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Swimming to Relieve Back Pain

Severe back pain can often deter patients from exercising as lifting weights, running, and even walking can become increasingly difficult when experiencing back pain. However, swimming is often a safe and pain-free way to get in exercise without putting pressure on your back and joints. The buoyancy of the water eliminates the stress that is usually absorbed by our joints during exercise, allowing you to remain active while simultaneously providing pain relief. And, you actually build muscle faster in water than on land due to water’s viscosity—water is 12 times as resistant as air.

If you choose to swim to help relieve your back pain, don’t just dive in, especially if you are new to swimming. Begin with standing exercises, like pool aerobics classes, to strengthen your core muscles and adapting your body to the water. When it’s time to swim laps, make sure to take the time to learn the strokes properly. Understanding and adopting correct swimming technique is extremely important, so consider enlisting the help of a trainer or coach to help you learn the proper strokes. All forms of exercise, if done improperly, can cause pain and discomfort, so it is important to learn the correct techniques to stay safe in the pool.

What’s the best way to achieve pain relief in the pool? While all strokes decrease the stress on our joints and help strengthen our back and core muscles, backstroke has been shown to result in back pain relief more so than any other stroke.

If you’re experiencing lower back pain while swimming, stop kicking, and try pulling. In swimming, pulling refers to dragging one’s legs behind them as their arms pull them across the pool. This position elongates your body and stretches the muscles in your lower back while eliminating the pain occasionally felt from kicking your feet.

Swimming is a high-quality, low-impact way to strengthen core muscles without putting stress on your back. It has the potential to be a life-long sport and can help with recovery while building muscle. But in order to prevent further injury, it is important to learn the proper techniques and, of course, to be cleared by your doctor before committing to any long-term swimming regime.