Swimming for Back Pain Relief

With summer just around the corner, there are beach vacations and outdoor excursions to look forward to in the warm weather. But for someone with back pain, the options may be limited for physical activity with the family. While on vacation at a resort or at the neighborhood pool, one activity that someone with back pain can willingly partake in is swimming.

Whether you’re overcoming an injury or suffering from sciatica, bulging disc, spinal stenosis or another neck or back condition, swimming and other activities in the pool are great ways to strengthen a weak back. Before starting any kind of aquatic exercise or activity, be sure to consult with your physician and start a gradual regimen. Consider working with a coach or physical therapist
while swimming to ensure safety.

When in a pool or body of water, the human body is supported by the water naturally, which takes all stress off the joints. Unlike most aerobic exercise, swimming is low-impact and doesn’t require very much twisting or contact with your back that could potentially cause pain. As the muscles in the neck and back are strengthened they enhance the support your spinal column, reducing discomfort and pain.

Advantages of swimming:

  1. Family friendly: Take your family for a trip to the local pool, gym or beach for some fun time in the water. It’s a great way to spend some time with your family and get in a workout.
  2. Seeing sunshine: Being in the pool allows you and your family to soak up some extra rays and increase your vitamin D intake. Just remember to lather on that sunscreen!
  3. Zero gravity: Yes, gravity is still present, but being in the water makes you feel weightless! Swimming is a great low-impact exercise that you can do to help build up your core to strengthen your spine.
  4. Builds strong muscles: Moving in the water can help your build strong muscles to support your spine because of the resistance it offers. Just remember that even though you feel weightless in the water, you need to carefully monitor your movements to protect your back.
  5. Heart healthy: Swimming is a wonderful way to sneak in those cardio hours and increase your heart rate without putting too much strain on your neck and back.

For most people, swimming is an excellent activity to help relieve neck or back pain, but it is very important to stay safe while swimming to not cause additional injury. Make sure you stretch before jumping in. Also, don’t overdo your workout. Start swimming gradually, one or two times per week.  While doing your strokes, be aware of repetitive or awkward motions that could strain muscles.

If you have severe back pain, start by just walking in a pool in waist-deep water. The resistance of the water is more strengthening to walk on than dry ground. Another stroke a beginner swimmer should try is breaststroke because it doesn’t involve a lot of twisting or jarring motion.

Keep in mind before starting any kind of exercise or therapy to consult with your physician or physical therapist to ensure that you aren’t putting yourself at risk for additional injury. He or she can determine the best course of treatment for your pain and provide suggestions for relief.

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