Top critical review
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Incomplete -- pretty graphics, but not user friendly.
on February 19, 2014
The publisher says,
“Swimming Anatomy will show you how to improve your performance by increasing muscle strength and optimizing the efficiency of every stroke.”
McCleod attempts to connect the anatomy of swimming with a guide for strengthening specific muscles, to ultimately improve swimming performance (including racing starts and turns). It’s not a textbook, though correct anatomical terms are consistently used, and the graphics are very pretty. So what’s not to like? Why am I so disappointed?
Answer: It’s the missing parts. I was hoping to see basic sequences for each stroke with the muscles noted for each stroke action (catch, pull, exit, recovery, etc.). Then I could go straight to specific exercises to help with my freestyle. But there are no such illustrations! Okay–maybe a list of muscles used for each stroke would help. No, sorry—both the chapter names and the “Exercise Finder” is organized around BODY PARTS (e.g. arms, legs, etc.), not muscle groups for the 4 basic strokes. For stroke techniques, there are no sequential diagrams–only long paragraphs, such as the esoteric 598 word description of the freestyle!
For all the beautiful anatomical workout pictures, there is no information on setting up any sort of regimen. There is no guidance for sets, repetitions, or weights to use. Many of the exercise motions are unclear due to lack of sequential pictures. For this reason, I feel that this book may do more harm than good for anyone without a background in athletic training or physiology and kineseology.
Take the section for the basic push-up (p. 64):
“(step) 3. Lower your body until your chest is 1 inch off the ground.”
Then page 65 has has a Safety Tip:
“Lowering the chest too far can cause extra stress on the anterior part of the shoulder. Those with a shoulder injury or a history of one should avoid this movement.”
This is vague and confusing. Step 3 says your chest should be 1 inch from the ground. So what are we to make of the safety tip–what is “too far”? Is ¾ inch vs. 1 inch a problem? The author could have done better—show the proper positions (head on and side view) for the push-up. I believe most knowledgeable trainers will recommend you stop the downward motion at the 90 degree elbow bend. The touch-the-chest method is “old school macho.” Exercises that use the full body weight as resistance are not simple. Warm-ups and proper technique are essential for injury-free performance.
Finally, there is no index or glossary! With the heavy use of anatomic and specific sports medicine terms, it can be daunting. For example, I was hoping to find some information specific to rotator cuff injury. There are references to the rotator cuff, but it takes some digging to find the true definition of this muscle group. The shoulder diagram doesn’t even call this out. It’s buried in the text. And there is no specific guidance on treating or preventing this common swimming injury.
To summarize, I feel Swimming Anatomy is appropriate ONLY for those with a solid sports science knowledge base. Without such training, you should consult other reliable sources on developing a workout routine, safely, without risk of injury.