The effect of ankle muscle strength and flexibility on dolphin kick performance in competitive swimmers
Deurwaerder, De, Lien E.P.
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Human movement science. - Amsterdam
, p. 167-176
The velocity of a swimmer is determined by biomechanical and bioenergetics factors. However, little is known about the effect of ankle flexibility on dolphin kick performance. Next to this, scientific evidence is lacking concerning the influence of ankle muscle strength. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of ankle flexibility and muscle strength on dolphin kick performance in competitive swimmers. Ankle range of motion (ROM) and ankle muscle strength were measured in 26 healthy competitive swimmers. The effect of both was assessed on the swimmers velocity and lower extremity joint angles during three maximal dolphin kick trials. Additionally, the effect of a flexibility restriction by a tape on the dolphin kick performance was assessed. Correlations were calculated between the flexibility, muscle strength and dolphin kick performance and differences were investigated between the unrestricted and restricted condition. Muscle strength of dorsal flexors and internal rotators were positively significantly correlated with the velocity. Active and passive plantar flexion ROM and internal rotation ROM were not significantly correlated. A plantar flexioninternal rotation restriction during the dolphin kick showed a significant decrease in velocity. This restriction was associated with a changed movement pattern in the knee towards more flexion. The results suggest that dolphin kick velocity might be enhanced by ankle muscle strength exercises and that subjects with a restricted ankle flexibility might profit from a flexibility program.