Swimming is a low-impact exercise that’s often recommended to people who are recovering from surgeries or injuries. Those who want to avoid high-impact exercises, like running, or those who can’t perform high-impact exercises due to injuries or age, can take up swimming. When you go swimming, you’ll be able to burn calories while also building your muscles.
It’s also been seen that swimming can help relieve back pain, especially lower back pain. When you swim, the water’s buoyancy ends up counteracting gravity. As a result, the compressive load on the spine decreases. This allows people to enjoy the benefits of cardiovascular activity, without it causing pain.
Performing cardiovascular activities on a regular basis has also been linked to reducing pain. What you’ll need to focus on is using the right swimming strokes. You can swim as long as you don’t feel tired. To reduce back pain, exercises that can strengthen the paraspinal muscles are extremely helpful. When patients who have back pain swim on a regular basis, the water’s buoyancy allows them to exercise the various muscles in their body more effectively.
Why you should take the time to prepare before going swimming
When you go swimming in your fibreglass pools sunshine coast, you should feel comfortable. You should already know how to swim as well. If you feel that you aren’t good at swimming, then taking some swimming lessons for adults might be a good idea. If you aren’t a good swimmer, then you can try to compensate for your lack of swimming experience by working harder. This can increase the stress load that your back experiences.
But say you’re someone who is already experienced in swimming. Even if this is the case, you should do some warm-up exercises first. You can practice basic stretching and warming-up exercises on the pool’s shallow end. You could also try water walking or water jogging, as a way to warm up.
What swimming strokes should you use to reduce back pain?
The swimming strokes that you use can either help your back pain, or it can cause the pain to become worse. This is why you should only swim using strokes that keep your spine protected. Freestyle swimming or using the backstroke can provide you with the most benefits when it comes to reducing back pain.
You can also use a snorkel while swimming. When you use a snorkel while you’re freestyle swimming, you won’t have to lift your head. As a result, you won’t back to arch your back, which could otherwise have caused back pain.
If your back pain is extreme, then avoid using strokes that force you to arch your back. The butterfly stroke, for example, requires you to arch your lower back, which could cause pain.
How often should you swim and for how long?
Maybe you enjoy swimming so much that you want to use your fibreglass pool every day. But when you have back pain, you should moderate how much you swim, or you could experience injuries associated with overusing your muscles.
Ideally, you should be avoiding any kind of activity that makes your back pain worse. If your body feels sore for a few hours after you go swimming, then this isn’t a problem. But if the soreness lasts till the following day, then this could be a sign that you’re overdoing it.
In the beginning, swim no more than three days every week. Each of your swimming workouts should be between twenty to thirty minutes. If your body feels good after swimming, you can slowly increase the amount of time you spend in the water.
Essential tips for swimming when you have lower back pain
Here are three important tips for you to follow, when you start swimming to reduce your back pain.
Shear forces should be avoided
A lot of the strokes that you may commonly use while swimming can cause a shear force to be created. This shear force affects the structures that are present in the lower back area. When you’re repeatedly rotating your hips and lower spine, this also creates shear force. This shear force leads to discs as well as other sensitive structures in the lower back breaking down.
If you want to prevent shear force from being created, you can:
Use a snorkel or a mask while swimming. This will reduce the need for you to lift your head up to breathe in air, which would have required you to arch your back. You also won’t have to worry about rotating your back while you turn your head to inhale air.
You can consider working with a swimming coach to learn how you can perfect your swimming strokes. Keeping your shoulders and hips in line with each other can help you swim better.
Use strokes that are friendly on the spine
The swimming strokes you use can affect the spine. Some strokes can make your back pain worse, while others can help reduce the pain.
Avoid using the butterfly stroke and the breaststroke. These strokes require you to arch your lower spine backward. Such movements can put pressure on your facet joints, located in the spinal column. This can make your pain worse.
Strokes like the freestyle stroke as well as backstrokes can help reduce your back pain. When you use these strokes, you aren’t forcing yourself to arch your back. But, note that the risk of experiencing pain related to the discs or other lower back structures can increase. This is as the lower back is repeatedly rotated.
If you find that swimming is hard on you, then consider water therapy instead. Also called pool therapy, you’ll essentially be exercising in water that is warm. You can greatly benefit from the buoyancy of the water, as well as the gentle water resistance.
You can experience a lot of the same benefits with water therapy, as you would’ve experienced with swimming. Since you’re exercising in the water, the pressure applied to your spine is less. There is a point to exercising in warm water as well. The water’s warmth can help you relax muscles that are tight. This extends the range of motion you have. You’ll also be able to exercise longer.
If you have lower back pain, then swimming can really help you. However, before you plunge into your fibreglass pool to get a good workout, talk to your doctor first. Ensure that your doctor gives you to go-ahead to start exercising. Compared to high-impact exercises like running, swimming can help you stay in shape without increasing your back pain. Use the tips in this guide to learn how to swim when you have back pain.