By SwimSwam Partner Content
June 18th, 2018
Swimming gear news courtesy of SwimmersBest, a SwimSwam partner
Any cursory search of photos and videos of swimmers using stretch cords or benches will quickly reveal an array of ‘what not to do.’ Swimmers don’t get to take any ‘easy’ paths when it comes to building upper body power – the easy path for any resisted cord pull will inevitably result in ‘dropped elbows.’ When you lead with your elbow you can quite simply engage more muscle, exactly like using a chin up bar. However, stretch cords and resistive bench exercises, when done properly, are intended to engage the same Early Vertical Forearm (EVF) muscle groups as required in all swim stroke.
The StrokeRight device is a new cord attachment from SwimmersBest to ensure swimmers using cords and benches maintain a ‘high elbow’ form all the time. This ensures you are working on swim-specific muscle groups to ensure the time invested in dryland cord work is 100% efficient, and not counter-productive. The StrokeRight incorporates 3 components: a) a cuff that attaches above the elbow, b) a multi-position paddle under the hand, and c) a strap system that connects the paddle, cuff, and cord into a triangulated formation from any stretch cord or swim bench. The paddle should be kept slack when the cord is relaxed. This ensures the initial pressure from the cord is applied to the elbow and causes the swimmers to initially press down from the fingers while maintaining a high elbow throughout the movement. The process can be repeated in rapid succession to constantly help provide the kinesthetic feedback of ‘high elbow’ to the swimmer. When the swimmer tries to take the ‘easy path’ and drops the elbow, the paddle starts to slide off of the hand and forces the swimmer to keep their elbow up.
However, the StrokeRight provides even more benefits for swimmers. The paddle can be used in 3 positions: a) the paddle under the palm, b) the paddle under the fingertips, and c) the paddle under just the ring and pinky fingers. Under the palm the paddle will act normally to engage stroke muscles. When the paddle is positioned under the fingertips, it provides the ability to engage better technique and hand/wrist muscles unlike any comparable option.
But perhaps the most effective reason to use the StrokeRight is for the engagement of the Lat and Teres Minor muscle groups. Recently referred to as the ‘outside muscles,’ these are the muscles connected to your ring and pinky finger and can play an important role in your power at the end of your race. Several in-water paddles are available that attempt to target these muscles groups, and drills like squeezing a ping pong ball in your fingers and only exposing the ring/pinky to the water through the stroke attempt to do so as well. However, in-water options are secondary to dryland options for powering these ‘outside’ muscle groups. As any swimmer can attest, water has immense resistance on all parts of the body. So any part of the hand that is still exposed to the water will minimize the amount of resistance being applied to the ring/pinky fingers. Unless you chop off your thumb/pointer/middle fingers, they will catch water and thus minimize your ability to use water to create adequate resistance to the outer fingers. This is not the case when engaging these fingers in dryland however. The air does not provide substantial resistance to the larger fingers, allowing the StrokeRight to engage the ring/pinky fingers 100% on every pull. Combine that fact with the ‘high elbow’ element of the StrokeRight and you have an ideal way to maximize your time using cords for dryland power development.