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I wonder how fins work out with the pigeon toe effect in dolphin kicking. Would they collide and impede training for ankle flexibility?
Fins add more torque on the ankle and actually will help increase flexibility. They also add more propulsion from the increase in surface area. Swimmers that lack ankle flexibility do relatively better with fins than those with good ankle flexibility because the fins provide the flexibility that is not available without them. One can get a false sense of ability by overusing fins. In the end, we must kick fast without them. For masters swimmers, fins help tremendously with butterfly stroke technique, since the stroke is very kick dependent.
That was a very instructive video. The comparative velocity meter analysis leaves no question about the validity of the advice. Clearly, ankle flexibility is key. In the past, the “sitting on your ankles” technique of passive stretching has been advocated. Although this can be an effective method, it’s use can be difficult or impossible for athletes with knee issues. I would love to see a video from the Race Club that outlines a comprehensive program to enhance ankle flexibility/mobility.
There are two ways you can accomplish the ankle stretch without putting too much pressure on the knee. The first way is by putting a couple of kickboards between your heels and your bum while in the freestyle squat position on the ground. If that doesn’t work, try lying on your back, putting the feet underneath a low couch (few inches off the ground). Then straighten the legs until you feel the pressure on your anterior ankles. Hold that position and gradually try to work it so you can straighten your leg all of the way.