I often get asked why do I use swim paddles in training: isn’t that cheating? Unless I use them in a race, no it is not cheating! Too many, and I am generalizing, triathletes think these swim tools are used to find an easy way of false speed. Believe me when I say these are what have helped to make my stroke stronger, more efficient, and ultimately faster
A year ago I broke my shoulder in a bike crash, I was out of action for nearly 4 months with my arm in a sling and even when I did start training again, my shoulder wasn’t the same. I had lost a lot of my strength if not all, so for me the swim was to be the most challenging out of the three disciplines to get back to.
I decided to re –learn my stroke, which previously had been ok but nothing special. I wanted to focus on my technique by slowing my stroke down, trying to get stronger in my core and upper body and really try to re-gain mobility in my shoulders. One thing that helped me to re-gain some of my strength were hand paddles, a very misunderstood piece of equipment.
Hand paddles specifically the Finis Agility Paddles are one of the more popular paddles on the swimming market. These help the swimmer to become more efficient, improving overall strength and technique while constantly creating a better feel for the water. I wasn’t particularly fussed with speed I just wanted a better stroke and these paddles seem to address everything I was looking for. However, if used incorrectly with bad technique, they can cause shoulder soreness and ultimately shoulder injuries. So it was simple to me, when it hurt I would take them off and I would build up the time I used them slowly. Not rocket science!
I certainly didn’t need any more shoulder problems then I already had, but by using these paddles I knew I would not only get stronger, I would also see where there were technical deficiencies in my stroke and change things! These paddles fit on your hand by a thumbhole that secures the paddles onto your hands. If your catch and pull aren’t correct (which is the first part of the stroke) the paddles will flip off and you will loose them.
I was swimming 2-4 times a week but only ever used the paddles once a week. I started to see my fitness and strength return, as well as I noticed I began to have a better feel for the water. My Finis paddles definitely helped to make a difference in my stroke, by incorporating my entire arm through a better stroke motion, keeping my elbows high and helping my hand enter correctly; fingers first. By doing this I was able to maximize my catching of the water more efficiently and holding onto it for a full cycle. It was genius!
I was starting to learn the correct technique and once I mastered this the speed gradually started to come back. But this time I was even faster then I had been. By changing a few things in my stroke, thanks to my paddles, I noticed how much easier it was going faster even when I didn’t have my paddles on. The paddles basically reinforced the proper stroke and I could finally see what I had not been doing correctly before.
Swim paddles, in my opinion, are a beneficial training aid that when used correctly will help anyone’s stroke and strength get better. They help show the swimmer; bad technique, inefficiencies in their stroke and how weak and inflexible shoulders are. They will help your muscle memory to remember correct technique at the same time they will help to strengthen your upper body. So it really is a no brainer folks, invest in a pair of paddles and use them regularly in your training and then watch yourself improve... legally!
Blueseventy Core shorts next….
This blog is a place for me to share what I do with you. It is about my love for racing, family and fashion. It is also about being an older athlete and how I manage to keep my training balanced and, most of the time, injury free. I hope to inspire other ladies, regardless of age, to get up and get healthy...just try it!