Trouble treading water? Mobility and stretching exercises can help


Learning to tread water is not easy. Many candidates struggle with participating in military training programs that involve aquatic proficiency, diving, and life-saving duties. The unfortunate reason is that most people underestimate the challenges ahead.

Kicking is tough, especially when you have a below-average body fat percentage that makes simple levitation not an option. When you’re lean, you have to work even harder to stay afloat.

Like the crowd pleaser mobility dayThis workout introduces treading water as the primary non-impact cardio source in a series of five-minute kicking and five-minute stretching and mobility sessions.

Repeat five times.

Kick without hand: 5 minutes

Stretch and foam roller: 5 minutes

water treading

The goal here is to develop hip, knee, and ankle mobility to get an effective scissor punch, chest punch, or whisk punch. Most people I teach struggle with general hip to foot mobility, a condition that renders their kicks almost useless. You must exert considerable downward force to keep your head above the surface of the water.

A breaststroke or whisk (which is nothing more than an alternate breaststroke kick) requires a downward kicking motion in which you push water with the inside of your shin and foot as if you were kicking a soccer ball to the bottom of the pool.

The name of the Eierschläger kick is a misnomer. The stroke doesn’t require the swimmer to rotate their legs in a horizontal circular path like a whisk spins, but rather uses a vertical pattern so you create vertical lift with these alternating breaststroke kicks. Watch the beginner’s egg beater kick instructional video.

Once you see the stroke and how it requires hip, leg, knee and ankle mobility you will understand the need for the out of water mobility sessions in this workout.


Bring a pad and a foam roller to the pool so you can spend the five minutes out of the water productively stretching your hips, knees, inner thighs, and ankles with basic static stretches.

If you need even more warm-up time, you can stretch and stretch in the water (chest deep) for the first five minutes Do a series of dynamic stretches (in the water) to warm up and loosen up the muscles and joints of the lower body a little more before static stretching.

You can choose how you stretch during the five-minute sessions. Many will perform some of their old favorites like hurdle steps, toe touches, or hip openers, or choose options straight from the yoga class.

Here are some of my favorites, but find the ones that will help you improve your kick movement deficiencies.

route 1: Half pigeon attitude

(Stew Smith)

This one is harder than it looks, but it’s a great way to stretch your hips, lower back, inner thighs, and knees.

Track 2: Crescent, also known as the longest track in the world

(Stew Smith)

This one’s pretty damn good, although the Crescent Pose moniker might be a bit of an exaggeration. There are many variations such as B. Rotating the upper body and straightening the front leg to stretch the hamstrings more.

Stretch 3: Sit on your shins

(Stew Smith)

This stretches your knees and ankles. If you want more ankle stretch, slightly lift your toes. You can also straighten your knees more by opening your legs and pulling your feet to the side (inner feet on the floor) like you’re kicking a soccer ball through the floor. This helps position the whisk kick power. You really need ankle mobility when swimming with the big SCUBA fins required for military diving.

Stretch 4: Squats

(Stew Smith)

How deep can you go with your squat? Can you bring your hips closer to your feet and be more vertical with your torso? This challenges the mobility of the ankle, hip and knee. You will need this exercise to master many kicks.

Stretch 5: Pigeon Pose

(Stew Smith)

This one will help open up your hips and hamstrings.

Follow these recommendations to open up your hips, knees, inner thighs, and ankles. As a result, kicks and other swimming kicks generate more power because you use a greater range of motion. Don’t skip mobility day and add more exercises to your day if flexibility and mobility are weaknesses that prevent you from swimming or kicking well.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness writer certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit him Fitness e-book store if you want to start an exercise program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to [email protected]

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