shinfin(TM) Leg Fins Review: No more sinking legs during your swim. (Fins for your legs, freedom for your feet)

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May 2, 2011

shinfin(TM) Leg Fins Review: No more sinking legs during your swim. (Fins for your legs, freedom for your feet)

Swimator Blog May 02, 2011 Final rating: 4.5/5

I have already discussed proper body position while swimming freestyle and the drag forces that act upon your body on numerous occasions on this blog. However, the reality of it is that, it is very easy to say "swim relaxed with good body position", but a bit more difficult to actually perform such feat. It is no surprise that one of the most frequently asked questions I get on the Swimator blog has to deal with the frustration of your legs sinking even if you put your head in the water. So, to help you with keeping your body nice and straight in horizontal position, I have a wonderful treat for you today. What if I told you that there is a piece of a swimming equipment out there which helps to align your body by helping your legs float up to the surface and all that with a minimal effort and time commitment from you. Are you excited yet? Meet the "shinfin™ leg fins".

What are shinfin™ fins and what do they do for you?

Shinfin™ leg fins are a unique type of swim gear, which slightly resembles normal swimming fins, however, before I go into more details, DO NOT mistake shinfin™ fins for actual fins. Please, keep an open mind and forget about regular fins and the propulsion style they give you. Think of it more in terms of a shark, a dolphin or a tuna fish perspective. They all have many fins, but only the rear (caudal) fin gives them pure propulsion, all the other fins (e.g. dorsal, pectoral) are mainly for vertical maneuvering or directional changes. shinfin™ fins are in this case a combination of vertical maneuvering fins like the pectoral fins on a shark, and a streamlined propulsion style like the caudal fin of a dolphin. Another analogy could be the one of a dolphin flipper. Dolphin has also flippers in addition to fins and rear flukes. The difference is that flippers contain some residues of bone structures in them and fins do not. With shinfin™ fins it is very similar as they are attached to your legs and not feet, so the lower part of your leg is actually integrated as a part of the shinfin™ product, like a flipper.

So, now that we have established our open mindedness, let’s begin. As I already mentioned, the unique visible difference between regular swimming fins and shinfin™ fins is that shinfin™ fins attach to your shinbone and extend on the top of the front of your foot. This leaves your foot free for walking, pushing off the walls or diving into to the pool. This leg attachment also alleviates any ankle or cramping problem swimmers often experience from wearing regular fins on their feet.

The structural design of the shinfin™ leg fins is also quite unique. The rounder shape of the fin in combination with the attachment to the leg works as a lift force on your lower limbs while making it harder to bend your knees. This is prefect for swimming, because wearing the fins on your shins will cause your legs to rise automatically (even without kicking) and it will make it a bit more difficult to bend your knees (working your quad muscles a bit harder). If you recollect from my previous body drag article, such a position and narrow kick reduces swimmer’s drag in the water and allows a swimmer to focus on improving other important aspects of the stroke. In other words, with fins on your shins rather than you feet you will swim in a nice streamlined position with minimal effort and high efficiency, so fighting the water to stay afloat will no longer be your problem.

What are the specifications of shinfin™ leg fins?

The fins are made out of a very pleasant high quality polyurethane material. Softer at the toe side of the fin to allow the fin move through the water easier while not putting too much pressure on your toes and tougher on the leg side to keep it nicely snug to the leg.
The fins come with two heavy-duty rubber straps which are used to attach the fins to your legs. The putting on and taking off of the fins takes a bit to get used to, however, when you figure out the right motions for the job, you can get them on and off without any hassle. The manufacturer also supplies very detailed instructions on how to do that inside the package with the fins, so that will make the task easier when you try it for the first time. Once shinfin™ leg fins are adjusted properly on your shins they feel quite nice and comfortable on the legs without any major discomforts.

The fins are almost made in the one size fits all equivalent. They come in one size which should fit for swimmers between 140 - 200cm (4'7" - 6'6") tall. To top it off, you have a choice of three colors: blue, white and black, so getting them to match your swim suit is not a problem :).

How to use shinfin™ fins?

There are many uses one can think of for the fins on your shins. Below are just some main examples where shinfin™ leg fins will be beneficial to improve your swimming stroke, your overall fitness or experience from the performed activity:
  • Improving body position by raising legs to the surface during freestyle swimming
  • Strengthening the upkick part of the kicking cycle by introducing extra resistance on the upkick
  • Learning the proper butterfly rhythm is easier since shinfin™ fins will lessen the knee bend and bring feet closer to the surface of the water. This way you don’t have to spend so much effort getting yourself out of the water to breath and instead focus on good undulation
  • Streamlining your kick - one of the most common mistakes during freestyle is the exaggerated span of the kicks. Most beginner swimmers kick too far down which causes extra drag. With the shinfin™ fins you are guided to kick in a smaller space, like if your feet were trapped in a bucket.
  • Improving body balance during breathing - another common mistake is spreading your legs during a breath in freestyle. With shinfin™ fins you get an extra support for your body during your breathing, so taking a breath is a breeze.
  • Strengthening the legs and core body area during water aerobics exercises and water running
  • Working stomach muscles during flipturns - doing flipturns with these fins is not really straight forward as the fins will get stuck half way through the turn when your feet stick half way out of the water, so here you can use your abs to get them to finish the rotation
  • Eliminating calf cramps and walking clumsiness during longer snorkel trips. You can also wear more comfortable shoes with the shinfin™ fins and as a bonus you might just save some coral by not kicking into it with longer diving fins.

Summary: Pros and Cons

All in all, the shinfin™ leg fins do the job of bringing the swimmer in more horizontal streamlined position very nicely. Having your legs sink and overtly bending your knees after you put on the shinfin™ leg fins is almost impossible. So, whether you are a beginner who is learning to swim or an advanced swimmer, shinfin™ fins will help you improve. (be it as an aid to your body alignment or as a tool to strengthen your legs and core body) Furthermore, the universal usage and the one size fits all solution is an awesome addition to your family’s arsenal of swimming toys. Beware however, if you start off expecting shinfin™ leg fins to have the same propulsion style as regular fins you could end up disappointed. The fins for your shins serve a quite different purpose than then regular fins, so in my opinion they are mutually exclusive and not alternatives.

Hints:
  • Make the straps wet before you attempt to adjust the straps. Actually, try to put the fins on in the water as the extra water helps them slip through the slits.
  • Do not be afraid of bending and pushing on the polyurethane material when adjusting your straps. The material of the fin and the strap is very durable, so don’t worry about using more power to get the desired snug fit.
Pros:
  • easy to use
  • adjusting straps is simple
  • very light compared to regular fins
  • work wonders with the sinking legs
  • great for leg quad muscle workout and for upkick
  • lessens ankle pressure and cramping
Cons:
  • putting the fins on takes getting used to, perhaps the attachment is due for an overhaul
  • if you have very hairy legs, it could be a challenge not to tear some of that forest cover out
  • price is a bit on the higher end USD 102.15 / GBP 62.96, however, it is a small price to pay for enjoyable and relaxed swimming experience
Final rating: 4.5/5
  • usability/effectiveness - 5/5
  • material - 5/5
  • look and feel - 4.5/5
  • price/value - 3.5/5

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3 comments:

Simply Swim said...

Hi, We've done a video reply, Fin advice from Simply Swim. Take a look at the video link below as we demo the use of fins as a training aid. We look at the benefits you can get from using them, discuss the different types available and also offer you our top tips.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfYq9IYZmHY&feature=channel_video_title


Look forward to your feedback!

Cheers,
Chris - www.simplyswim.com

Swimsuits

Heidi said...

I am considering purchasing these for a different purpose than described. We have a son who had his feet amputated 8 months ago. So he has nothing below the ankle. He is tiny in size when not wearing prosthetics due to missing the fibula in both legs also. He typically swims with nothing. He gets around pretty good. But, he has a desire to wear flippers. Which of course won't work without feet. These seem like a perfect solution. However. Will they fit tiny legs? His legs are probably the equivalent size of a 3-4 year old even though he is 8. He is very strong and does swim even without anything. Are they returnable if they don't work out?

Libor J said...

@Heidi: thanks for sharing your situation. I'd imagine the fins would fit ok and could work well, however, to be sure, I'd suggest contacting the inventor of the fin http://www.shinfin.com/shopaff.asp?affid=115. He'll be able to answer all of your questions. Hope it works for your son.