Kick the Kickboard Habit 3

Do you suffer from shoulder, lower back, or neck pain?  Perhaps it’s time to start kicking without a kickboard.  Kicking with a board is used to improve leg kicking endurance.  Unfortunately, it also places you out of the essential streamline position for performance.  There are several benefits to training without a kickboard.

First, it will improve your performance.  Second, it will reduce swimming related injuries.  Some of the benefits of kicking without a kickboard include: faster streamlines, correct body alignment, reduced shoulder injuries, reduced risk of lower back injuries, and reduced neck injuries.

Swimming overstresses the shoulder, resulting in 80% of swimmers experiencing pain and injury in their career.  The buoyancy of the kickboard puts stress on the shoulder joint.  Eventually the overuse can stress, damage or injure the rotator cuff muscles.

The lower back is the second most injured body part in swimming.  With the buoyancy of the kickboard causing vertical stress on the arms, most swimmers’ backs are often extended while they are holding a kickboard.  Having the kickboard closer to the body worsens the stress.  When swimmers are using a kickboard, they’re in poor body alignment

Holding a kickboard with the head looking forward also places stress on the back of the neck.  This position can create tight muscles leading to issues ranging from neck strain to headaches.  Although the neck is not the primary injury site among swimmers, neck strains do occur.

The correct way to kick without a kickboard while on the stomach, is to position your hands shoulder width apart in an “11” position.  Using a swimming snorkel allows the swimmer to kick in a streamline, with correct body alignment.  You can also kick on your back maintaining the same body alignment without a snorkel.

The benefits of kicking without a kickboard are endless.  If you want to improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury, start with short, sprint kick sets and work your way up to longer distances.  In the end, you will find that you have a much stronger kick and your swimming performances will improve.

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3 thoughts on “Kick the Kickboard Habit

  • Simon

    This is total conjecture, “First, it will improve your performance”. Oh there you go then. I completely disagree, core engagement and shoulder activation will prevent problems in both lower back and shoulders. It’s like saying doing and hurts my lower back, that’s because you’re doing it incorrectly, so you fix you technique, you don’t just lie on the ground flat instead. In my experience people who kick without a board end up with their legs too straight when they kick. No problem using a buoy to pull? That lifts your legs and creates lower back strain? Let’s take buoys out too, why not. Granted, I can see doing this to be beneficial if you have neck problems.