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I have already discussed proper body position while swimming freestyle and the drag forces that act upon your body on numerous occasions on this blog.
However, the reality of it is that it is very easy to say, "swim relaxed with good body position", but a bit more difficult to actually perform such feat.
It is no surprise that one of the most frequently asked questions I get on the Swimator blog has to deal with the frustration of your legs sinking.
Your feet sink even if you put your head in the water.
So, to help you with keeping your body nice and straight in a horizontal position, I have a wonderful treat for you today.
What if I told you that there is a piece of swimming equipment out there which helps to align your body by helping your legs float up to the surface and all that with a minimal effort and time commitment from you.
Are you excited yet?
Meet the "shinfin™ leg fins".
Shinfin™ leg fins are a unique type of swim gear, which slightly resembles normal swimming fins, however, before I go into more details, DO NOT mistake shinfin™ fins for actual fins.
Please, keep an open mind and forget about regular fins and the propulsion they give you.
Think of it more in terms of a shark, a dolphin, or a tuna fish perspective.
They all have many fins, but only the rear (caudal) fin gives them pure propulsion, all the other fins (e.g. dorsal, pectoral) are mainly for vertical maneuvering or directional changes.
shinfin™ fins are in this case a combination of vertical maneuvering fins like the pectoral fins on a shark and a streamlined propulsion style like the caudal fin of a dolphin.
Another analogy could be one of a dolphin flipper. Dolphin has also flippers in addition to fins and rear flukes.
The difference is that flippers contain some residues of bone structures in them and fins do not.
With shinfin™ fins, it is remarkably similar as they are attached to your legs and not feet, so the lower part of your leg is actually integrated as a part of the shinfin™ product, like a flipper.
So, now that we have established our open-mindedness, let’s begin.
As I already mentioned, the unique visible difference between regular swimming fins and shinfin™ fins is that shinfin™ fins attach to your shinbone and extend on the top of the front of your foot.
This leaves your foot free for walking, pushing off the walls or diving into the pool.
This leg attachment also alleviates any ankle or cramping problem swimmers often experience from wearing regular fins on their feet.
The structural design of the shinfin™ leg fins is also quite unique.
The rounder shape of the fin in combination with the attachment to the leg works as a lift force on your lower limbs while making it harder to bend your knees.
This is perfect for swimming, because wearing the fins on your shins will cause your legs to rise automatically (even without kicking) and it will make it a bit more difficult to bend your knees (working your quad muscles a bit harder).
If you recollect from my previous body drag article, such a position and narrow kick reduces swimmer’s drag in the water and allows the swimmer to focus on improving other important aspects of the stroke.
In other words, with fins on your shins rather than your feet you will swim in a nice streamlined position with minimal effort and high efficiency.
Fighting the water to stay afloat will no longer be your problem.
The fins are made from a very pleasant high-quality polyurethane material.
Softer at the toe side of the fin to allow the fin to move through the water easier while not putting too much pressure on your toes.
Tougher on the leg side to keep it nicely snug to the leg.
The fins come with two heavy-duty rubber straps that are used to attach the fins to your legs.
The putting on and taking off the fins takes a bit to get used to, however, when you figure out the right motions for the job, you can get them on and off without any hassle.
The manufacturer also supplies incredibly detailed instructions on how to do that inside the package with the fins. This makes the task easier when you try it for the first time.
Once shinfin™ leg fins are adjusted properly on your shins they feel quite pleasant and comfortable on the legs without any major discomforts.
The fins are almost made in the one size fits all equivalent. They come in one size which should fit for swimmers between 140 - 200cm (4'7" - 6'6") tall.
To top it off, you have a choice of three colors: blue, white and black, so getting them to match your swimsuit is not a problem :).
There are many uses one can think of for the fins on your shins.
Below are just some main examples where shinfin™ leg fins will be beneficial to improve your swimming stroke, your overall fitness or experience:
Improving body position by raising legs to the surface during freestyle swimming
Strengthening the upkick part of the kicking cycle by introducing extra resistance on the upkick
Learning the proper butterfly rhythm is easier since shinfin™ fins will lessen the knee bend and bring feet closer to the surface of the water. This way you don’t have to spend so much effort getting yourself out of the water to breathe and instead focus on good undulation
Streamlining your kick - one of the most common mistakes during freestyle is the exaggerated span of the kicks. Most beginner swimmers kick too far down which causes extra drag. With the shinfin™ fins you are guided to kick in a smaller space, like if your feet were trapped in a bucket.
Improving body balance during breathing - another common mistake is spreading your legs during a breath in freestyle. With shinfin™ fins you get extra support for your body during your breathing, so taking a breath is a breeze.
Strengthening the legs and core body area during water aerobics exercises and water running
Working stomach muscles during flip turns - doing flipturns with these fins is not really straight forward as the fins will get stuck halfway through the turn when your feet stick out of the water. You will have to use your abs to get them to finish the rotation
Eliminating calf cramps and walking clumsiness during longer snorkel trips. You can also wear more comfortable shoes with the shinfin™ fins and as a bonus you might just save some coral by not kicking into it with longer diving fins.
Fins For Your Legs, Freedom For Your Feet.
All in all, the shinfin™ leg fins do the job of bringing the swimmer in a more horizontal streamlined position very nicely.
Having your legs sink and overtly bending your knees after you put on the shinfin™ leg fins is almost impossible.
So, whether you are a beginner who is learning to swim or an advanced swimmer, shinfin™ fins will help you improve. (be it as an aid to your body alignment or as a tool to strengthen your legs and core body)
Furthermore, the universal usage and the one size fits all solution is an awesome addition to your family’s arsenal of swimming toys.
Beware, however, if you start off expecting shinfin™ leg fins to have the same propulsion style as regular fins you could end up disappointed.
The fins for your shins serve a quite different purpose than then regular fins, so in my opinion they are mutually exclusive and not alternatives.
Make the straps wet before you attempt to adjust the straps. Try to put the fins on in the water as the extra water helps them slip through the slits.
Do not be afraid of bending and pushing on the polyurethane material when adjusting your straps. The material of the fin and the strap is very durable, so don’t worry about using more power to get the desired snug fit.