Skip to content

News & Events

Is swimming good for lower back pain?

If you struggle with back pain, you’re not alone. It’s the No. 1 reason people visit a chiropractor, and one of the most common things we write about!

In the United States, more than 80% of adults have had lower back pain at some point in their life. If you’re one of them, you might be tempted to rest and avoid exercise altogether. But this isn’t always a good thing.

Too much rest can cause the muscles that support the lower back to atrophy. When these muscles weaken, they can’t stabilize the spine properly, which might actually worsen your back pain. Exercising for these muscles is essential for spinal health.

One of the best forms of exercise for back pain? Swimming.

Benefits of swimming for back pain

Studies show that aquatic exercises, including swimming, are indeed some of the most useful activities to relieve lower back pain. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Relaxes Your Nervous System: Tense muscles can sometimes be the cause of back pain, or aggravate spinal conditions, which can cause an increase in existing pain. Swimming releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones, which relax your nervous system as well as tense muscles.
  • Relieves Pressure on Joints: When you swim, much of your body is buoyant, so the water supports it. This puts much less pressure on your joints than other forms of exercise.
  • Builds Muscle to Support Spine: Exercising in water supports your joints and spine, and it also increases resistance. Swimming engages muscles that you don’t always use, particularly those needed to improve your spine’s stability.

Best swimming exercises for back pain

It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before engaging in any exercise, especially if you have injuries or chronic pain. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, here are some swimming exercises that could help relieve back pain:

  • Walking: Although technically not swimming, walking around the pool still allows you to reap benefits for your back pain. The resistance builds up your muscles, especially if you swing your arms while walking.
  • Water Aerobics: Aerobics in the water is perfect for working on the cardio aspect needed to build muscle strength. It works a variety of muscles while at the same time, building your flexibility.
  • Swimming Laps: If you’re not a swimmer, it’s essential to start slow when swimming laps, maybe only twice a week at first. You can always begin with treading water if you’re not comfortable with any particular stroke, but we’d recommend starting with freestyle or backstroke.

Other things to keep in mind

When swimming or performing any sort of exercise, remember that the benefits are completely dependent on the individual and the type of back condition.

For example, someone with arthritis or spinal stenosis might do very well in the pool because of the decreased compressive loads compared to land, while someone with cervical spine arthritis or stenosis may have a difficult time lifting their head to breathe while swimming. 

If you’re struggling with back pain and wondering if swimming could help, one of the chiropractic professionals at Keith Clinic Estramonte Chiropractic can help! Schedule an appointment by calling a Keith Clinic Estramonte Chiropractic location, or request an appointment online today.