Pool Exercises for Back Pain
The sun is out, school days are numbered, and the pool water is finally warming up. While many people see the pool as a good place to cool off on a hot day, your backyard pool can also be a great therapy tool for joint or muscle pain. While regular exercises can exacerbate injuries or chronic pain with the pounding your joints take, the pool is the perfect place to ease aching muscles and get your heart rate up without added stress on your body. Water therapy is especially beneficial for those with osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and other muscular or skeletal conditions.
Work with your chiropractor to discuss what exercises will be most beneficial for you. You’ll be surprised what you can do in the water that would normally be risky—or impossible—outside the water.
The power of the pool
There are many benefits to exercising in the water, and each benefit works in coordination with the rest. First, the buoyancy of the water helps support you and offsets the effects of gravity, which means less pressure on your muscles and joints. The weightlessness you feel also helps increase your range of motion in joints that are difficult to move. Water also provides natural resistance, which helps build muscles through gentle conditioning. The combination of these properties allows you to slowly build muscle around your spine and core, while taking pressure off your spine at the same time. It’s easy to see how helpful this is if you have back problems.
Pools with warm water help relax muscles, too, and naturally warm and prepare your muscles for exercises. Warm water also relaxes you emotionally, and provides an inviting place to help you keep your exercise routine.
Exercises in the pool
There are endless water exercises that your chiropractor can tailor to you. When doing exercises, make sure the water isn’t too deep so you don’t struggle. One easy exercise for beginners is called the knee-to-chest, and can be performed while holding onto the wall of the pool behind you. Stand on one leg (slightly bent), and stretch your other leg out in front of you into the interior of the pool. This stretches the muscles in your leg and lower back. To continue strengthening those same muscles, slowly lift the extended leg up and then lower it again, touching your toe to the bottom of the pool before slowly bringing it back up. Another popular stretching exercise is known as the “Superman.” Face and hold onto the edge of the pool with both hands, and let your legs float straight out behind you. This stretches all your muscles from your neck to your legs.
For a cardiovascular water exercise, walk back and forth several times across the pool. This increases your heart rate while building muscles in your core and legs. You don’t even feel how hard you’re working thanks to the resistance of the water. You can add hand weights or floats to increase resistance and build more muscle.
Combining water and non-water therapy
Once you feel confident enough to move out of water-only workouts, talk to your chiropractor about combining land and water-based exercises to speed healing and build more muscle. Starting in the water to warm up helps joints, and allows your muscles to gently prepare for higher intensity exercises. One popular water warm-up is performed on your back in a floating position. Whether free-floating or supporting yourself with the side of the pool, gently paddle your arms and your legs. This helps to raise your heart rate and get your muscles working. Once you’re warmed up and out pf the pool, yoga poses and abdominal exercises on the pool deck are great ways to increase flexibility and strengthen the muscles surrounding your spine.
If you see how these exercises could be helpful for you, contact your chiropractor for a personal consultation on what exercises will be most beneficial.