This is an old drill revisited due to a young swimmer posting a comment in the GoSwim app. "Tori" posted that she just learned she had "breaststroker’s knee" and was pretty unhappy about it.
Breaststroker’s knee is a common injury due to either an improper kick, or the overuse that comes with repetitive movements. Simply put, doing the same thing over and over again can cause problems.
Why Do It:
While not all injuries are avoidable, educated athletes can listen to their bodies, and make small manipulations on their movements to vary which muscles and joint angles they work on a daily basis. If you’re swimming a lot of breaststroke, it’ll be important to understand the chances of injury that come with that, and make adjustments before you experience knee pain.
How to Do It:
1. What we’re showing are more drastic angles, and when you’re doing this while swimming, it may be very difficult for the naked eye to spot. You can read more about that idea in this old article, Swimming Inside Your Skin.
2. Now work your breaststroke kick with three different positions. Narrow kick. Normal kick. Wide kick.
3. Swim a set, or a day, or a week, using your normal breaststroke kick. You’ll want to swim mostly in this style since it’s the way you’ll be racing.
4. Every few days, or when you start feeling pain, switch to a variation of your kick, either narrow or wide, for the next set, or the next day, or the next week.
5. Continue to vary your kick to allow you to keep swimming breaststroke, rather than to risk overuse injuries.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
This is always the tough question… if kicking too narrow or too wide slows you down, what’s the point? It’s pretty simple actually, sometimes decisions you have to make as a swimmer have to do more with long-term performance than for what’s best today. By learning how to make small adjustments during swimming, or kick sets, you can not only avoid injury, but also, in the long term, build up the fine muscles around the joint to build a stronger overall unit.