Parker, J. (1989). Wiping your swimmers out. Swimming Technique, May-July, 10-16.

The process of the destruction of muscle (rhabdomyolysis) is commonly found in runners, particularly after completing a marathon. There is little evidence that rhabdomyolysis causes performance decrement. Creatine kinase (CK) is an enzyme found in muscle cells which catalyzes the formation of phosphocreatine from creatine and ATP. It is not normally found in the blood in large quantities unless muscle cells have been damaged. Increased CK activity is a marker for excessive strain.

In one day, an elite swimmer burns more calories than a runner in a marathon. Since many swimmers train at least 3-5 hours a day six days per week, a great strain is placed on their bodies. Muscle degeneration could result from consistent exercise at elevated intensities. Muscle problems can exist with degeneration and inflammation occurring while discomfort is tolerable (low pain). Overuse injury syndrome is frequently seen in "swimmer's shoulder" (a pathology of the rotator cuff) and "breaststroker's knee" (injury to the medial colateral ligament and/or medial patellar facet due to the highly unusual action in the breaststroke kick). Possible other causes are protein and iron deficiencies, the oxidative capacity of muscle cells, and glycogen stores. Psychological conditions result in "burn-out."

Implication. The threat of overtraining can be reduced without it affecting the performance of the athlete. Yardage can be reduced and the training stimulus changed to interval work of greater quality and less volume.

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