When you visualize aquatic exercise, do images of flowery-bonneted ladies bouncing around in a pool pop into your head? If they do, shame on you. The benefits of exercising in water are vast, especially for sufferers of lower back pain.
Before outlining some specific pool exercises for lower back pain relief, we should first examine why exercising submerged is often touted as better than doing so on dry land.
According to the Aquatic Exercise Association, there are several upsides to water-based fitness.
Buoyancy-your body weighing less when submerged-means your bones and joints dont bear nearly as much impact as they do when, say, youre running on a treadmill or doing jumping jacks. A body submerged up the neck, cites the AEA, and only supports about 10 percent of its entire weight.
Resistance is the key to a successful strength building program, and for people trying to use pool exercises for lower back pain, bulking muscle is important. Despite water providing more resistance than air, you almost trick your muscles into thinking that an under water workout is easier. Combined with buoyancy and the cooling effect of water, resistance is less registered by the body when its submerged.
The cooling effect, says the AEA, also contributes to the effectiveness of pool exercises for back pain, and aquatic exercising in general. It keeps the body from overheating and washes away perspiration as the program intensifies and raises the heart rate. The less hot and tired you feel, the longer you will be inclined to remain active.
So, if youre a sufferer of lower back pain or chronic back pain, youll need to know what specific pool exercises can help.
Well just look at a few basic lower body strengthening exercises that, when executed underwater, can be effective in relieving lower back pain.
â€¢ Side leg raises: Stand in the pool with your feet together. Be sure youre in shallow enough water that you can maintain your balance. Raise one leg out and to the side of your body, hold for five to 20 seconds and bring it back down. Do this on each side of the body five to fifteen times, depending on your stamina and strength. Dont overdo it; you can increase repetitions over time.
â€¢ High Knees: Start with your feet slightly apart. Raise one leg as high as you comfortably can, ideally making your thigh and the pools bottom parallel. Drop the leg, and do the same on the other side. This should resemble a slow motion, high-kneed march. Try to do fifteen reps per leg.
â€¢ The chair: Stand in shallow water, no more than mid-abdomen high. Some people can more easily do the chair against a pool wall. With feet spaced apart approximately the width of the shoulders, lower your vertical torso until it appears as if youre sitting in an imaginary chair. Hold for ten to twenty secondsâ€”or as long as your fitness level allowsâ€”and return to a standing position. Repeat five to ten times if possible.
Remember, pool exercises for lower back pain, and aquatic exercise in general, have benefits, but dont overdo it. Continuously assess your fitness level and discomfort while in the water to avoid injury.