2022-08-10Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/fspor.2022.948034
Ankle joint flexibility affects undulatory underwater swimming speed
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
The movement of undulatory underwater swimming (UUS), a swimming technique adapted from whales, is mainly limited by human anatomy. A greater ankle joint flexibility could improve the imitation of the whale's flap of the fin and therefore enhance USS performance. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of ankle joint flexibility on swimming velocity and kick efficiency during UUS by comparing kinematics of swimming trials with reduced, normal, and enhanced maximum angles of plantar flexion. Ten well trained swimmers (5m and 5f; 22 ± 4years; 177 ± 7cm; 74 ± 15kg), performed multiple trials of UUS with normal, restricted, and increased ankle joint flexibility on two separate days in randomized order. Kick frequency was controlled by a metronome. Plantar flexion (PF) was restricted by tape application on both feet and increased by passive-dynamic stretching. All trials were filmed. Kinematics were obtained with two-dimensional motion analysis. Tape application restricted maximum PF by 10.42% while stretching increased PF by 6.87% compared to normal PF. Swimming velocity and kick efficiency significantly decreased during swimming with restricted PF (1.13 ± 0.13m*s−1; 0.69 ± 0.09m) compared to normal (1.20 ± 0.14 m*s−1; 0.72 ± 0.10m) and increased (1.22 ± 0.15m*s−1; 0.73 ± 0.10m) PF. Swimming velocity and kick efficiency did not differ between normal and increased PF. Body height normalized swimming velocity correlated significantly with PF angle (r = 0.538). The results suggest that UUS velocity is affected by impaired PF. Particularly swimmers with low or average maximum PF angles may benefit from a long-term ankle joint flexibility program to improve their UUS performance.