Swimming and back pain, benefits and risks


You probably know it, but I love swimming! I have been practicing since the age of 6 at a fairly high level. For several years I have been practicing open water swimming for 5km most of the time! Today I continue to swim regularly and try to surpass myself with SwimRun! All that to say thatswimming is a sport with many benefits and how happy I am to tell you about it today!

The benefits of swimming for the back

Back pain is usually not serious. This is why many specialists recommend the asymmetric swimming with specific exercises and stretches to work on the back. Thus, it is relieved – because it is a sport in discharge – but also strengthened: because many muscles of the back work to make us move forward in the water.

In many cases of low back pain, scoliosis, osteoarthritis or a herniated disc, swimming is extremely beneficial.

Swimming, a complete physical activity

Swimming will strain your back and the abdominal strap: these are the main muscles of the trunk. They allow you to stand up straight and have a best position for the back. But that’s not all ! Shoulders, thighs or even buttocks, with swimming all the muscles of the body are called upon.

Pro swimmers also have harmonious physique due to the entire solicitation of the body.

Swimming evacuates stress and negative emotions

Sport in general allows you to evacuate your emotions, and in particular to turn mental fatigue into physical fatigue. Swimming has a particularly relaxing effect on the mind. Concretely, back pain, whether in the bottom, top or middle, is often muscular in nature. Strong and / or repeated negative emotions will trigger or increase these painful sensations.

Concentrating on your breathing and your movements allows you to enter into a kind of meditation, which will evacuate the emotions, relax the body and the mind.

So the fact of swimming, and particularly in the crawl by alternating the breaths every 3-5-7-9 arm movements for example: can have a very positive impact on our psychic feeling at the end of the session.

Relieve your back with swimming

Pain relief back pain while swimming

When we swim, we greatly reduces tension on the spine. Being in the water makes us work almost in zero gravity which reduces the load and the weight of the body on the back.

Unlike many other sports, swimming is practiced horizontally, which allows our spine to be hyperextended. So your intervertebral discs are relieved thanks to this well extended position and you gain more flexibility.

To learn to swim better

swimming program

To put an end to back pain

Anti back pain program

Swimming to prevent future back problems

Non-activity is the worst that can be offered to our backs. By combining this with our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, our back is less strained, therefore more fragile to small accidents in life such as a back strain. This is why, doing one or two swimming sessions makes it possible to reduce the risk of having back pain.

Why ? Quite simply because:

  • The back is muscled and therefore more resistant
  • Muscle tensions due to emotions are evacuated
  • Water allows for hyperextension of the spine
  • Swimming uses the entire back which improves overall flexibility

What swim should I do to relieve myself?

Depending on your pain, the sports doctor or a specialist will recommend different strokes to relieve you and work your back in a certain way.

Herniated disc: favor the backstroke

Back crawl example for low back pain, kidney circumference, herniated disc

In the case of a herniated disc, the backstroke is to be given priority in front of all the other strokes. We will avoid sudden rotations and keep a good hyperextension position to reduce the tension of the intervertebral discs. In addition, the position is comfortable and the spine has good alignment.

If you don’t know how to swim your back well: opt for mini fins. They will help you to have the pelvis and shoulders more flush with the water, and the passage of the arms will be easier.

Above all, do not practice back kicking half seated with a plank in front of your arms. You don’t put pressure on your back in this position at all, it’s counterproductive.

Kicks on the back (with or without fins) should be done with the board held with arms extended above the head.

Osteoarthritis: depends on the type of pain

Note that the regular physical practice of sport really helps fight against osteoarthritis and not just that of the back. The tension and pressure is reduced in the water which relieves the joints. If you have cervical or lumbar spondylosis, we will not favor the same movements. If we take the case of the neck, twisting the neck during a crawl to breathe can be painful.

In this case: equip yourself with a frontal snorkel, to continue swimming the front crawl but without having to move your head to the sides.

Listen to your body and especially to the doctor who will advise you according to your pain and osteoarthritis you have.

Low back pain, sciatica and lower back pain: test the front crawl or back crawl

With lower back pain (often low back pain), the front crawl can be interesting if you don’t have too much pain. Otherwise we favor the backstroke. Let me explain: during a single crawl, a slight twist is done to breathe but for many, it is not painful. But if not, it is better to have the straight column without rotation, so rather the backstroke. For sciatica, the backstroke is also preferred.

Once again: if you do not master these strokes well, use mini fins. They will carry you to better pass your arms.

And get help from a lifeguard. 5 to 10 swimming improvement lessons is an excellent investment.

Is swimming really safe for my back?

Swimming seems to be extremely beneficial, but beware, poorly done, it can also involve risks. In the case of back pain, breaststroke “granny” (head above water), butterfly and symmetrical strokes are not recommended.

These positions promote the curvature of the lower back (lordosis), the upper back (kyphosis), and force the elevation of the head out of the water and can also impact the neck.

Treat yourself and relax your muscles

muscle relaxation and anti-stress swimming benefits

The goal is to relieve yourself, so no need to do a lap or performance right away like professional swimmers. You have to feel good in the water. We start slowly, warm up and do a few lengths. If swimming can help you lose weight, the important thing for the moment is your back, so your well-being is a priority.

Generally, the back pain goes away on its own. And it’s only after that you can try to surpass yourself! This is also why I created my swimming program, to learn the right postures and to have ideas for various workouts.

Because at the end of the day, the concern at the pool is that you can quickly get bored doing a series of lengths, always the same.

So by varying the exercises, the swims, the rhythms: you will get the most out of your swimming sessions.

Finally, I am going to summarize a little the main main axes of the article via questions that I can see pass on social networks or on the private facebook group.



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