Swimming is a great way to stay cool and relax during the warm, sunny days of summer. In general, swimming is a low-impact aerobic activity that can be good for your back, according to Beverly Hills spine specialists. As with any type of exercise, however, there are some precautions to keep in mind to reduce the risk of back pain when you take a dip this summer.
Learn Proper Stroke Form
Whether you’re doing the breaststroke or the crawl, swimming without paying attention to form can place unnecessary pressure on your back, especially with front strokes. Since it’s impossible to maintain a neutral position while swimming, it’s important to learn proper form to avoid back strain. Protect all parts of your spine while swimming by:
- Avoiding excessive twisting and turning
- Turning more with your body than your neck
- Utilizing more sidestrokes and backstrokes
- Using a snorkel to eliminate neck movements
Take Breaks Out of the Water
Too much swimming can hyper-extend back muscles, even if you’re sticking to proper form. On days when you’re going to be in the water most of the time, take some breaks to walk around and stretch other muscles before going for another swim to avoid over-working muscles and joints that support your spine.
Bring Some Swimming Aids with You
Prepare for a summer swim, whether it’s at a public pool, a local lake, or a backyard pool, by bringing some swimming aids to help maintain your posture. Such accessories can be especially beneficial for beginners who need some help sticking to form. Swimming aids that can help reduce back pressure include:
- Boards and other flotation devices
- Flippers or training fins
- Life preservers
If it’s been awhile since you’ve gone swimming, consider practicing at an indoor pool first to fine-tune your form. Swimming classes or lessons can also be helpful, especially if you have a history of back pain. If you do experience any sudden or lingering back pain while swimming, or even afterwards, take a break and see if it goes away on its own within 24-48 hours. Should your back pain become worse or fail to subside, check with your doctor.
Are you a swimmer living with chronic back pain? Schedule an in-person consultation with The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration in Beverly Hills. Our experienced team of orthopedic surgeons can discuss conservative and minimally invasive spine treatments and help you determine the right course of treatment for your lifestyle. Call (310) 828-7757 today.