Swimming to help you manage your pain
It does not matter whether you do slow strokes, move around with a flotation device, tread water, or do water aerobics, its all good for you. Swimming is a great non-impact exercise that is joint friendly. It improves cardiovascular health, increases stamina, loosens joints and increases overall flexibility.
Strokes to avoid if you have back pain
The freestyle / front crawl swimming stroke and backstroke tend to be the safer option for those with back pain. The butterfly or the breaststroke puts more force on the spine and may not be a good option; however the freestyle and backstroke involves more back rotation that can irritate low back pain, usually in the mid and upper lumbar area.
More difficult or acute pain may not work for swimming.
For those with chronic back pain, it’s always best to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, but here are some general rules to keep in mind. The main swimming strokes: freestyle/front crawl, butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke, can stress the spines of those with moderate to severe back pain. In this case, aquatic activities other than swimming using conventional strokes should be considered. If you determine that your back pain starts or gets worse when you swim, then swimming might not be the best exercise for you
Trial and ErrorThings to do before starting a swimming routine when experiencing back pain.
- Talk to your doctor and get His advice whether swimming or aquatic exercise is right for you.
- Don’t dive right in. Start slow. Take it easy at first and work your way into it.
- Experiment with different strokes—if painful, try something different.
- Just because it's in water doesn’t mean its good for you. Using a water slide, going tubing or water skiing may not be a wise choice if you have back pain.
Other Pool Back Pain Exercises to Try
There are some good options other than swimming to try if you have access to a pool. If your pain is severe enough to keep you from swimming, here are some other options.
- WATER AEROBICS: This exercise is great for people with back pain. The water limits the impact on the spine by suspending the persons weight. Adding a flotation device can give further protection and support to the back to the back during aquatic exercises.
- WATER RESISTANCE EXCERCISES: Simply moving through water can be a form of resistance exercise, as water resists movement much more than air. Exercise in water also have far less impact on joints, while the water buoys a person weight allowing exercises not possible out of water, such as squats. Arm lifts, leg lifts, and kicks can help tone muscles while putting minimal stresses on the spine.
- POOL WALKING: This can be great especially for lower back pain as the Water takes a lot of the impact away from the spine. Pool-walking workouts can be as long or short as you like, but 20–45 minutes is a good length of time to get your heart rate up and in the zone that allows you to work on cardiovascular health.
Stretching your back is a great way to relieve painful back joints. On land you do this by laying own on the floor, and getting in that position may be difficult for someone with back problems. Doing decompression in water circumvents that problem, by allowing you to do this standing up. Stand chest-deep in water with your arms out to your side and your head, neck, and spine aligned. Next, slowly lift one leg up to parallel before dropping it back down. Repeat this motion on both sides and feel the stretch in your lower back, buttocks, and legs.
Is swimming good for sciatic nerve pain?
Just as the buoyancy of water reduces pressure on your joints, it also reduces pressure on your nerves. Being in water can relieve sciatica, or pain in the sciatic nerve, but some people find it can aggravate the pain. Stretching properly before swimming can help improve this problem. See More about Sciatic Nerve Pain.
Is swimming good for tailbone pain?
Tailbone pain, also known as coccyx pain or coccydynia, can be relieved during and immediately after swimming because the pressure caused by sitting or lying down is eliminated when swimming.
Is swimming good for herniated disc?
Swimming may be a good way to relieve pain and discomfort caused by a herniated or slipped disc, but the exercise should not be approached aggressively. People with a herniated disc should swim gently, as vigorous swimming can irritate their condition. The overall goal is to exercise the body to strengthen core muscles, and get a workout without putting stress on the spinal disc. If traditional swimming strokes are too challenging, try water-based resistance exercises. See more about herniated discs.
Is swimming good for sacroiliac joint pain?
Yes, swimming can be good for sacroiliac joint pain. Exercise can be difficult for people with sacroiliac joint pain because the space between the ilium and the sacrum is inflamed. Land-based exercises can put a lot of pressure on these joints causing inflammation and discomfort. Water relieves the pressure by supporting most of the patient’s body weight, allowing them to work out without irritating the sacroiliac joint. See more on sacroilliac joint pain.