Shaun is an above knee amputee who snorkels wearing a pair of shinfinTM fins, one fin on his prosthetic leg and the other fin on his shin. He is very happy with them, especially because of the easier water entry, water exit and streamlined kicking propulsion technique. Also, he highly values that the fins are light and compact enough to fit into his small carry-on backpack, for ultralight traveling. His story is very useful for above knee amputees and below knee amputees swimming with waterproof prosthetic legs, for snorkeling and other water activities too.
Shaun’s review from Redondo Beach, USA
“The shinfinTM fins worked great for me and had a ton of benefits. Overall I couldn’t be happier.”
Shaun’s review: Above knee amputee wearing fins with prosthetic leg for snorkeling
“Just quick email about my use of my shinfinTM fins. Since I am an above knee amputee who always wears my prosthetic in the water, it has been impossible to find anything that would work as a fin but still allow me to safely walk to rocky beach entry snorkeling locations. I sometimes use a single foot fin but it feels awkward to just use one fin. Plus putting on and removing the foot fin from my good leg is tough without balance/flex in my prosthetic leg.”
“I decided that shinfinTM fins would be worth a try and purchased them for our trip to Aruba. The only adaption I did to your strap design was to create a quick release buckle for my prosthetic side to make it much easier to put on and take off, since I obviously can’t wiggle around and bend to angles needed to use the straps as designed on my prosthetic. (See more buckle discussion below.)”
“I use a plastic prosthetic knee cover that somewhat mimics my lower leg. For the way I wear the shinfinTM fin, it works great since it allows the fin to “lock” in place.”
Easier walking for water entry and exit
“As I type this, we are in our hotel after snorkeling at several spots around Aruba for the day. The shinfinTM fins worked great for me and had a ton of benefits.”
“First, is the fact that I can walk with the fins and wear reef shoes.”
“Next, entry and exit from water was easier because I never have to try to remove them. Due to the way the straps work, they allowed me to walk through wave surges, since the fin would just flap and move around my ankle rather than allowing the water flow to pull my feet around.”
“When I am in the water, I lock my knee into a straight position. So I can kick a bit and have the stability of a pegleg when I walk in and out of the water. Since I sidestep as I enter and exit the beach, I was able to rotate the fin on my forward good leg to minimize how the water surges affected me trying to walk over shallow water rock beaches. No way to do that with a regular fin. The fact that the strap allowed the shinfinTM fin to flex, which kept me from having my foot shoved around, was great.”
Snorkeling propulsion with prosthetic
“In the water, they worked as designed. As you say they are not true scuba fins but they are definitely better than nothing. Since my prosthetic foot stays at 90° angle, I set the shinfinTM fin where the knee would be, so the tip of the fin sits on my prosthetic instep. When kicking I could see the fin working as I swam. So I at least know I can get some propulsion from my prosthetic leg, even though my foot is locked at 90 degrees.”
Walking back to car with prosthetic knee
“Best of all, when I get out of the water I never even have to remove them to walk back to the car. The fins had no affect on my ability to walk with a prosthetic knee. My knee was a small bit slower in its swing rate as I walked, due to wind resistance and extra weight. But it did not become an issue at all at a reasonable walking pace. And the fins did not bump against each other like I thought they might.”
“Overall I couldn’t be happier. My only suggestion for amputees is to possibly set up a quick release buckle, since we can’t flex our ankles and legs enough to easily use the normal strap slots.”
“Thanks for a fin that I can use as an amputee. (Feel free to post this as feedback but just use first name please.)”
That is wonderful to hear how you are getting all those the benefits from your fins.
I take your point about the quick-release buckle for your prosthetic. It seems you have solved it well! (I’ve tried that kind of thing but it tends to hurt the leg.)
I really recommend that you pass the straps through the outer slots, as they are designed to be stronger for that. That uses the extra strength of the buckle “bars” to hold the fin more securely. The way you have it now, it might tear at the ends of the slots.
“Good info about possibly tearing the straps. Since we are beach diving near parking lots, I took that into account and decided to remove my prosthetic in the car, which allows me to more easily attach the fin straps as designed. Due to the way my prosthetic socket is designed, I am unable to easily reach my knee area to do this if I am wearing the prosthetic.”
“So I will not use the quick release buckles, unless I am in a situation where I can’t remove my leg. With the quick release buckles, it really does make it much easier to put on the fin while wearing the prosthetic. If I can remove my leg, I don’t need to use buckles and can reduce any risk of damage to the strap.”
“We did not have our waterproof camera the first day. So hopefully I will get some pics and/or video over the next several days so I can get those to you also.”
It was actually tearing the fin at the ends of the inside slots that I was concerned about, if you have the strap pulling at those points. I think the strap itself should be fine with the buckle that you have. Unless you think there are any sharp edges to cut the strap.
Yes, underwater pics and video would be great please. I think it would really help others to see how you are using them. I hope this helps you Shaun.
“Finally got around to some videos of me snorkeling with them. Not the best videos but maybe give another amputee an idea of how they would work.”
“Here is a much clearer video. I moved the ankle float to cut down on air bubbles as I kick and used smaller reef shoes for less water resistance.”
Thanks again for all the videos and for the new one.
My main suggestion is that you should be kicking with your right leg with only a little knee-bend. That is the way to get the streamlined power from your shinfinTM fins for everyone. You should feel the power drive from your hips. The amount of knee-bend you are currently using is about 4 times too much. (You are kicking it like a foot flipper which is not how shinfinTM fins work.)
In other words, your right leg should actually be kicking far more like your left leg. So an added benefit is that you should feel more symmetrical and left/right balanced. It may take a while to strengthen your muscles for this correct streamlined kick with minimal knee-bend. Does this help you and make sense?
Secondly, is there any way that you can reduce the drag from your prosthetic foot? Can you lock it in a more pointed direction when you are swimming perhaps?
I look forward to hearing what you think and how you progress.
“Thank you for the review and suggestions. Unfortunately the style of foot I have is a heavy duty model of 3 lbs of titanium and carbon fiber. So it is stuck as a walking foot and I can’t change the angle. There is a company that makes a scuba dive foot that can rotate and lock into foot fin position. But it costs $3,000 and since I already have my issued foot I would have to pay for it myself. Since I rarely get in the water anymore its not worth it. Plus, at over 6 ft and 200 lbs, that foot is not as durable as my current model. So it would mean I would have to pack it as a spare foot for travel.”
“Thank you for the kicking style info for the fins. I had read about your suggested kicking style. Though it does sort of work, I found that with my prosthetic I have to compensate for the asymmetrical weight differences in my legs. (My prosthetic weighs almost 15 lbs and it’s dead weight.) I am still experimenting with floats and placement of floats to find a balance that works and may even try weight belts to see what balance changes I can adjust.”
“I find that if I try a symmetrical kick, my prosthetic side starts to tilt me over. So it seems I have to compensate with a deeper bent knee kick to stay level. But thankfully that kick seems to work with the fins. Definitely better than no fins at all.”
“In fact we had to do a swim of just over a mile yesterday, due to where we entered and had to exit. The fins were a huge help, even though I am not being efficient with them. Granted I am casually snorkeling and not in a rush. So as long as I am moving forward I am good.”
“Much better than no fins at all, which is how I have done most of my snorkeling with a prosthetic. I hated wearing a single scuba fin. The shinfinTM is nice in that it “feels” good to feel that fin resistance when I subconsciously kick my prosthetic leg.”
“Hopefully other amputees see that the fins can be used in a casual snorkeling situations, without having to switch out feet or purchasing special purpose scuba feet.”
Light & easy to pack
“Another huge advantage to the shinfinTM fins is that we are ultralight backpack travelers. So there is no way I could pack quality regular fins in my small carry-on backpack.”
“I have tried various types of kicking and each has its advantage and disadvantage. But the fins help no matter what. I just have to accept that I use more energy and can’t dive as deep as I used to with my 3 foot long freediving fins. But since I no longer spearfish, I have no reason to go below 20 ft anyway.”
Recommended for other amputees
“If an amputee ever asks about the fins, feel free to direct them to any of the videos. I had been searching for fin ideas for a long time but there were no videos for what I was wanting to do. It’s either people with the fancy scuba feet or people who remove their prosthetic. I wanted to use my normal everyday heavy duty foot and not have to try to put on and remove fins in the water. shinfinTM fins fixed both of those issues.”
Thank you. That is all very interesting and very useful to hear about. Have you done any more snorkeling in the last week or so? Any new thoughts to add?
“We are back from our trip and back in cold Californian waters. So probably won’t get out much till we go to a warm water island again.”
“That’s what made the shinfinTM fins so great. They pack for travel great. Since I rarely get in the water anymore it means I don’t need to have a special purpose scuba foot. Fortunately my everyday leg is a waterproof design. So that means I only had to travel with the leg and foot I wear everyday. And the shinfinTM fin is so unobtrusive. It allows me to walk to the water and not have to juggle putting on/removing the fin in water.”
If you are an above knee amputee or below knee amputee, you can fit shinfinTM fins on waterproof prosthetic leg(s) for swimming, snorkeling and other water sports. It is generally best to wear a pair of shinfinTM fins. If you are a single amputee, wear one fin on your prosthetic leg and the other fin on your shin. If you are a double amputee, fit a fin on each prosthetic leg.
You can strap the fins on a prosthetic leg either before or after you put the leg on. So, in either case, you can walk into and out of the water with your fins on.
shinfinTM fins guide your prosthetic leg(s) towards a streamlined kicking propulsion technique. The fins work with prosthetic feet fixed in walking positions and can reduce some of the foot drag. They also work with prosthetic feet adjusted to more pointed swimming positions, which further reduces foot drag.
The fins are compact and light enough for you to fit into a small carry-on backpack for ultralight traveling.
Overall, shinfinTM fins will be very beneficial for you as an above knee amputee or below knee amputee, for snorkeling and swimming with prosthetic leg(s). You can also use them for many other water activities, for example float tube fishing, where they give you mobility and versatility benefits. The fins are also very beneficial when you wear them directly on your stumps. The choice is yours.
Here is another amputee customer’s view on things you need to know before or after leg amputation.