Is Swimming Good For Back Pain? [Science Finally Reveals]

Ah, back pain! It seems like it’s everyone’s greatest foe. According to studies, about 60-90% of the adult population are suffering from this ailment. If you are among the countless individuals searching for an effective way to relieve back pain, you may want to try swimming. 

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the topic and explore why swimming is good for back pain and the specific benefits of this aquatic exercise. Additionally, we’ll explore specific swimming strokes that can help alleviate back pain and those that you might want to avoid.

1. Benefits Of Swimming For Back Pain

Back pain is a common ailment affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. It can be caused by various factors, including poor posture, muscle imbalances, injury, or underlying medical conditions. 

But how is swimming good for back pain? Swimming is often recommended as a therapeutic exercise because of the following benefits:

Low-Impact Exercise

Swimming is renowned for being a low-impact exercise, making it a suitable choice for individuals with back pain. The buoyancy of the water supports your body, reducing strain on the spine and joints and allowing you to exercise without exacerbating discomfort.

Improves Muscle Strengthening And Flexibility

Swimming is good for lower back pain as it engages a variety of muscle groups, such as the lower back, core, and hips. Regular swimming sessions can help strengthen these muscles, providing better support for the lower back. 

Additionally, the range of motion required for various swimming strokes can enhance flexibility, reducing the risk of muscle imbalances that contribute to lower back pain.

Enhances Circulation

Swimming promotes better blood circulation throughout your body, which can help reduce inflammation and facilitate the healing of injured back tissues. This increased blood flow also delivers essential nutrients and oxygen to your muscles, aiding their recovery.

Good For Weight Management

Managing a healthy weight is essential for back pain management, as excess body weight can strain the spine. Swimming is an effective calorie-burning exercise that can help you manage your weight, thus alleviating some of the pressure on your back.

2. Types Of Back Pain Swimming Can Help Alleviate

Swimming can be beneficial for alleviating various types of back pain, especially those related to muscle tension, spinal issues, and general discomfort. Here are some types of back pain that swimming can help alleviate:

Herniated Disc

Swimming can be a suitable exercise for individuals with herniated discs, as it offers a low-impact way to engage the core muscles and support the spine. The buoyancy of the water reduces the gravitational forces acting on the discs, potentially relieving pressure on the affected area.

Sciatica

Swimming can help alleviate sciatica pain by providing a gentle workout that promotes spinal decompression and improved circulation, reducing nerve irritation.

Scoliosis

Swimming can benefit individuals with scoliosis as it can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine and promote better posture, potentially alleviating some of the associated pain and discomfort. However, it is important to note that swimming cannot correct the curvature of the spine.

3. Is Swimming Good For Everyone With Back Pain?

No. While swimming can be highly beneficial for many individuals with back pain, it’s important to emphasise that one size does not fit all. 

Consulting a healthcare professional or physical therapist before starting any exercise program, particularly if you have pre-existing back pain, is vital. They can provide personalised guidance and ensure that swimming is safe and suitable for your condition.

4. Swimming Strokes For Relieving Back Pain

Certain swimming strokes can be particularly effective for relieving back pain, including:

Freestyle (Front Crawl)

Freestyle is a popular swimming stroke that engages the core, lower back, and hip muscles. Its continuous, rhythmic motion can help strengthen these areas and improve stability, making it a suitable choice for those seeking lower back pain relief.

Backstroke

As the name suggests, backstroke involves swimming on your back, which can alleviate pressure on the lower back. This stroke engages the muscles in the back, shoulders, and core, providing a well-rounded workout while minimising strain on the lower back.

5. Swimming Strokes To Avoid When You Have Back Pain

Conversely, some swimming strokes may not suit individuals with back pain. These are:

Butterfly Stroke 

The undulating motion required by the butterfly stroke can strain your lower back muscles, causing discomfort. If you’re dealing with back pain, it’s advisable to steer clear of the butterfly stroke, at least until your back is in a stronger and more resilient state.

Breaststroke

While not as intense as the butterfly stroke, the breaststroke has challenges for individuals with back pain. This stroke involves a series of simultaneous motions—arm pull, leg kick, and head lift—that can strain the lower back if not executed properly. 

6. Considerations When Swimming With Back Pain

While swimming can be an effective way to address back pain, it’s essential to consider a few key points:

Focus On Proper Technique

Swimming is a great exercise, but doing it incorrectly can put extra strain on your back muscles. To prevent any injuries, it is important to use the right technique and posture during your swim sessions. Ensure you maintain the proper form while swimming to keep your back safe and healthy.

Warm-Up And Stretch

Before entering the water, perform gentle warm-up exercises and stretches to prepare your muscles for the workout. Focus on stretching the muscles in your back, shoulders, and legs to enhance flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

Use Swimming Aids

Utilise swimming aids such as kickboards or swim noodles to support your body during certain exercises. These aids can help reduce the strain on your back and allow you to focus on specific muscle groups.

Join A Swim Class

If you’re new to swimming or want to refine your technique, joining a swim class can be highly beneficial. Swim classes are led by experienced instructors who can guide proper form, offer valuable tips, and create structured workouts that cater to your fitness level.

Conclusion About Swimming For Back Pain

Swimming can be a remarkable ally in your battle against back pain. Its low-impact, muscle-strengthening, and stress-reducing qualities make it an ideal exercise choice for those seeking relief and better spinal health. 

However, to reap the full benefits and ensure your safety, it’s crucial to approach swimming with the right knowledge and guidance. If you’re ready to dive into the world of swimming, join our swimming lessons for adults!

Led by our instructors, our adult swim class can help you master the strokes, refine your technique, and provide an exciting workout to suit your unique needs. Don’t wait—book a trial class with JustSwim Singapore and discover the transformative power of swimming for your health today!

Frequently Asked Questions About Swimming For Back Pain

How Often Should I Swim To See Improvements In My Back Pain?

The frequency of swimming sessions can vary depending on your condition and fitness level. Starting with two to three sessions per week and gradually increasing as tolerated is a common approach. Consistency is key, but it’s essential to listen to your body and avoid overexertion.

Which Swimming Strokes Are Best For Relieving Back Pain?

Gentle swimming strokes like freestyle and backstroke are often recommended for back pain relief. These strokes promote good spinal alignment and engage core muscles without excessive strain. However, the choice of stroke should align with your specific condition and be guided by a professional’s advice.

Can Swimming Replace Other Forms Of Back Pain Treatment?

Swimming can complement other forms of back pain treatment, but it may not entirely replace them. Consult with your healthcare professional to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that may include swimming alongside physical therapy, medication, or specific exercises tailored to your condition.

Can Swimming Improve Posture And Prevent Future Back Pain?

Yes, swimming can help improve posture by strengthening the muscles responsible for upright positions. Developing better posture can reduce the risk of future back pain and discomfort. 

Incorporating swimming into your fitness routine with a focus on proper technique can contribute to better spinal alignment.