Depending on the type and severity of your back pain, it may be one of the only advisable activities for maintaining fitness without causing further stress to your spine. Swimming is a low-impact, aerobic exercise that tones the entire body without causing stress to the spinal joints. Therefore, we often recommend swimming as a primary exercise for our patients with back pain conditions that are looking to improve spinal range of motion and reduce pain.
There is no one stroke that is advisable for all back pain sufferers. It is important to check in with a spinal health care specialist to determine what your back can handle. We then advise you work with a swimming coach (in particular a stroke technician), to help you perfect the stroke and minimize the risk for aggravating your injury.
Freestyle and backstroke are the most common strokes but they require a rotation of the upper body that can cause repetitive stress in the lower back; butterfly and breaststroke require an arching of the lower spine in order to propel you upward and forward. Depending on what kind of injury you have, any or all of these strokes may exacerbate your pain and should therefore be avoided.
In this case, you can still benefit from water-based exercise in the form of pool therapy; essentially this refers to an exercise program that leverages the natural resistance and buoyancy of water. If you are interested in getting wet to improve your spinal fitness, please don't hesitate to contact our office in Milpitas. We are standing by to help you find the right way to start exercising despite your back pain.