Swimming With A Bad Back – Is It Good For You?
We’re about to get close to ice cool today! Even with this being such a hot topic of discussion for the past 15 years, there will be no more room for assuming after we’re finished.
Swimming is a hot topic because so many people with and without back pain don’t have a single hint about what it really means to “swim” But is that supposed to be a strange phenomenon?
No, not exactly, and I’ll tell you why. There are three different types of people:
- Casual swimmers
Let’s do an experiment with theses three types of personas, and at the end of the three I will explain the results of each incident.
But before, since this article will serve to show you the ways not to swim(with a couple swimming exercises to do right), and so much more valuable information you can’t see elsewhere; you can skip on over to the best ways to exercise in the water here.
Assume that we threw a strong swimmer like Michael Phelps into the water with a bad back, and 1 condition, he has to try his best. Standing inside the water, legs in a clinched position, hands on the inside pool wall, waiting for the sound of the buzzer to go off. BOOM, in less than a mill-second, he’s off, doing the 100-meter butterfly like he always does with ease. 25 meters in, he’s feeling fine, what pain?
Not a second later, after his 40th stroke, he feels a pull in his lower back.
The Casual Swimmer:
This is where most of us average people fall into place, we sure like to imitate a professional swimmer, but It usually 9 times out of 10 doesn’t go our way. Let’s say that you avoided seeing your doctor, and you just wanted to take the afternoon with your friends to hit the waves of your local ocean. It’s a nice hot sunny day, why not right?
So as you are staring at this monstrous amount of water in front of you, you lay right in with every ounce of guts you have. You’re likely to be swimming at this point to get yourself acclimated to the water. Your head is just barely poking out the water, but that’s OK, you’re a great swimmer.
We all have that friend or family member(maybe its you), who doesn’t know how to swim, or is just a novice swimmer. He/she doesn’t want to feel left out, so they take to the dreaded waters of the pool, and hangs out in the 2ft area. Second later, you see them hugging and walking across the border of the perimeter, and signaling, “hey look at me!”
Why did I leave you with a start, a middle, and no end? Because I want you to finish that story for me. Answer me this question, and keep that each one already has a bad back… Who will get hurt?
Did you say all of them? Awesome! You’re right on track, but if you didn’t there’s no need to worry. The mistake each one of these swimmers made was to go into the water with not being educated on how to swim properly. Yes, that’s right, there is a difference between swimming and doing water related exercises.
Let’s get back to our star-studded Olympic medalist(I always forget how many times) Michael Phelps for a moment. His mistakes step-by-step were as followed:
- Went into the water
- Had a fast start
- Was doing the breaststroke
- Training Hard
The butterfly and especially the breaststroke place a huge amount of strain on the lumbar spine, not to mention that all that water rushing to the back is pounding on each vertebra, disc, spinal cord, and facet joints. In fact, these swimming exercises add so much pressure to the facet joints, it’s already known as butterfly back syndrome, seriously!
What about the speed and range of motions? The amount of power it takes to generate the speed of a proper breaststroke all depends on the mobility of you lower back. Throw in the:
… And you really see all the mechanics that go into each stroke. Specifically more so in the butterfly stroke than the breaststroke, this is where your pelvis can push out into an anterior pelvic tilt position(forward locked), and that’s because you’re putting your lower back in repetitive flexion and extension of your trunk.
This will cause your facet joints in your vertebrae to compress very tightly, and the result will be muscles spams, and continuous pain. Also, the thing is, you don’t have to be a very good swimmer to cause a painful infliction, you could be someone who is very competitive and likes to make their workouts as high impact as possible.
The Casual Swimmer:
What about the every day casual swimmer that just wanted to get out for an afternoon swim at the ocean? CALLA BUNGA!
Uh, it’s not quite the time for excitement. Here are where this person got it wrong:
- Decided to swim in the ocean
- Didn’t protect their back against the outdoor conditions
There’s a right way, and there’s a wrong way to go about getting your swimming in with a bad back, and this person had it completely upside down. The chances of this working out were very slim, and that’s a large in part of the type of environment he/she’s up against.
Whether there were waves or not, the mater of the fact is that ocean water is never settling. It comes and goes, and you really feel the pressure up against your upper torso/chest, and from the back end to your upper and lower back. One movement of water, before they even took a stroke would have been enough to worsen their pain.
Sorry Mom, I love you but I can’t help myself to think how not so well of a swimmer you are. We all have this person, or are this person. You wouldn’t think they would be at risk, or that they would be of less risk than the other two above, but that’s not true.
Someone who doesn’t know how to swim is much likelier to worsen their pain come time to paddle, then someone who knows how. Why?
Awkward motions. If I couldn’t swim, what would it look like if I tried? My arms would likely be flailing left to right, forward, and backwards, My legs wouldn’t be kicking out correctly, not to mention my head is barely sticking out. This will cause your body to do twist and turns just to adjust, and in the process cause tons of damage to your:
- Spinal disc
- facet joints
All the pressure at one point will fall on your lower back to raise you back up.
How To Correct The Results?
What’s this guy trying to do, tell me I can’t swim with a bad back ever? I’m telling you the opposite. Swimming is a great exercise for anyone who has a bad back, or as I like to refer to, as a chronic lower back pain.
Just because you can’t do your favorite swim moves impersonations, or if you’re an athlete who has a long list of back problems, doesn’t mean you should shy away from the “blue lagoons”.
In fact, many people take to the waters to improve their mobility, movements, posture, and soften the pressure on their lower back pain. I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that they can’t bare to stand up, walk, or move around.
The one thing I tell them is to get into an even lower-impact activity. As opposed to walking on land, swimming creates a greater cushion around your joints, allows for your synovial fluids to move around in ease, and takes all the pressure off your lumbar spine.
Exercises To Give An HONEST Go
Ofcourse with the bad comes the good, and these are a couple of the insanely easy to do water exercises:
I am not asking that you turn into a water soldier, but as the name states, this will take some marching from you.
How to do:
- Walk yourself into a pool
- Gingerly walk around the perimeter of the pool
- Walking around twice will work best
- Make sure to keep your posture as straight as you can
#2 Knee to Chest
It’s parent land brother “knee to chest” will be the same concept in the water.
How to do:
- Walk into the pool(if you haven’t done so already)
- This can be done in the middle or edge of the pool for better stability
- Raise your knee with or without your hand(the buoyancy of the water can help)
- Do this for at least 3 times.
- Switch knees and repeat
So these are only a couple of the many swimming exercises you can do right this very day, but if you’d like to see all the water exercises, go here.
The Different Types Of Swimming Environments
Where are you? What does your environment look and feel like? I want you to take a look at your surroundings and future [;aces you will be in. The reason I want you to do this is because it’s as highly important to not do the wrong exercises, do the right exercises, as much as it is to pick the place you’ll be swimming in.
Think about the example I used earlier with the ocean.
This body of water source is:
- A force to be reckoned with
- can get bumpy-many waves
- very cold
- no perimeter support
- water can splash everywhere-in your eyes
These are just many of the encounters you’ll find if you take your water exercises to there. Other environments that you can find yourself in:
- indoor pool
- gym pool
The question is, are they all good? Well, that can be based on multiple factors. Like for example. In a river, there will be many fish, rocks, sloped mudslides for you to do an appropriate exercise, let alone maintain balance. It’s not impossible, it’s just a clutter, and there are a much of variables that are masked below the water for your safety
So you can see where I’m going with this. I can take any example above and give you a clear picture, but ultimately, you want to stick to pools as much as possible.
…And here’s why:
- Perimeter support
- People are more aware of the area
- Levels of Ft
- Waters usually calm
- you can schedule a workout with your local gym
… And so much more!
It’s Conclusive, Not All Swimming Is Bad For Your Back
This is a matter of inches, you can fall farther back, or you can spring and splash into action with water exercises. All it takes is a couple of the wrong exercises to cause your bad back to worsen, and develop into a chronic lower back pain if it hasn’t already.
Being aware and educated on the type of swimmer you are will help you understand how to protect your joints, what it is you are doing wrong, and what you can do to fix it the next time you hit the water.
We learned a couple of the best water exercises for your bad back, and that you can utilize these very well in a pool. And lastly, we took an extended look at the different bodies of water, and environments you might find yourself in.
The Remove Back Pain System
Now that we’ve learned what swimming and back pain have going on together, it’s time to take your efforts into the water with these exercises here.