Should You Learn Bilateral Breathing? #SwimTechTues

Should You Learn Bilateral Breathing? #SwimTechTues

Have you been told or read that you should learn bilateral breathing? Do you know what bilateral breathing is?!

What Is Bilateral Breathing?

Bilateral breathing is breathing to both sides. It normally equates to breathing on an odd number of strokes – 3, 5, 7 etc. It CAN be really useful in keeping your stroke even and help you maintain a straight line as you swim. Additionally the swimmers who tend to get shoulder/neck injuries and problems tend to be the swimmers who only breath to one side – a feature of poorer posture and reliance on one side doing the majority of the work.

[Tweet “Breathing to one side CAN potentially increase the risk of overuse injury”]

However I’d argue that breathing bilaterally is not a necessity and could potentially hold athletes back in the water. Especially with (but not confined to) new swimmers, there are so many things to try and focus on that breath control becomes really difficult, and trying to hold on to breathing every third stroke results in very quick fatigue.

In most sports, we don’t have to work very hard to get oxygen. But in swimming, specifically in freestyle , we have to turn our head to get air.

Maintaining good posture and a straight spine will keep your stroke as smooth as possible while breathing.

Cycling or running at maximal exertion requires between 50 and 60 breaths per minute. If you are swimming anywhere from 400 metres to 2.4 miles, chances are your stroke rate is 50 to 60 strokes per minute. If you are an alternate breather, breathing every third stroke (1:3 ratio), your respiratory rate is only 20 breaths per minute. A swimmer taking 60 strokes per minute and breathing to one side on every stroke cycle (1:2 ratio) takes only 30 breaths per minute, far below the body’s chosen rate.

So it’s not surprising that maintaining bilateral breathing can potentially be a challenge!

[Tweet “Breathing bilaterally severely reduces your body’s chance to get oxygen.”]

When coaching I prefer to focus on making sure that the swimmer in front of me has a balanced stroke – that both the left side and right side are doing the same thing, that the core and spine are staying straight and not bending round to one side or another. From there you can ensure that general breathing technique is good. The next step is to make sure that when breathing, you don’t let your hand cross under your body. My favourite drill is to swim with out breathing, and slowly reduce the number of strokes between breaths. Try to maintain the smoothness as you add in more breaths per length!

Obviously it is a great asset to be able to breath to both sides; specially in open water where waves, wind or bright sunshine could make breathing one way more difficult.

[Tweet “Breathing bilaterally is a useful skill but not a necessity.”]

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!


Heel Strike V Forefoot Strike #RunFormFriday

Foot Strike - Heels


One of the most common questions I am asked by runners of all standards is “What part of the foot should I land on?”. This is also the topics of many running articles, theories, advertising campaigns and debates.

My short answer, which surprises 99% of people is..

“It doesn’t matter”

Which part of the foot touches the ground first is not a reflection of good technique. It is entirely possible – and unfortunately quite common, for people to land on the ‘right’ part of the foot and still have poor technique or be creating injury inducing stresses or loads. The most common of these are people that focus on landing on the toes or front forefoot. It is quite easy to land on this part of the foot with zero knee lift and be essentially jamming the foot into the ground. Watch the last couple of km of Dennis Kimetto’s WR marathon, and at least some of the time you would say he’s almost heel striking.

Yet the runner thinks they are running correctly ’cause they are landing on their toes’. Blisters around the ball of the foot or bruised toes are normally a give away as the foot ‘brakes’ into the ground moving in the shoes against the direction of travel – and constantly applying brakes in a run is never a good thing for your body or run time.

The long answer to the question “Which part of the foot I should land on?” is that if the rest of the mechanics of the run are correct then your foot really has no choice about where it lands. Good knee lift (note the word ‘lift’ – not push), good extension through through the hips, square chest with lack of shoulder twisting etc means that the foot will typically land around the mid foot. Try running like this (focussing on knee, hips etc) and try to land on your heels – it is virtually impossible.


I encourage running on the spot to focus on the correct technique and striking directly under the hips.

So, rather than focus on the foot strike spend your time analysing the main area of your run technique – knee, chest and hip position and your foot strike will quite literally fall into place.

By the way – for the triathletes. What I have found is that when technique is correct, the part of the foot that hits the ground is exactly the same as the position of the pedal axle when a bike fit is correctly performed.

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!

Returning from Running Injury #RunFormFriday

Moving from injured to training, to competing needs a plan

Moving from injured to training, to competing needs a plan

Some of our athletes have asked us to put together an example 12 week running program for those who are coming back from injury.

This simple-to-follow program guides you through 3 months of gradual progression of running volume to safely build up running time as the previously injured tissues get stronger again. This could look at things like achilles tendinitis/tendonopathy, reducing shin splints, or even from muscle tears.

Use the program below to provide structure for an important 3 month transition phase as your body adapts to a new running style.

This is particularly important to help runners avoid the common and painful ‘too much, too soon’ trap – when changing from a heel striking to midfoot or forefoot striking gait pattern, or coming back from chronic injury


All running to be completed at a easy pace.

No speed work until you complete this ‘return to running’ phase!

Don’t run on consecutive days – give your body time to recover.

Week 1: 3 sessions of: (Run 1min : Walk 1min) x 10

Recovery can be a frustrating time, all you want to do is go and train

Recovery can be a frustrating time, all you want to do is go and train

Week 2: 3 sessions of: (Run 1min 30sec : Walk 30sec) x 8

Week 3: 3 sessions of: (Run 2min : Walk 30sec) x 8

Week 4: 3 sessions of: (Run 3min : Walk 1min) x 8

Week 5: 3 sessions of: (Run 4min : Walk 1min) x 8

Week 6: 3 sessions of: (Run 5min : Walk 1min) x 6

Week 7: 3 sessions of: (Run 10min : Walk 1min) x 3

Week 8: 3 sessions of: (Run 15min : Walk 1min) x 2

Week 9: 3 sessions of: Run 20min non-stop

Week 10: 3 sessions of: Run 25min non-stop

Week 11: 3 sessions of: Run 30min non-stop

Week 12: 3 sessions of: Run 35min non-stop

This isn’t a specific cure all, thats impossible – but it gives a basic idea of building back from major injury/illness. Obviously within this you may well have your own strengthening/rehab/retraining exercises to carry out as well, this is a perfect time to do that and work on making sure that your running form and training is as strong and bulletproof as possible.

Get running smooth, strong and easy post injury

Get running smooth, strong and easy post injury

See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!



It’s important to make sure you focus on technique throughout and develop the ability to maintain good form consistently as the run durations increase.

Also, be sure to supplement this running work with appropriate strengthening exercises.

During each run, stop at the first sign of any discomfort.

This program is intended as reference guides, and may not be appropriate for everyone. Tri Coaching accepts no responsibility for any injury of loss which may occur through the following of such programs.

Why Should I Get A Sports Massage – The Benefits Of Massage

When it comes to receiving a massage, most individuals wouldn’t have

The benefits of sports massage are wide ranging

The benefits of sports massage are wide ranging

to think twice or even take much persuasion. However, most would not consider paying a qualified sports therapist to give them a sports massage. This is not your typical end of the day massage you would give your partner or spouse in order to relax them; sports massages are designed to release muscle tension and restore balance to the musculo-skeletal system – and can be (but really don’t have to be) quite painful or uncomfortable. However, the benefits can be immense, and include physical, physiological and psychological improvements.

Before considering the potential benefits sport massage has to offer, it is important to recognise that massage itself is not only for injured individuals but can also offer numerous benefits to uninjured individuals who are looking to enhance their sporting performance. Before reducing the benefits of massage down into the three categories highlighted above, let us first consider some general enhancements massage can offer;

Increase sporting performance.

Maintain the human body in a healthy condition.

Prevent injuries and inflexibility.

Reduce the recovery period following an injury.


Physical Benefits

Enhanced tissue permeability: Massage causes the tissue membrane pores to widen, allowing fluids and nutrients to pass through more readily. This enables waste products such as lactic acid to be removed rapidly and creates an environment whereby oxygen and nutrients are quickly delivered to the target muscles, allowing an enhanced recovery.

Increased flexibility: Massage stretches muscle tissue in a multidirectional manner, both longitudinally and laterally. It can also have a similar effect on the muscular sheath and surrounding fascia, allowing a beneficial release of stored tension and pressure. Scar tissue realignment: Each and every time a muscle receives trauma or injury, scar tissue is formed which can affect the muscle itself as well as the tendons and ligaments. If not treated correctly at the time of injury, this scar tissue can form haphazardly, resulting in the potential for long term inflexibility issues. Massage assists in realigning the scar tissue formation and reduces the likelihood of subsequent injury and/or pain.

Enhanced micro circulation: Massage enhances the blood flow to the tissues of the target muscles in a similar manner to exercise. In addition to this, massage also causes blood vessels to dilate enabling oxygen and nutrients to pass through more readily. Physiological Benefits:

Inhibition of pain: A combination of tension and waste products within a muscle can often result in the sensation of pain. Massage lessons this painful feeling by its ability to reduce tension and remove waste products. It also encourages the release of endorphins. Stimulates relaxation response: Massage creates an environment whereby heat generation, enhanced circulation and increased flexibility are all promoted. All of these factors play a role in stimulating mechanoreceptors in the body and creating relaxation.

Psychological Benefits:

Reduced anxiety levels: Through stimulating a relaxation response, massage has the additional benefit of lowering anxiety levels, creating a mood enlightening experience.

Invigorating bodily response: If the sports massage is completed utilising brisk movements prior to a sporting event then it can create an invigorating bodily response.

Massage takes various forms and feels for different effects

Massage takes various forms and feels for different effects

Am I going to feel less sore afterwards?

There’s the rub indeed.

And yes, you are. Expert opinion holds that muscle soreness isn’t caused by lactic buildup, but by microscopic damage to muscle fibres. But massage still has the power to soothe by promoting healing through breaking down fibrous tissue and adhesions.

An Ohio State University review of 27 studies backs this, finding evidence that massage therapy can alleviate symptoms of the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

You may find massage best a couple of days after a hard workout or race to allow initial soreness and stiffness to subside. By that point you should just about be able to hobble to the appointment, too.

How do I know which is the best kind of massage for me?

Different strokes for different folks. There may be more than one type of therapy that could effectively meet your needs.

Look for a therapist who has a range of techniques at their disposal, and who can match the treatment to your particular needs at each session – which can vary every time.

No single technique can accomplish all the aims of sports massage. Specific or unusual problems and extreme circumstances may mean you need to look beyond general sports massage.

So how’s it going to feel?

Be warned: it’s not all a soft touch.

Techniques vary from the gentle ‘effleurage’, which is a long, relaxing gliding movement towards your heart to aid venous return, to ‘petrissage’, a somewhat less relaxing kneading of muscles to boost circulation and mobilise tissue.

Then there are compression techniques to promote relaxation in tight muscles or reduce sensitivity of painful ‘trigger points’, and friction techniques to work on scar tissue or adhered tissue that doesn’t move freely because of overuse or injury.

Scar tissue will be treated with more vigorous techniques, and adhered tissue with more gentle effleurage. As a rule of fingers and thumbs, don’t count on drifting off for a nap if your problems run deeper than a tough training session.


Hopefully this article has provided you with numerous benefits of sports massage, including those that are considered physical, physiological and psychological in nature. I am sure you will agree that all of the benefits listed above would offer the potential to enhance your sporting performance and enjoyment if carried out on a regular basis. So if you ever needed one good reason to book in for a sports massage, now you have many!

Our partners at the Sports Performance Clinic and at Energised Performance offer a variety of different services and options – both assisting with injury rehab, ongoing/in training massage and pre/post race offerings. Get in touch with them to see how they can help!