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Light
October 14th, 2003, 10:16 PM
Hi guys...I've read that the ankle flexibility (plantar flexion? pardon the spelling) is very important in flutter kick, as they can mean the difference with a kick with or without propulsive force... My question is, to get my feet to an angle that has some propulsive force I have to "force it slightly", as in it's obviously not my natural feet position. Therefore, do I intentionally "point my toes" when i am doing the down kick of the flutter kick? Or should I just relax the ankle during the entire kicking phase?

Thanks for any response!

Gareth Eckley
October 15th, 2003, 04:47 AM
If you intentionally 'point the toes' throughout a workout ' like a ballerina' then you will likely end up with calf cramps.

You are right to keep the feet basically relaxed. One tip that increases the "effective" angle of your fore-foot against the water is to "pigeon toe". This is where you kick with the focus of your big toes almost brushing against each other. This will "add" a few degrees of plantar-flexion to your feet.

On top of that, in the water you can wear fins. These will help to stretch your ankles. Out of the pool, you can stretch your ankles by a number of ways.

Kneel on your feet and gently rock back to feel a stretch. Put feet under a couch and gently straighten your leg. Hold the stretch for up to 90 seconds for each foot. Two or three times each leg every other day. This works better if you warm up the muscles, after a bath or by soaking in hot water first.

bearcat
October 15th, 2003, 03:24 PM
Speaking of calf cramps, I get really painful "charley-horse" cramping in my calves whenever I attempt to use fins in drills. I never experience this problem swimming without fins. My solution to this problem thus far has been to stop using fins....

Should I try and "work through" the cramping--in other words does the calf cramping indicate the fins are doing me harm or good (so far as ankle flexibility is concerned)?

I use a pair of long-bladed fins, not the short Zoomer-type, if that makes a difference.

laineybug
October 15th, 2003, 03:49 PM
my granddaughter started swimming when she was just over 4 years old. After one of her very first 'practices' I asked her what she had learned that day. She said, "Stiff knees, floppy feet!" If you 'relax' your ankles when flutter kicking your feet will turn in slightly and give you that pidgeon toe effect... at least mine do.

I use to get cramps from fins too, then I realized it was because I was pointing my toes... in other words, my feet weren't floppy.

Light
October 15th, 2003, 05:45 PM
thanks for the replies! Yes, toe pointing does give me cramps, and I figured it's my body trying to say something (stop it, NOW!)... But, gotta hear it from others to be 100% sure, since sometimes bodies send out signals that can be rectified by making it get used to it... It's funny how one of you mentioned what your granddaughter learned in her classes... wished I learned that (and lots of other swimming stuff) when I was a kid! :P

hoganpsu
October 23rd, 2003, 10:51 PM
if you can relax your ankles that will help a lot. Fins are one of the best things to help your ankle flexibility. I would occasionally get the foot or calf cramp, but it was more due to the fact that I didnít drink any water. Make sure you are real hydrated.

Matt S
October 24th, 2003, 02:20 PM
Light,

Kicking with fins is just about the best way to loosen up your ankles and work on swimming. Don't be shy; they aren't cheating.

You also might be interested in this series of articles: http://www.h2oustonswims.org/articles/bottom_up_swimming_revised.html

Matt

Light
October 25th, 2003, 03:14 AM
thanks for the help guys! yes, after seeing some good kickers (:P) in the pool, and watching some video clips of world class swimmers, I am beginning to see the definition of "flexible" but relaxed ankles!

I've notice something interesting...we're taught to keep our knees pretty much straight and fixed, but I've notice slight knee bends from some of the "decent" swimmers in my pool...is it my imagination or are they doing something "wrong"?


again, thanks for all the replies!

Janis
October 25th, 2003, 05:34 PM
The knee bends slightly on the upkick but stays relatively straight on the down kick--all the way to the point of the leg moving forward.

One of the problems with those who tend to go backwards when they kick is that they bend the knee before the legs is as far back as it is going to go making a "pawing" motion. With the knee bent at that point it is harder to generate the kick from the hip.

The kick is like a mini undulation of each leg in a way. Starting at the hip and traveling down the leg causing a "flick" at the ankles/feet at the end. This takes relaxed legs.

As far as the pigeon toed look--if you look at your feet there is a broad flatter area between the second toe and the fifth toe. When the foot is angled in, that part of the foot presses against the water. If you keep the foot straight the top of the arch is the prominant part grabbing at the water and it's surface isn't as large and tends slip rather than grab.