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Training with paddles can be a great way to increase strength in the pool, but there’s a risk of adding them into your workout mix too soon.
The decision regarding whether or not you should use paddles should not be made purely off a time or pace standard. Instead, the choice to add paddles to your routine should be based upon your technique and stroke in the water. Paddles exponentially increase the force placed on your muscles and joints during each stroke. If your current technique is slightly awry, adding paddles might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and suddenly you have a shoulder injury.
If you’re a beginner, ask your coach if he or she thinks you are technically ready for paddles. Always start with a small paddle so your body can slowly adjust to the added resistance. If you’re an experienced swimmer, beware the risk of relying on paddles when you get tired in the pool—using them when your form is at its worst will only hurt you in the long run.