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They're not only for your legs. Swim fins help condition your legs as much as they do your arms. Think about it. You swim faster with swim fins, so your arms need to move faster to keep up.
Your arms don't have to pull as hard to move your weight through the water, your legs are doing that with the help of the fins. Your arms need to slice through the water, learning better technique.
Ever had that tight, ball-like cramping in a muscle known as a Charlie Horse? The more you use swim fins, the more likely you are to get an occasional Charlie Horse. Want to avoid it? Stretch your calves a lot.
Stretch calves before and after you swim. Stretch them while standing in line at a store. Stretch them all the time! Also try eating bananas. Bananas have potassium in them and potassium helps keep your muscles from cramping.
With or without? Practice breaststroke kicks without swim fins, yet both with and without a kick board. Practice the flutter kick and dolphin kick both with and without swim fins, and with and without a kick board. Practice each of these kicks on your stomach and on your back.
Practice kicking on your back with your arms in a streamline position, no kick board. For beginning swimmers learning the backstroke, try holding a kick board across your stomach as you lie on your back and practice flutter kick.
Why kick on your back when you swim on your front? Swimmers can often get into bad habits. Some of those habits can be fixed by practicing the correct body movements in a different way. For instance, breaststrokers may get in the habit of dropping their knees toward the bottom of the pool when trying to swim faster. To help your muscles remember not to do that, practice breaststroke kicks on your back where you cannot drop your knees. Then, flip over and see how it feels.
Flutter kicking on your back in a streamline position helps keep your body in an elongated position, the best position to be in while swimming, and a position that swimmers may forget to emphasize when tired. You have to stay long while on your back in order to float.
There are three pieces of equipment that are a must for swimmers in training, and swimmers who are learning. The first is swim fins. The second is a pull-buoy, and the third is a kick board.
Most pools have both pull-buoys and kick boards for you to use, however, you may not like the type of pull-buoy they have available, so this is something you may like to purchase on your own. They are not expensive and will fit in your bag. Buy the adjustable kind so you can make them fit your body.
I hold those things how?! In between your thighs, just above your knees. Pull-buoys. They adjust to fit between your legs, one buoy in front, the straps in the middle, and one buoy in the back.
Use pull-buoys to help your legs float while you don't kick and pull yourself through the water. It's a strength workout for your arms. It's worth it, try it. Your stroke will get better, more efficient, and stronger. It's like using swim fins, only opposite.
Short or long swimming fins? The answer is both. You don't need to buy both, but you should try both, and you can purchase and use either one.
You will move your legs faster when flutter kicking with short fins, but long fins will give you a greater push when dolphin kicking, making it easier to work on your butterfly arms. Regardless of which type suits you best, fins are a must.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|