Swim gloves are an excellent accessory for people doing simple aquatic exercises, aquatic walking or jogging, and aquatic aerobics. They’re also sometimes used by swimmers.
Generally, swimmers are advised not to use swim gloves, though. While they provide benefits (which we’ll get to in just a second), they require swimmers to keep their fingers spread apart; this isn’t a good habit for swimmers to develop. If you’re at a point where you’re focused on mastering technique, swim gloves might not be a smart accessory right now.
Because of the webbing between the fingers, swim gloves create additional resistance in the water. This extra resistance increases how hard the muscles throughout your arms and upper body must work, providing a more strenuous workout for more strength-building benefits. If you’re swimming, swim gloves even force your leg muscles to work harder, as you require greater kick propulsion. Thus, swim gloves help build strength and add tone, as well as increase stamina.
As another plus, swim gloves can be part of a hand-care regimen, protecting your skin against the harmful, drying effects of extended submersion, chlorine, salt, and other compounds in the water.
While they aren’t particularly complex, swim gloves come in a variety of styles and there are plenty of products on the market. Most are made of neoprene or rubber. Below are some things to consider when shopping for these swim accessories.
Tips for Buying Swim Gloves
- Neoprene is a good choice for something durable but lightweight, plus its soft texture creates additional drag; rubber is more tight-fitting, more prone to punctures and tears, and its smoother surface results in slightly less drag
- Neoprene is known as an insulating material, so it’ll help keep your hands warm in cold water; however, if you tend get fairly hot and sweaty during aquatic exercises or swims, you might prefer somewhat more breathable rubber swim gloves
- Rubber gloves often contain latex, so watch out for this if you have a latex allergy
- Some gloves are made of elastane (Lycra/Spandex); this synthetic material is durable and comfortable, but it’s more porous, so it creates less resistance and doesn’t protect your skin from the water, chlorine, and other compounds
- Other swim gloves are made of silicone; these are highly durable and offer better insulation than rubber and much more than elastane, but not quite as much as neoprene
- If you’re an open-water swimmer who contends with cold temperatures, the insulation provided by neoprene swim gloves may be much appreciated (in fact, these accessories are much more commonly used by open-water swimmers than pool swimmers)
- Try the gloves on, rotating your wrists and spreading and contracting your fingers; it should be a snug fit, but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable or might restrict your circulation, and your mobility shouldn’t be restricted
- Pay attention to how easy it is to put the swim gloves on and take them off
- Some swim gloves have adjustable wrist straps, and they’re often easier to size and stay on more securely in the water
- Swim gloves either have closed ends or a fingers-out design that lets your fingertips protrude from the gloves; many people find it easier to move around with the fingers-out style