Is Swimming Good For Lower Back Pain?

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Is your lower back hurting? Jump into the pool! Studies show that swimming can relieve pain in patients with lower back pain and build up your body against back pain. Today we’ll look at all the reasons why swimming is good for your lower back pain. Our prediction: you’ll be signing up for a pool membership in no time.

Lower Back Pain

As you may know, most lower back pain is caused by strained muscles and/or ligaments. Often this occurs because of sudden movements, excessive use and/or imbalanced muscle groups. If you want to resolve lower back pain in the long-run, experts recommend avoiding high-impact exercise (that requires fast and repetitive joint motion) and using low-impact exercise to build up lumbar muscles and better support the body.

Reasons Why Swimming Can Help

Swimming is an ideal way to get low-impact exercise and relieve your lower back pain. The unique environment of swimming can do a lot for your body and really get you in shape for becoming pain-free in the future. In fact, researchers have found that swimming helps patients with lower back pain more than dryland exercises.

1. Swimming reduces stress in your joints. 

The buoyancy of water is a big help to those suffering from back pain. In the water, your body weight is completely supported. Unlike like walking or biking, this means that your joints won’t have to bear any weight. This is the perfect way to work on your lumbar muscles without worrying about the stress and pressure of your weight. You’ll get the workout you need to strengthen your muscles without pounding your joints painfully.

2. Water is relieving on your muscles. 

In general, water is relieving on your muscles. When you go swimming, the water will keep your muscles loose and relaxed. Some athletic centers even have heated pools, which are even better for getting your muscles in a fluid position to workout. Warm water is also shown to have a pain relieving effect.

3. Swimming builds a wide range of muscles.

You use almost every muscle group when you swim. It’s a full-body exercise that requires you to engage lots of muscles, including important ones like your core, lower back, shoulders and calves. This is ideal for lower back pain because it means you’ll build up your core and lumbar region so that you can better support your weight on land. In addition, the resistance of pulling your arms out of the water strengthens muscles more quickly than other types of exercise.

4. Swimming increases your range of motion. 

Because swimming works so many muscles and suspends your body weight, it has the effect of boosting your range of motion. After a period of swimming, you’ll notice that your body is more flexible and your muscles have a larger range of motion. This is great news for your lower back pain, since you can prevent tears or strains by boosting your motion. In this way, sudden or awkward movements don’t affect your back as much.

Swimming Exercises to Try Out

When you start swimming for lower back relief, start small. If you’re not ready to do full laps, try something more mild. Overall, there are three exercises that will do wonders for your back:

  • Water aerobics: This is a series of movements in the water that can boost your muscles and get your comfortable with exercising in water. Sign up for a class to get guidance!
  • Pool walking: Instead of swimming, you can also walk through water. You’ll need a swallow pool to do this, but it can be extremely good for starting your pool workouts. Your joints won’t feel a thing!
  • Laps: In the end, laps require the most physical exertion. Laps are really good for boosting your muscles and getting the aerobic exercise you need. Try to work up to doing laps.

Tips for Swimming with Lower Back Pain 

When you start to swim, be mindful of your lower back pain. While swimming is quite safe for your back, you’ll want to follow these tips to avoid hurting it accidentally:

  • Use good technique: If you’re not sure how to swim properly, hire a trainer at first. You will need to use good technique so that your body stays in alignment and you don’t strain your neck, shoulder and back muscles when you go to breathe.
  • Focus on spine-friendly strokes: Backstroke and sidestroke are best for back pain because you don’t need to arch your back to do them. Freestyle is also good, though if you have disc problems, you may want to avoid the repetitive motion of freestyle. Butterfly and breastroke require arching your back, so you will want to save those for when your back has healed and you can continue to build up your lumbar region.
  • Put on a snorkel: You may feel funny using a snorkel in a pool, but it’s a great idea to avoid twisting your neck and shoulders. This may help relieve back pain because you don’t have to turn your head. In addition, you may feel more comfortable as you start to do laps.
  • Add a kickboard or a pool noodle: You can also try using a kickboard or a pool noodle to support your body even more as you swim. This may be a good idea to learn proper technique and also to ensure that you aren’t overdoing it at first.
  • Build your swimming muscles on dryland: If you want to build your swimming muscles even further, or make sure that you’re using the right technique, you can also do swimmer stretches in your own home so that you’re even more ready to hit the pool.

Final Takeaway

Splash away your lower back pain by swimming on a regular basis. However, if you continue to suffer from lower back pain, it may be a good idea to see a specialist as well. Contact a chiropractor near you to get a customized care plan for your lower back. An expert chiropractic clinic – such as Chiropractor Anchorage AK – will make sure that your appointment goes swimmingly.

About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998. He became passionate about being a chiropractor after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. Dr. Wells hopes to treat his patients with care and compassion, while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.

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About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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