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Leg kicking strength
ScubaMoose - 9/12/2017 12:17 AM
Category: Health & Safety
Replies: 4

Recently when checking into some new fins, I was told that the "power stroke" was a person’s forward (downward) kick. This surprised me, because I’ve always had a lot more power in my backward (upward) kick.....especially when against current and during surface swims or snorkeling. The salesman acted like I was a freak.

I mentioned this "power stroke" to a couple of other divers, and they also said that they have always felt their downward kick was weaker (and often caused more ankle pain) than their upward kick.

Which kick direction do you have the most power? And what, if anything, have you done to strengthen your forward/downward kick?
Eric_R - 9/12/2017 7:08 AM
I think it depends on the type of speed your trying to attain and the style of kick. For me when doing just a general dive of exploring, I go very slow and usually do small kicks with knees already bent up. This type of kick gives more power on the down stroke. The same goes for a modified traditional flutter Kick, where I keep my knees still and bent up slightly and kick never fully straitening my leg. Another reason for these type of kicks is that it allows me to get closer to the bottom without disturbing the silt and ruining the viz.
Even when I do a full on traditional flutter I get more power on the down stroke. I think this is because I have a tendency to keep my head lower then my feet again to keep from disturbing silt.
DiverfromBaskingRidge - 9/12/2017 2:15 PM

Watch this youtube video and see if it helps you understand why the down stroke is more powerful than the upward stroke. After he explains how to flutter kick he does it in the water and you can see the fin in action - the down stroke is pushing the diver forward the up kick is actually bending the fin and not providing much forward motion.

Depending on your own kick - you may want to get someone to video you - GoPro is great for this... and then you can see what you are actually doing vs thinking you are doing... :-)
JeffNColdWater - 9/12/2017 3:25 PM
Because of the way the human body is made we walk using the back of our legs which become naturally stronger, this is gives us the feeling of greater power during an upstroke these are the most powerful leg muscles. But the down stroke is more efficient in how it delivers weaker muscle force, consider how much easier it is to kick a soccer ball forward than backward. So it will depend on your kicking style, trim, body mass and fins as to which stroke converts more muscle energy into speed/power/velocity. I think that is why most seasoned divers I know speak more of efficient kicking vs. powerful kicking.
ScubaMoose - 9/12/2017 8:31 PM
Thanks for the inputs. The flutter kick is what I use when covering distance, but evidently just need to exercise my quads to strengthen them. I was hoping it wasn’t just me! ; ) It’s when I have to swim against stronger currents for longer amounts of time, that I really have to strain with my downward kick. And I struggle even more with the downward kick when snorkeling with my dive fins. In land sports like football and baseball, I was one of the guys that could accelerate more quickly, so maybe my hamstrings are just a lot more powerful than my quads.