Freestyle Swimming

Fixing Your Sinking Leg Problems

Root Cause 3: 

Lifting Your Head to Breathe

 

You have the best chance of keeping your hips and legs up on the surface when your head is down in the water. The moment you introduce the breath, the chance of your hips dropping increases. 

You can have the perfect head position through your stroke cycle. But if you lift or over rotate your head when you turn for your breath, your legs will drop. 

The lifting of your head to breathe is a chicken and egg situation. Dropped hips will cause you to lift your head and lifting your head will cause your hips to drop. 

The lifting of your head to breathe is a chicken and egg situation. Dropped hips will cause you to lift your head and lifting your head will cause your hips to drop. 

As we talked about in the previous section, when your eyes look downwards your mouth sits at the same level as your forehead. So to get your breath your head doesn’t need to lift for your mouth to clear the water. And as a result your hips stay in alignment. 

But, your sunken hips will pull your mouth deeper in the water. + of your head causes your hips to drop further which will cause you to lift your head even higher. It can become a vicious cycle! 

Here’s a video I did  with Dave Erickson from Endurance Hour a few years ago that explains it. Try to not to laugh while I almost drown 🙂 

 

Why It Happens

There are two common reasons why you’re lifting your head for the breath. 

{1} Your Hips & Feet are Too Low 

  • It’s caused by your dropped hips and legs. They’re pulling your mouth down deeper than your forehead so to take in a good breath you have to lift your head. 

{2} You’re Still Lifting Your Head

  • If your hips are in a good position and you’re still lifting your head, your primitive brain is to blame. You lift your head because you lack the confidence to keep your mouth close to the surface of the water. Your primitive brain and it’s survival instinct says; 

 “Dude, you’ll breathe in water if you’re this close, we need to get way away from here to get in a good breath” 

If you don’t feel like you can get a good enough breath in without choking, you will lift your head high. High enough to a point where your primitive brain is comfortable no water will go  in along with the air.  The higher you lift, the bigger the hip drop effect will be. 

How to Fix it:

First determine which is the likely cause for lifting your head. A video analysis will help you work out if the root cause is because your hips are low due to one of the 15 root causes. 

If it’s a confidence problem with keeping your mouth close to the water here’s what you can do. 

{1} Practice Crocodile Breathing

Getting water in your mouth is an unavoidable fact of swimming. You’re surrounded by the stuff. It’s pretty much impossible not to take in some water at some point. Crocodile breathing helps you to combat your fear reflex. It will help get you comfortable breathing when you have water in your mouth. 

{1} Find a spot in the pool that you can stand comfortably. 

{2} Slowly lower your head into the water so half of your mouth is below the surface of the water and half of it is above the surface

{3} Practice breathing “over the top of the water” in your mouth. Slowly get comfortable breathing when you have water in your mouth. 

 

 

{2} Progress To Side Crocodile Breaths 

{1} Find a spot in the pool that you can stand comfortably. 

{2} Rotate your head as if you were getting into the side breath position you would liket to hit when you swim freestyle. 

{3} Slowly lower your head into the water so one eye, one ear and half of your mouth is below the surface of the water and half of your face is above the surface. 

{4} Practice breathing “over the top of the water” in your mouth. Slowly get comfortable breathing when you have water in your mouth. 

 

{3} Move To The Side Kick Drill 

Each of these drills will help you get confident keeping your mouth close to the surface when you take a breath. 

Growing this confidence usually takes time. Your primitive brain is taking care of your survival by making sure you don’t breathe in water. So fixing it is often not as simple as flipping a switch or doing these drills once. You’ll literally need to rewire your brain to be ok with the risky breath position. 

Children pick it up faster because their primitive brain hasn’t been active for as long as yours.  At the end of the day, the more you repeat it the more comfortable you will become. 

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