Swimming is considered to be an excellent exercise as it is easy on your back and spine. This is because the buoyancy of the water supports your body’s weight. Hence, reducing the stress on your joints and spine and allowing for a greater range of motion.
However, since swimming is an exercise it must be done properly to avoid injury. There are many strokes and maneuvers which can make your back or neck pain even worse.
Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts while swimming if you have back pain.
1. Avoid shear forces: When you are swimming, the continuous strokes create shear forces across the structures in your lower back. This shear force can breakdown your discs and other sensitive structures in your lower back.
To avoid generating shear force, do the following:
- Wear a mask and snorkel to eradicate the need to lift your head, which leads to arching your lower back. Or you can rotate your lower back while lifting your head for a breath.
- Practice with a trainer to perfect your stroke, such as keeping your shoulders in line with your hips while swimming.
2. Focus on spine-friendly strokes: There are various positions and movements while swimming, which can worsen your spine. For example, when you perform Butterfly or Breaststroke, your lower spine arch backward. This adds stress to your spinal column, causing a problem in the long term. Similarly, you rotate your lower back a lot while doing Freestyle and backstroke.
In a nutshell, there is no safe stroke if you are suffering from back pain. Hence, you need to visit a doctor or physical therapist who will suggest your spine friendly strokes. This suggestion will depend on the cause of back pain.
3. Start with water therapy: If your still face issue in your lower back while swimming then start with water therapy. This is an exercise program where you swim in warm water. Here you get added resistance of water plus buoyancy.
As you are swimming in the warmth of the water, your tight muscles relax. This allows for an additional range of motion for a longer period without any damage to your back or neck. As this is an exercise program, you need to start with a basic gentle exercise in the pool and then progressively work on challenging exercise with time.
We understand that you might feel calm and peaceful when swimming. It might even be your preferential method of exercise. That calm, peach and ease is a universal feeling most can relate to. Even so, you must always take care of your body while swimming, especially your back. As studies have shown that back pain can become severe with time if an individual engages in frequent, improper swimming methods. So, it is best to talk to a doctor or physical therapist for a swimming guide.