Swimming paddles were invented in the beginning of the 18th century. In the following 300 years, they have gone through manifold of successive alterations but the overall concept has remained the same. With the exception of finger- and anti-paddles, the traditional swimming paddle has a surface area slightly bigger than the swimmer’s hand and covers the hand and the fingers entirely. With such a surface area, the paddle’s center of pressure is located approximately between the swimmer’s upper palm and fingers as indicated by the intersections of the two red lines in the image below:
We thought that by shifting the center of pressure down to the lower palm we could design a more effective swimming paddle. To achieve this, we made the swimming paddle shorter and wider. The top edge of this new swimming paddle, which we named VoloBlades, does not extend beyond the top of the palm, allowing for the fingers to retain absolute freedom of movement. Because VoloBlades are shorter and wider, their center of pressure is located in the lower palm, as indicated by the intersection of the two red lines on the image below:
The benefits of a swimming paddle with a lowered center of pressure will become evident when we evaluate two activities during which the arms move in a similar manner to the movements during the pull phase of a swim stroke.
Suppose you are pulling yourself up onto the deck from the deep end of the pool. You place your hands on the deck and push down with the lower parts of your palms. You automatically do this, because subconsciously you know that it is the position from which you will generate the most power. By pushing down with the lower palms, you are recruiting bigger muscles, the lats specifically, which enable you to generate enough power to pull yourself onto the deck.
In contrast, if you try to pull yourself up onto the deck by pushing down with the upper palms or fingers, you will notice that it is significantly harder. By pushing down with your upper palms or fingers, you are recruiting smaller muscles, the triceps and shoulders, which are not as powerful as lats, making the task of pulling yourself up onto the deck nearly impossible.
Consider now an exercise with an abs wheel. You stand on your feet or kneel on your knees and roll as far out as you can and then roll back in. Whether you are going out or in, you push down on the handles with the lower parts of your palms. Similar to getting out of the pool, you don’t consciously think about where to place your hands; it just happens automatically. By pushing down on the handle with the lower palms you are engaging the bigger muscles, lats and core, which are powerful enough to enable you to roll out forward and roll back in without falling on your face.
If, however, you try to push down on the handle with the top parts of the palms or your fingers, it becomes virtually impossible to extend forward even a little bit without falling down. You fall because by pushing down on the handle with the upper palms or the fingers, you are recruiting smaller muscles, triceps and shoulders, which cannot generate as much power as the lats and the core and which cannot sustain your weight in the air.
Both examples describe arm movements analogous to the arm movement during the pull phase of the swim. Pulling yourself up by pushing down on the deck is equivalent to pulling yourself forward by pushing down on the water. Likewise, rolling out and then back in on the abs wheel is similar to pushing down the water during the pull phase of the stroke.
Furthermore, both examples demonstrate that pushing with the lower part of the palms generates significantly more power than pushing with the upper palms or the fingers. The same is true for swimming: pushing down the water with the lower palm during the pull phase of the swim generates more power. All other things equal, a swimmer with a more powerful pull will swim faster.
VoloBlades, due to their unique design, shift down the center of pressure, encouraging swimmers to pull with the lower palm. In addition, VoloBlades help swimmers develop awareness of what it feels like to pull with the lower palm as well as awareness of the connection between the hand, the arm and the core.
Swimming paddles have been around for almost 300 years. In that time, there have been numerous minor alterations but neither the overall concept nor design has changed significantly. VoloBlades, however, stand out because of their unique design and because of the way that they mimic natural movement, capitalizing on core muscles to help swimmers get stronger. We believe that VoloBlades will help you become a faster and more efficient swimmer because VoloBlades help develop a more powerful pull and bring about overall awareness of the connection between the hand, the arm and the core, all of which are necessary components for efficient and fast swimming.