As a child or even adult, did you love spending your summers being a 'mermaid' or 'merman' in a pool — hanging out, running laps or trying to perfect your handstands? What freedom it still is to inhale, float and exhale all of your troubles as you freestyle your way across the pool.
The pool (ocean, lake, pond, etc.) are truly an amazing dimension for literally everyone – the quiet of just you and the water, breathing helps to improve and create a form of relaxing meditation — the ability to let out the stress and discomfort of your back pain — the power to be successful, while forgetting your troubles for just those few shorts hours — it's just you and the water.
Swimming relaxes the brain and actually allows your mind to re-charge — you essentially reboot and become a blank canvas — ready to re-start your day and any challenges you may face while living in chronic back pain. You enter the pool frustrated — you leave reassured and relaxed.
What if we told you that swimming is not only beneficial for your overall wellbeing and entertainment purposes — but how about, the fact that it can soothe any painful back and spine conditions? Consider that proven fact.
Senior Hydrotherapist, Ori Sela, owner of Water World and inventor of the WEST swimming technique, an innovative therapeutic exercise explained, “Water is magic. The hydrostatic pressure, which is the pressure on the body, gently massages the head when we move in the water. When we concentrate and think for a long time the brain heats up."
“Try to imagine a car without a water cooling system –the car would heat up right away and the engine might explode. The water has an amazing ability to relax and cool down the head and create a sort of restart within a short period of time.”
Water exercise is a low-impact activity that not only trains but strengthens your weakened muscles and assists your spine for increased support allowing you to be more limber than when on land. Unlike exercising in a gym or at home, aqua therapy provides your body with a 'cushion' — the water — which reduces the stress on your back allowing you to move more freely, minimizing your risk of injury.
Being active in the water is beneficial at any fitness level or age. Workouts can be modified to suit various goals and conditions. It’s gentler on your body than getting your gym on at a fitness center and even allows you to do moves you may not be able to do on land while being just as effective.
Many Types of Conditions Greatly Benefit from Pool Exercise, Including:
- Chronic back pain
- Lower back pain
- Joint replacements
- Degenerative disc disease
- Neurological conditions
- Balance conditions
Aqua Therapy Asserts Numerous Advantages Including:
- An ideal environment to exercise throughout the year regardless of rain or shine
- The buoyancy of the water supports a portion of your body weight making it easier to move and improve flexibility
- Provides resistance to movements - helping to strengthen muscles
- Improve agility, balance, and cardiovascular fitness
Have you ever wondered how you can lift someone who is larger in size than you with such ease in a pool? This is not a coincidence.
The scientific concept of buoyancy. Archimedes, a Greek mathematician, engineer, inventor, and astronomer who lived over 2,000 years ago, discovered this theory.
Legend has it that Archimedes discovered a scientific concept of buoyancy while he was bathing. Interesting, right? When he hopped into the bath, he realized that the water level increased as he placed more of his body into the water filled tub. Realizing what was happening, Archimedes abruptly leaped out of the bath and literally ran naked throughout the streets, screaming “Eureka!” — a loose translation in Greek meaning “I found it.”
There's no physical proof that he actually ran naked, but it paints an amusing picture. What is known is that his discovery was a scientific breakthrough that is referred to today as the Archimedes' Principle — referring to buoyancy.
For example, a bowling ball and a beach ball that are the same size will have the same volume. The bowling ball, however, is more massive and thus denser than the beach ball. You can lift a beach ball a lot easier with little effort over a bowling ball.
So what happens if you place both the beach ball and the bowling ball into a body of water? The bowling ball sinks while the beach ball floats.
“In both cases, the water pushes up against the ball with a force equal to the weight of water it displaced. In the case of the bowling ball, it weighs more than the amount of water it displaced, so it sinks. The beach ball, however, displaces very little water and the air inside it is much lighter than the weight of the water it displaced, so it floats!” Sela explained.
While your bed or couch may be howling your name, it may be worth it to consider aqua therapy as a treatment option for your chronic back pain.
Still not convinced?
The Advantages of Water Exercise for Your Back Pain:
- You can do more. Water’s buoyancy supports up to 90 percent of your weight, places less pressure on your joints and spine. In addition, it increases your range of motion allowing you to perform a larger range of movements, such as leg lifts, and be able to do them easier in water because you don't have to fight good ole gravity.
- You’ll strengthen muscles without risk of injury. To really test your muscles in the weight room, you may pick up a too-heavy barbell. You can avoid that temptation in the pool since water provides at least 12 times greater resistance than air. Just moving will challenge your body.
- You’ll improve blood flow to your muscles. The hydrostatic pressure — pushing forces of water — helps encourage healthy blood flow to your muscles. Aquatic therapy improves your heart and lung function by allowing them to work hard against the pressure of the water.
- You’ll lessen your perception of pain. Being on the water is enjoyable and soothing. The relaxing sounds and soothing temperature may diminish the perception of pain allowing you to relax, which may inspire longer and more frequent workouts.
Now it's Time to Prepare for Your Swim:
Before initiating your aqua therapy program, always check with your physical therapist or medical team to ensure pool exercises are right for you.
“Using a snorkel while swimming, even in an indoor pool, allows you to increase your focus on the movement of your body in the water,” said Dawn McCrystal, a board-certified exercise physiologist at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Here are Tips to Help Get You Started:
- Choose the right pool. You should be able to work out in different depths, as needed. Make sure the pool has an area where you can exercise in your own lane.
- Always warm up first to prevent injury. A good warm up includes walking in the water or doing gentle, slow laps.
- Water shoes will help to provide traction on the pool floor.
- Water level can be waist or chest high.
- Use a Styrofoam noodle or floatation belt/vest to keep you afloat in deeper water.
- Slower movements in the water will provide less resistance than faster movements.
- You can use webbed water gloves, Styrofoam weights, inflated balls or kick boards for increased resistance.
- Never push your body through pain during any exercise.
- Although you will not sweat with pool exercises, it is still important to drink plenty of water.
- Protect yourself from the sun. If you are doing water exercise outside, wear waterproof sunscreen, as well as a hat and sunglasses (if possible) to protect yourself from harmful rays.
There you have it. Does this motivate you to look into other treatment methods?
Aqua therapy has already inspired a member of our BackerNation team to sign up. Are you considering it too? Or, have you already tried it? Before you dive into the pool, share your thoughts on aqua therapy in our discussions. Go shopping for the perfect suit and swim your way to back pain relief.