The Do’s and Don’ts of Swimming With Spine Pain

Category: Spine Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Swimming Spine Pain

Swimming is a refreshing activity that challenges muscle groups, and it can be especially helpful if normal exercise is too painful on your spine. Water’s natural buoyancy helps to alleviate stress on your spine, but that doesn’t mean you can just jump in the water, start swimming and expect your back to feel good. There are plenty of things you need to consider and be wary of when swimming to prevent or treat back pain. We cover those do’s and don’ts in today’s blog.

Swimming With Back Pain – The Do’s

If you want to start a swimming routine to prevent or treat spine pain, here are some things you’ll want to do:

  • Find a Comfortable Stroke – Different strokes put different pressure on areas of your spine. For example, the butterfly and backstroke can put extra pressure on your lower spine, while the backstroke can put more pressure on your spinal discs. If you know what your pain derives from, find a stroke that doesn’t make pain worse.
  • Consult a Coach or PT – If you’re not all that familiar with swimming form, consult a local swim coach or physical therapist. They can help ensure your form is correct so that you’re not putting undue stress on your back. They can even show you some water exercises to strengthen the area.
  • Stretch – Just like any activity, you need to ensure your muscles are ready for exercise before you jump in the water. Stretch and give your muscles some time to transition from an inactive state to an active state necessary to perform the stroke movements.
  • Pair With Land Exercise – Don’t make swimming your only form of exercise. If you want to help your spine in the water, you also have to take care of it on land. You can best do this by working to strengthen your core muscles. Find some core strengthening exercises that you can do on days when you’re not swimming to help build crucial muscle groups needed in the pool.

Swimming With Back Pain – The Don’ts

On the flip side, here are some things to avoid:

  • Overdoing It – Be careful about overdoing it, especially if you’re just getting into a swimming routine. Some exercise is great, but overdoing it can actually do more harm than good. Slowly increase your distance or speed when developing a swim routine.
  • Overextending – Another way to make back problems worse is by overextending areas of your body while swimming. Don’t have an over-exaggerated head turn when you take a breath, as this can put added pressure on your cervical spine. Also, if you get overextended when doing a flip turn at the wall, the movement can stress and strain your neck and back muscles.
  • Forget Water – Although you’re surrounded by water, don’t forget to hydrate before, during and after a swimming routine. Proper hydration ensures that spine muscle groups are working properly and getting a healthy blood supply. Take a break to get a drink during longer swim routines.

For more tips on swimming to prevent spine pain, or to talk about the best strokes for your spine condition, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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