A kickboard is a flotation aid for swimmers. It consists of a foam board that holds the upper body above the water. Swimmers use kickboards to help develop their lower body and to perfect their kicking.
Swimmers of various abilities use kickboards. Beginners might use them to help them gain confidence and balance above water level. Expert swimmers may use kickboards to work on specific swimming activities like the backstroke and breaststroke as well as freestyle swimming.
Some swimmers may also use kickboards to work the upper body. Swimming enthusiasts refer to a similar tool for upper body work as a “pull buoy.” To use the kickboard as a pull buoy, swimmers hold the board with their lower body and float on it, using the upper body to swim. Others rely on specific pull buoy tools for this kind of exercise.
Some kickboards are equipped with handles for more diverse uses. Others are simply a flat plate of foam. Many kickboards are made with EVA foam, a tough, waterproof polymer. Others are made with HDPE, a polyethylene thermoplastic. HDPE is a recyclable material, and is becoming a popular material choice for many consumer products.
Trainers who want to help clients improve their swimming may recommend using a kickboard, not only to work on isolated leg movements or upper body movements, but also to build endurance. Trainers may recommend stretching or other warm-up or cool-down processes to help swimmers prepare for training tasks like kickboard activities. Gyms with pools may keep kickboards on hand for those who can benefit from using them.
According to some expert trainers, it is important to change kicking styles when using a kickboard. This is partly to prevent certain kinds of fatigue that relate to body rigidity. Changing styles also helps to avoid overworking muscle groups that may not get a lot of use outside of the water. It’s also good to wait an hour after eating before starting an aquatic workout.
In addition to conventional uses for kickboards, some swimmers use them to work the core muscles, the muscle groups that carry the body and support the spinal column. Working the core is a good way to stay healthy and avoid some kinds of injuries. Kickboards are also useful in some kinds of physical therapy because using them can isolate muscle groups. Kickboard activities may be recommended for post-surgery patients. Talk to doctors before using kickboards or other gear after a surgical procedure.