Why Is My Swimming Not Improving?

Swimming is a very technical sport and a sound technique generally cannot be self-taught. Unless you were lucky enough to have mum and dad throw you in the ‘deep end’ at a young age, getting a grasp of correct swimming technique can be a daunting and lengthy task. The fact is that no-one has perfect technique (well maybe some Olympians are an exception), and everyone can improve their swim technique through proper coaching.

4 Reasons why your swim may not be improving

Firstly, take a look at this video of Sun Yang, the 1500m world record holder. As you read the common mistakes below, come back and view this video to see the correct technique.

These are some of the most common mistakes I see with triathletes and/or leisure swimmers, and some insights into how you may address them.  Read more

Identifying and Treating Sports Injuries – Lessons Learnt

I write this article in the hope of providing some insight into how and why overtraining can occur, and how to identify this early on to ensure you are not injured for a prolonged period.

I will commence this post with 3 questions:

  1. Have you had an injury that’s hindered your training/racing?
  2. If so, do you know how and why the injury occurred?
  3. Thirdly and most importantly, do you now know how to avoid this type of injury reoccurring in the future?


If you answered no to question 1 then you are extremely fortunate and questions 2 and 3 are irrelevant. If you answered yes to question 1, but no to either 2 or 3 then this is definitely a concern.

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5 Tips For Faster Swimming

Many swimmers I see simply jump in the pool and slog it out lap after lap with no real purpose or direction to their training. In order to continue improving you need to have a strategy in place that addresses your weaknesses and/or problems with your technique. Here are my 5 tips on how to swim faster.

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5 Tips For Achieving Optimal Health

1. Acquire Good Gut Health

Having a balance of good bacteria in your gut is essential for a strong immune system and overall wellbeing. A healthy gut will aid digestion, promote nutrient uptake, regular bowel movements and weight loss. Eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yoghurt and Kombucha will assist in the maintenance of the natural balance of microorganisms (microflora) in the intestines. Another great product is Apple Cider Vinegar.

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The Recovery Phase of Training

It is now the off season for triathlon in the southern hemisphere. This is otherwise known as the transition or recovery phase of training. For the large majority of triathletes this means it’s time to rejuvenate and recover both physically and mentally. No matter when your key races occur (whether it be Cairns in June or Shepparton in Nov), the recovery phase is an essential part of any training program. For those who commenced racing in October and have continued through to March, it has been a long road. Here are my 8 tips for the triathlon recovery phase. These tips refer to triathlon however they can be adopted by anyone competing in individual swimming, cycling or running or team sports that require a large amount of commitment.

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Understanding Overtraining Syndrome In Athletes – 10 Signs You May Be Overtraining

Athletes put their bodies under a certain amount of stress in order to increase performance. This is not only limited to professional athletes, but also amateur level athletes and those simply looking to increase their fitness levels. If the stress loads are appropriate, then performance will improve BUT if the stress loads are inappropriate then a state of overtraining/under recovery can occur.

Overtraining can be a physical, behavioural, and/or emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s training exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. There are different levels of overtraining, so being aware of the signs of overtraining and the common causes and symptoms will help ensure your training does not head down this path.

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3 Tasty, Quick & Easy Natural Sources of Protein

Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth and although supplements such as Whey Protein powders are fantastic, they are highly processed and contain very little nutritional value (vitamins and minerals). In saying this I do still use these protein supplements for a number of reasons:

  • They are quick and easy and have a full protein count
  • They increase protein intake when it may otherwise be inadequate from food alone
  • They are readily absorbed by the muscles after a hard workout Read more

Starting a New Fitness Program

The end of 2013 has arrived and it’s coming to that time of year when many people start thinking about setting goals for 2014.

If you have a fitness goal in mind, here’s a few handy hints to help realise your goal.

Becoming fit and being active is something that should be seen as an enjoyable part of your life and not a chore. Whether your goal is to lose weight and be healthy, finish a race, achieve a new personal best or be a part of a team, getting started can actually be the hardest part. Once you get into a routine and start to enjoy the great feeling exercise provides, the hardest part may become trying to stop. To assist you in becoming fit and healthy, here are 5 tips for starting a new fitness program. 

1. Set yourself a goal
Setting goals whether you consider them big or small is very important when completing any form of training/exercise. This will keep you focused on your training and provide you with drive and motivation for self-achievement and satisfaction. When setting a fitness goal you want to consider questions such as:

  • What is my current fitness level?
  • What form of exercise do I enjoy?
  • Do I need others around me to get motivated or am I self-sufficient?
  • How many days/times a week can I train?
  • Is there an event I could partake in?

2. Have a plan and direction
The most important thing with any training is direction and structure. Here you should look to identify what days you are able to get active and how many training sessions a week is realistic for your lifestyle. It always helps to write this down so you can hold yourself accountable to your training at a later date. Choosing an event or planning a weekend away to get fit and healthy is always a fantastic and rewarding option and provides drive and motivation.

3. Acquire the right equipment
Gather your training equipment for your chosen sport such as shoes and clothes for the gym, bathers and goggles for swimming or a bike, helmet and clothing for cycling. You do not need to go and spend big money on the latest and greatest equipment however sometimes purchasing a new item will motivate you and provide some drive to get out there amongst it. If you choose a sport that requires expensive equipment such as surfing or cycling then try to borrow or acquire some cheaper second hand gear. You can always upgrade later if you become hooked on the sport and this can also be seen as a reward for your hard earned work.

4. Surround yourself with the right people
Training with a fitness group or with friends is advantageous as it keeps you motivated and your training mates will hold you accountable to sessions. Another great reason for group training is that you push each other to new fitness levels and you also learn from training mates and their experiences. This might also be in the form of team mates if playing a team sport or a coach/personal trainer if you require some additional assistance and feedback.

5. Start slowly and progressively build
When training and exercising you always want to have somewhere to go and aim for (e.g it’s no good trying to run 20km if the farthest you have previously run is 5km). This means that you need to start slowly and progressively build your training each week allowing your body to adapt. If you start out training too hard your body will not condition to the training and run the risk of injury and illness. This is a common mistake I see often and it leaves people injured on the sidelines and sends them back to square one.

Ryan Bourke (Triathlon Coach | Head Swim Coach of Tri Alliance)

If you want to discuss any aspect of swim training, other exercise, or health with one of our practitioners, please feel free to ask a questioncontact us or email us at info@melbourneosteopathycentre.com.au.

Good Fat Diets For Athletes

The importance of good fats in our diet – particularly for endurance training

Something that has historically gotten a bad rap in the media is a diet rich in fat. Although this is somewhat true, the important factor is actually the type of fats that are being consumed. Fats play an integral role in everyone’s nutrition, especially those whom are physically active. The vast majority of us probably understand the importance of protein for muscle recovery and carbohydrates for refuelling glycogen stores, but may have no idea where fat fits into the equation and why we are continuously led to believe they are harmful.

At low to moderate levels of exercise the primary source of fuel for the body is fats and this fuel source can last for extensive periods. In well trained athletes the body becomes more efficient at burning fat as a fuel source, hence why well trained athletes can train and race for longer at higher intensities without requiring additional (carbohydrate) fuel – they have greater endurance.

There are good fats and, of course, bad fats which we need to take into consideration when looking at our dietary intake. ‘Trans fats’ are the bad fats you want to avoid and they are found in frozen and highly processed foods (chips, donuts, burgers, pizza etc). Listed below are some good fat types that you should be aiming to eat and a brief explanation of why they are important for your endurance training.

4 reasons good fats will increase your athletic endurance and overall well-being

1. Increase time until fatigue

Due to the fact that even a lean athletic body has quite a large amount of fat stores (much greater than glycogen), endurance is increased when more fat is used for energy as opposed to glycogen. As you become fitter the body becomes more efficient and will thus will burn more fat as a fuel source and therefore increase the muscles’ endurance.

2. Maintain lean muscles mass

With large training hours come greater energy requirements. Being a very sustainable fuel and high nutritional source of calories, fats can provide for large energy requirements and protect muscles from being broken down.

3. Reduced injury

Fats help with reducing inflammation (omega 3) allowing muscle recovery to occur faster and helping to prevent minor injuries from suddenly become major problems. Providing the muscles and joints with the correct nutrition on top of adopting smart training principles will ensure you lower the risk of injury

4. Greater energy levels

Eating good fats will enable you to feel fuller for longer whilst providing more energy. As well as the reasons listed above this is also caused because:

  • Overloading on carbohydrate can leave you feeling heavy and lethargic
  • Consuming good fats in conjunction with protein will prevent blood sugar spikes and leave you feeling satisfied
  • Fats are rich in calories but also vitamins and minerals

My 4 favourite types of good fats to enhance performance

1. Coconut Oil

This stuff is amazing and there are many studies that have proven it will actually cause a decrease in your overall amount body fat. I am a firm believer that when I am aiming to lean up before a key race, yet maintain muscle mass, coconut oil is king. Look for a virgin coconut oil that has been cold-pressed.

2. Avocado

The perfect fruit with an incredibly long list of uses. When in hard training I aim to eat 1 avocado per day. They contain monounsaturated fats that are a sustainable source of fuel and will also reduce levels of bad cholesterol. Weight loss, skin and eye health and overall cardiovascular health are also promoted by eating this super-fruit.

3. Fish Oil 

Packed with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, fish oil supplements and/or fresh fish is fantastic for a broad range of health benefits. Wild caught salmon is a favourite of mine which is also rich in protein. Be wary of fish and supplements which may be high in mercury and other nasties. A higher price will generally get you a superior, cleaner and more pure product.

4. Nuts

Nuts would have to be my favourite snack throughout the day and are full of good fats, protein and fibre. On top of my list are walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts but generally a good quality bag of mixed nuts satisfies the taste buds. Activated nuts are a new craze whereby nutrients are released and are readily digestible through a soaking and drying process.

Author: Ryan BourkeCF Racing 

If you want to discuss any aspect of your training, nutrition or health with one of our practitioners, please feel free to ask a questioncontact us or email us at info@melbourneosteopathycentre.com.au.