Underwater Exercises to Strengthen Your Back, a guest post
When you got out of bed this morning, if your first thought was, “Oh, my aching back!” instead of, “Time to make the coffee!” chances are good you are among the millions of people who suffer daily from back pain. Whether you overdid it on the golf course, put a bit too much warrior in your weekend, or have a chronic condition like osteoarthritis, your back is killing you—and you have had enough.
Fortunately, relief from your back pain can often be found in the closest swimming pool. As Spine Health notes, water therapy exercises can be tailored to each person’s health and abilities, and unlike land-based workouts that can jar the bones and joints, exercising in the pool is much gentler on a sore back. Underwater exercise can be especially useful for people with osteoarthritis, torn or strained back muscles, or advanced osteoporosis.
If back pain is driving you crazy, drive yourself to the nearest pool and give the following exercises a try:
To do this exercise, GolfLink advises standing up straight in neck-deep water. Raise the left leg out and hold it to the side for a count of five to 10. Bring your leg back to the bottom of the pool and cross it over your right foot. Repeat the leg raise 10 times and then switch to your right leg.
Running in Place
While your back might not be up to pounding the pavement for a jog around the neighborhood, you can strengthen your back muscles by running in place in the water. To do this effectively, you need to wear a belt that will hold you up in the pool. For example, the AquaJogger Water Fitness Belt transforms any pool into a walking and running track. The buoyancy belt will safely suspend you in deep water, allowing you to run in place in the water without any risk of scraping your tootsies across the pool bottom.
Another helpful underwater exercise is called the invisible chair. Stand in waist deep water and rest your back against the side of the pool. Slowly squat down so that your body looks like it’s sitting down in a chair. As you hold this position, pretend you are on a power walk and pump your arms briskly in the water—try to do this 50 times. After a short rest, repeat the exercise.
Swimming is a very effective way to strengthen the back muscles; the only caveat is that you don’t want to select a stroke that will cause the body to twist in an uncomfortable way. For example, this is not the time to make like a Border collie and dog paddle, as this will raise your head above the water and strain your neck and back. Instead, many people with sore backs have found that the crawl is an effective way to alleviate pain; start by doing around 10 laps at a slow and steady pace and, over time, increase your speed and length of time in the pool.
If your local gym or community center offers water aerobics classes, consider giving one a try. Advantage Physiotherapy notes that when a group of people with chronic lower back pain worked out in a 90-degree pool five days a week, they saw an improvement in pain and mobility. The hour-long workout included 15 minutes of warm up stretches and exercises, 40 minutes of aquatic exercise, and a five-minute cool down period.