Swimming can be a great activity for sufferers of back pain. It's low-impact and provides a solid workout. However – just like in any other sport – inexperience, overuse or improper form can lead to injury. Here are some tips to save you from that discomfort:
Avoid strokes that can cause injury
When it comes to protecting your back during a swim, certain strokes are better than others. Dr. Scott A. Rodeo, team physician for the U.S. Olympic swimming team, told the New York Times that the backstroke is ideal for avoiding back pain.
"With all other strokes, you have the potential for some spine hyperextension," Dr. Rodeo said. "With the backstroke, being on your back, you don't have as much hyperextension."
To maintain proper form in your strokes, Spine-Health.com recommends keeping your head straight. Constantly lifting your neck can strain its muscles and cause pain.
Another way you could hurt yourself swimming is by doing it too much.
One study from the International Journal of Sports Medicine explored why low back pain was becoming common in swimmers, specifically looking at adolescent elite swimmers specializing in breast and butterfly strokes. The researchers diagnosed the group of patients with spondylolysis, which is a fracture within the vertebral arch. According to the study, the patients were successfully treated after three months of less intense training.
For beginners, light swimming twice a week may be ideal. This frequency recommendation comes from a Japanese study that observed 35 adult low back pain sufferers as they completed an aquatic exercise program. While more than 90 percent of the participants reported improvement after six months in the program, those who did the aquatic exercises twice a week showed a more significant change.
If you're experiencing back pain from swimming, schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor today.