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Freestyle Swimming: Straight Hands VS High Elbows

The Debate Continues: Straight Hands VS High Elbows in Freestyle Swimming

One of the debates is whether to use straight hands or bent elbow in freestyle swimming.

Image of a swimmer in a pool with bent elbows
Bent Elbows
Image of a swimmer in a pool with straight hands. More fuel for the debate of straight hands vs bent elbows
Straight Hands

Straight hands give you a larger lever and greater range of motion, therefore propelling you farther and faster. It's also considered the best method to start with for children. The downsides of the technique are that it's harder to coordinate and places more pressure on the deltoids.

Bent/high elbow technique spreads out the work across more muscles, which is why it is favoured for longer distances. On the other hand, those suffering shoulder pain may not be able to execute high elbow. When deciding which technique is best for you, be sure to consult your swimming coach.

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Key Takeaways:

  • On the plus side, those that opt to swim,with straight arms are obviously manipulating a far straighter lever, allowing the pulling appendage to move along more quickly.
  • On the downside, the straight arm style puts a lot of tendon on the deltoid muscle, which can cause too much tension and discomfort for some.
  • However, the straight arm technique also ensures that the deltoid region gets stronger faster.

"Yes age and flexibility do matter, pain matters and distance, the big question is what's the best for you?"

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