Hello, everyone! This is Dr. Bob Salamon with Lowcountry Chiropractic. As always, I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy! In my last post, we discussed back pain and some of the best exercises that can provide relief. Today, we’ll be talking about water and how it benefits the joints, as well as some water exercises that you can do to relieve, or even prevent, back pain! Summer is right around the corner, and with this beautiful weather, many of us will be heading out to the pool. We all love to lounge around and splash in the pool, but did you know that it can have benefits for your back and joints as well? Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. adults are affected by joint pain or stiffness, and nearly 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain. If you’re interested in learning more about how water can be beneficial for your back, stick around! Let’s get started.
Taking a dip in the pool doesn’t just help you cool down on a brutally hot summer day– It can also help you reach your fitness goals. Many exercises performed in water are classified as water aerobics, and are a form of aerobic exercise done in waist-deep water. It is a type of resistance training. Exercising on land can be hard on the body due to gravity. This puts extra strain on the muscles and joints and tends to wear us out more easily. Water has buoyancy, also known as upthrust. This is defined as an upward force exerted by a fluid that opposes the weight of a partially or fully immersed object. In simpler terms, it is the tendency of an object, or person, to float in water.
Because of the natural buoyancy of water, we tend to feel weightless in water. This helps reduce some of the impact of exercise on our bodies by taking the pressure off of the joints, bones, and muscles. This is why water aerobics and exercise are especially great for those with achy, painful, or stiff joints, such as people suffering from conditions like arthritis. In fact, it has been “prescribed” as a treatment for people with arthritis and other disabilities for over 25 years. Additionally, water is thicker than air, which means it is more resistant. Even though our bodies feel weightless in water, our muscles have to work harder to move. This is a great way to burn calories and tone muscles. Water exercise can benefit anyone, whether or not you have a disability. You don’t even necessarily need to know how to swim– Most water exercises are done vertically, or standing up, in waist-deep water. People who rely on walkers or wheelchairs can also participate in water aerobics by standing in the water with the help of water buoyancy.
Many people who suffer from back pain and who participate in water exercise report decreased pain. Generally, it is less painful to complete exercises in water than it is on land. This is partially because of the buoyancy, and partially because the water helps increase blood supply to sore muscles and joints. Water soothes the muscles and also provides a calming feeling, taking your mind off of the pain.
Another benefit of aquatic therapy is the temperature. The weather, and temperature, can have a great effect on the joints and bones. People with conditions such as arthritis tend to complain of achy joints during colder weather. However, warmer temperatures can increase the swelling of joints, leading to pain. So exercising on land can not only put extra strain on your joints, but it can also cause the joints to swell due to overheating, especially if it is hot outside. But in water, even if the water is warm, it will keep you cool and prevent you from overheating during exercise. However, it is still important to stay hydrated– You will still sweat when working out in water!
You don’t have to sign up for a water aerobics class to reap the benefits. Water exercises can be done at home in your pool or the pool at your community center! Water aerobics does not require equipment, but you can use some if desired. Some equipment that may be beneficial for these exercises includes wrist or ankle weights, foam dumbbells, a kickboard, or resistance gloves. However, you should speak with your doctor about what exercises may be best for you. If you are not a great swimmer, consider using a floatation device, such as a buoyancy belt or floatation vest, for safety. Let’s take a look at some easy exercises that you can do without an instructor!
Walking In Water
Simply walking in water is a great and simple way to warm up and get a feel for the water. It allows you to feel the resistance. Start by walking in shallow water– Find a depth you are comfortable with, and then move up to waist-deep water. Avoid walking on your tiptoes. Instead, put pressure on your heel first, and then your toes, while keeping your arms at your sides. Begin to move your arms side to side as you walk. Be sure to stand up straight and tall! Continue walking for 5 to 10 minutes. If you want to increase the intensity, you may consider using ankle or wrist weights.
Hold onto the side or edge of the pool and kick your legs in a fluttering motion for 1 to 3 minutes. Then, switch to scissor-kicking, which means kicking your legs open and closed, for 1 to 3 minutes. Some other kicks you can try are dolphin kicks, which involve extending your legs straight back and moving them up and down in unison. This works the muscles in your legs and your core. If you want to make leg kicks more challenging, try using ankle weights!
Back Wall Glide
To perform this exercise, simply hold onto the side or edge of the pool and tuck your knees to your chest, pressing your feet against the wall. Then, push off from the wall and allow yourself to float back as far as you can. Pull your knees back up to your chest, press your feet down to the bottom of the pool, and run forward to the wall. Repeat this exercise for 5 to 10 minutes.
This exercise is best performed using foam dumbbells. Stand in water that comes up to your shoulders and hold the dumbbells at your sides. Lift your arms to the side until they are level with the water and your shoulders. Slowly lower your arms back down to your sides, and repeat for 3 sets of 8 repetitions. If you do not want to use dumbbells, you can opt for wrist weights.
These are just a few of the exercises you can perform in water to help your joints, muscles, and bones. They can also be helpful if you suffer from back pain! Remember, combining any form of exercise with chiropractic care can help further relieve and manage pain and help you achieve optimal results. Chiropractic care promotes the body’s natural ability to heal itself. I hope you found this article informative. If you or a loved one are suffering from any type of joint or back pain, you may benefit from chiropractic care. Consider reaching out to Lowcountry Chiropractic! We specialize in different chiropractic techniques, as well as both therapeutic and Swedish massage. Send us an email or give us a call and we’ll assess the situation and develop a long-term treatment plan to address your needs. We want to help you live a pain-free life– It’s what you deserve. As always, this is Dr. Bob and I have your back covered!
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