Beautiful weather and warm temperatures let us spend more time outside. Whether with your family or friends, part of the joy every summer is splashing around in a swimming pool, the lake or the sea. But, if you have chronic joint pain, low-impact exercises can help alleviate some pain. Alongside regular chiropractic care, you can finally enjoy the summer as you’re supposed to.
Is Swimming Good for Back and Neck Pain?
It is common for people to experience back pain. According to an Arthritis Research UK report, 1 in 6 English people suffer from back pain. That’s an astonishing 16% of people who suffer from this condition. Most people take over-the-counter medications to treat their back pain, but you can also use alternative methods. For instance, swimming is one activity that can help relieve neck and back pain for many people.
Patients with back pain may benefit from aquatic exercises, like swimming. One study found that doing aquatic activities twice or more per week improved patients’ physical scores more than those who exercised only once a week. The program resulted in more than 90% of the patients feeling better after six months.
How does it work?
People with neck or back pain benefit from swimming because it is a low-impact exercise. Through swimming, patients with neck or lower back pain strengthen the muscles supporting their spine without putting pressure on them. Being in the water increases buoyancy and decreases spinal stress. Buoyancy provides support for your body, easing joint and spine pressure and improving your range of motion.
Swimming is gentler on the joints and spine compared to high-impact activities like running. Discuss with your doctor or physical therapist which swim strokes you should avoid or modify based on your neck or back pain if you’re considering aquatic exercises.
Top 8 Low-Impact Pool Exercises
1. Flutter kicking
You can do this exercise in a face-down position, floating straight. Start by holding on to the pool’s edge and making a scissor kick motion with straight legs to make small splashes to the water’s surface. Once you’ve finished, flip over and stretch your legs briefly.
2. Knee-to-chest exercise
The knee-to-chest exercise increases muscle strength and flexibility throughout the lower body, including the legs, hips and lower back. There is no additional equipment required for this exercise. To perform it, stand on one leg bent slightly while grasping the pool’s edge for support. Next, stretch your other leg and raise it, so your knee is at your chest level. Complete five repetitions, then repeat on the other side.
3. Walking, jogging or jumping in place
Walking: In chest-high water, walk forward and backward. Exercises like walking can be intensified by adding arm floats or light weights. This strengthens your legs without putting pressure on your knees and hips, which is helpful if you suffer from arthritis in those joints.
Jogging: Begin by lightly jogging in place. Increase the knee drive and tempo gradually until it resembles running. Jogging in water boosts cardiovascular strength, decreases pain and enhances core strength and flexibility of the hip joints.
Jumping: Begin by jumping in water that’s chest high and work your way to waist-deep water. As the water gets deeper, it will help cushion your landing, preventing back and knee injuries. Jump several times in succession.
4. Pool planks
It is necessary to use a Styrofoam noodle to perform the pool plank. Take a noodle, hold it in front of you and bend forward as if doing a plank. Keep leaning forward until you have your noodle immersed in water. Note that it is essential to keep your feet on the pool floor while doing so. Also, ensure that your elbows are pointing straight downwards. Stay in this position as long as it is comfortable for you, approximately 15-60 seconds. Three to five repetitions of this exercise are recommended.
5. Superman stretch
The back muscles aren’t always easy to target, but performing the Superman stretch makes them easier to reach. You should start by standing at the edge of the pool. Take hold of the edge with both hands shoulder-width apart and arms straightened out. Then, raise your body while straightening your legs behind you. Make sure your legs are spread apart and your back is slightly arched.
By doing this stretch, you are essentially adopting the Superman pose, with the water holding your body and legs up. Not only does this exercise stretch the regions, joints and muscles of the back, but it also targets the shoulder muscles.
6. Lap swims
A lap swimming routine can help ease back pain, but stroke technique and form are crucial. Try the breaststroke or backstroke, which are less strenuous than twisting, rotating strokes. Ensure that your head and neck align with your spine while swimming. You can also wear goggles and a snorkel to keep your face submerged.
7. Quadruped exercise
This exercise in the pool can relieve back pain and help you build stronger arms and legs. To begin, lie on your back and float. If you are having trouble doing so, wear a life jacket or have someone help you raise your trunk to make it easier for you to stabilise yourself. Next, move your arms and legs in a paddling motion. Ten to fifteen seconds is an ideal amount of time to paddle. After resting, you can repeat the process for more muscular stimulation.
8. Underwater squats
Underwater squats enhance muscle growth and strength. This routine can be practised in the shallow section of the pool. Start by standing straight up and putting your feet hip-length apart. Then, bend your knees as if you’re sitting down. Note that your knees must not extend beyond the toes while doing so.
Inhale as you squat down. Once you are standing up, exhale. Don’t forget to straighten your back while engaging your core muscles. Make 10 repetitions.
Looking for a Chiropractor in Swindon?
Alongside aquatic exercises, you can also consider getting chiropractic care for alleviating back and neck pain. If you need a chiropractic massage in Swindon, you can count on Ridgeway Health & Wellness to assist you.