Inflexible Ankles and Swimming

I have very inflexible ankles and it's really stopping me getting better at swimming/ ruining my enjoyment.

I can swim up and down doing crawl, nothing fast . However, when attempting to use a float I've discovered I have an almost non-existent crawl kick! What propulsion I am getting seems to come entirely from my arms/shoulders/core. Using a float, I'm going so slowly, I'm barely going anywhere- sideways more often. It's that bad. My breaststroke kick is proportionally far better. 

If a top swimmer can lie with their legs out in front and their feet point flat over the ground creating a _ shape from leg though ankle to foot,  my feet do this /

Taking away the support of the ground, and my feet are almost vertical- !

I've found kneeling with my toes pointing backwards, rather than resting on them, has always been agony- even as a young child.  The only time it's not hurt was after I'd done months of pilates and yoga when it's part of the poses- but that's still using bodyweight to force my ankles to bend.

Don't know if it matters but I'm pretty flat footed.

Can anyone suggest any exercises I can do at home to improve that flexibility? 



  • Its true to an extent that the better plantar flexion you can have is a key to quicker swimming but it will not stop you from kicking.
    KK is right, it all needs to come from further up and will take lots of work with a kick board and lots of core work ... men are notoriously hopeless (not all, granted) with kicking as there is a greater muscle mass in the quads which weighs them down so you get the seahorse effect
    The best way to get an effective kick is to practic kicking

    Watch Mr Swimsmooth ...

  • Mr swimsmooth is your friend. but do try to work on flexibility so toes are pointing behind you not to bottom of pool.

  • if you're not doing it already, your toes should point inwards slightly to brush against each other.. this might help flex your ankles a little more

  • I have the same problem, try doing a yoga child's pose and just sitting on your feet with the tops flat on teh sofa to help stretch them out. Using fins can help too.

  • >> ✭✭✭


    breast stroke most of the power comes from the legs - front crawl most of the power comes from the arms - so this is probably why you move further doing breast stroke kick than crawl.

    at swimming sessions everyone has finns and we tend to do front crawl kick with finns. when you kick with finns one of the things they do it they give more flexible ankles which is how we get pointy feet.

    a strong strong word of warning - be careful you need to use them with moderation. finns and sitting on your feet to 'stretch' them may cause bad injury by straining the tops of your feet. i would never sit on my feet to stretch them, more practice kicking with finns should solve it no problem.

  • M...eldy described me perfectly. Like a seahorse and notoriously hopeless, according to the wife.

    I have been kicking with fins whenever we did kick practise at swim training (as I too didn't move when kicking without them). It is safe to say that I didn't make any progress with my kick at all. I then swallowed my pride and went to the lunch time general swim and just did lengths of kick without fins. I seem to have made much better progress and am now keeping up with the old ladies with dry hair doing breast stroke.

    As M...eldy says, the only way is to practise kicking!

  • Rule No 13.  Meldy is always right  image

    If you have potential achilles issues then steer clear of fins, in any case fins and paddles and what have you should be built up slowly

  • Ignore me, I know nothing! Meldy swims twice as fast as me so rule 13 stays in place.

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