PreparationWherever the swimming therapy will take place, it is vital that the individual feels comfortable at the location, in the water, knows how to swim as this puts an individual at ease, not worrying about their surroundings and able to focus completely on their therapy/rehab. If an individual is not a confident swimmer, the therapy can be done in shallow water or a rehabilitation pool and if cleared with a doctor taking swimming lessons with back pain in mind could be part of a therapy program. Once confident in the water warm-up in the shallow end or do some walking/cycling before actual swimming.
Therapeutic StrokesStrokes for the therapeutic workout will be determined by the doctor, specialist, chiropractor, therapist, etc. These strokes are recommended to protect the spine while keeping pain at bay. Although individual cases are completely unique, and a doctor/therapist could recommend other strokes, the safest strokes found for back pain are the freestyle and the backstroke. Strokes like the butterfly or breaststroke cause a natural extension/arch in the low back, which can be quite painful. So a patient does not have to lift their heads, which could cause them to arch their backs as well, could benefit using a center snorkel.
Regimen Frequency, LengthLike all forms of exercise, especially when dealing with back pain moderation is the way to go avoiding repetitive/overuse injuries. Soreness after the workout that goes away within a few hours is normal. But if the soreness lasts to the next day, this could the body warning the patient they are doing too much. For swimming, therapists usually recommend three days a week 20 to 30-minute workout. With activity response being used as a guide to progress or decrease the intensity or volume of the exercise. A gradual increase in activity until the patient reaches a workout regimen that fits:
- Condition level
- Physical ability
ConsiderationsWhen swimming or performing any exercise/s the benefits are completely dependent on the individual and back condition. It is difficult to determine how well therapeutic swimming will work, as every individual and the condition/s they are dealing with are different. Individuals with arthritis or spinal stenosis have been shown to do well using hydrotherapy because of decreased spinal compression. Each patient might have to make certain adjustments based on their condition and the doctor’s, chiropractor, specialist’s treatment plan. For example, someone with cervical spine arthritis or stenosis could have a difficult time lifting their head to breathe. In this case, they could be instructed to swim using only the backstroke or using a customized stroke so they don’t have to lift the head. Every patient needs to try and see what works for their specific condition. What works for one patient, may not work for another. Find out if swimming could be a treatment option for your back condition. With this in mind, finding a form of aqua/swimming exercise that suits you can be achieved.
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