Swimming and Back Pain

Swimming and Back Pain

Anyone experiencing back pain often is recommended some sort of physical exertion as opposed to surgery or medication, in particular swimming.

Swimming is a popular choice of rehabilitative exercise for those who have been injured and wish to continue with keeping themselves physically fit on account of it being a low-impact activity. However, when performed with improper form it places even more strain on your back, hyper extending the muscles in your lower back. This especially happens if you practice swimming in an untrained manner. Along with your lower back, you also risk injuring your upper spine and neck, on account of the repetitive jerking motions of the head during frontward strokes.
This is why you will require a physiotherapist to assist you during your recovery.

How can I prevent back pain while swimming?

Swimming works out the large muscles in your chest, back and legs. Overuse of these muscles through a variety of strokes leads to soreness of the entire body, along with lower back pain.

To keep your body high in the water and thus in a neutral position, use a pull buoy.
Keep your head steady and your body streamlined, and make sure you reduce the number of strokes per length. Concentrate rather on elongating your body and stretching out the muscles in your lower back.

When doing forward strokes, make sure to roll your body when taking a breath and avoid jerking your head backwards, thus reducing the strain on your neck.

Snorkels reduce the awkward movement of your neck when you adjust your head to breath, while goggles prevent you from turning your head to get water out of your eyes.

What should I keep in mind when I swim?

  • Do not rotate your head too much when taking breaths.. Rolling can easily lead to unwanted strain and damage.
  • Avoid overdoing the backstroke if you are new to swimming or haven’t done it before as it causes the muscles along the front of the neck to become fatigued.
  • When doing any flipturns, keep your head tucked in as opposed to extended outward from your body.
  • Make sure to keep your head and neck still during the breast stroke, and gently raise your head to take breaths.

What should my workout consist of?

As an individual in rehab for pain in your lower back, it is usually a good idea to try and mix up your routine by adding a bunch of different strokes to it. It should consist of the strokes that give you the most relief, while improving your overall swimming ability.
Keep in mind that you want this work out to be pain-free, so don’t force yourself to do something you absolutely cannot. Always talk to your doctor about the amount of exertion you experience.
If your pain persists, it would be advisable for you to talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about this, as ignoring the pain could only make it worse.