Why is Swimming Good for Chronic Pain?
Swimming is a Helpful Low-Impact Exercise
From back pain and arthritis to leg pain and fibromyalgia, millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain daily. Each case is different. Whether this pain is the result of an accident or a disease, what your pain management will look like might differ significantly from someone else.
However, in almost all cases, this chronic pain affects people’s lives in many ways. They can’t complete simple tasks as easily anymore, and life becomes less enjoyable. Naturally, people are always looking for something to help them find pain relief. While people often view swimming as a leisure activity, it has proven to be an effective way to help manage chronic pain.
Swimming is a quality low-impact exercise that improves your cardiovascular health. Even though summer has come to an end, many places (such as gyms) have indoor pools you can use. Often, these pools are warmer than outdoor pools, which also presents plenty of benefits on its own. For those living in chronic pain, swimming is a safe way to stay active and healthy, and it offers plenty of pain-relieving qualities.
Chronic pain affects people’s lives in countless ways. For some, they experience minor discomfort. For others, they miss work and can barely move around their home. No one deserves to live in pain, which is why the pain management doctors at Texas Partners Healthcare Group are here to help. Contact our Frisco pain management clinic to learn how we can help you.
Swimming is a Low-Impact Exercise.
Swimming (a form of hydrotherapy) is an excellent low-impact workout for those living in chronic pain. It offers you a chance to stay active and healthy without putting too much strain on your body.
As you go about your day, gravity is constantly putting pressure on your body, wearing away at your muscles, tendons, and bones. People often notice the wear and tear in their joints. The cartilage in their joints wears away over time, leading to joint pain and even arthritis.
Many exercises exacerbate this pressure by exerting more force on your body. When you run, your body weight crashes down on the joints in your hips, knees, and ankles. Lifting weights also puts added pressure on the muscles in your body. Most exercises affect your spine in many ways.
When you go swimming, however, the buoyancy of the water relieves the pressure and force that gravity naturally places on your body. The water supports you. Those who experience joint pain will quickly notice a reduction in pressure on their joints. But the water’s buoyancy doesn’t just help your joints. It relieves stress across your whole body, from your spine’s structure to your muscles.
With less force from gravity, your spine, joints, and muscles can easily expand, heal, and grow, relieving painful pressure.
Exercise and Chronic Pain
For those suffering from chronic pain, they often feel like resting is the best thing for them. However, while resting is a crucial part of recovery, being sedentary for too long can lead to increased pain. Too much rest causes your muscles to atrophy, which reduces the support for the skeleton. For example, the muscles that support your lower back will weaken, affecting your posture and increasing your pain.
However, did you know that exercise can help you find pain relief? Studies have shown that physical activity has more pain management benefits than cons. They also found that exercise can reduce pain sensitivity and improve your overall function.
Exercise does this by improving muscle strength, flexibility, and more, which increases musculoskeletal support. You’ll notice that your mobility will improve while inflammation reduces.
However, while running and weightlifting are great forms of exercise, they can make your pain worse by applying excess force on your body. Swimming, on the other hand, is not only an excellent way to stay healthy, but it also reduces the amount of pressure on your body.
Health Benefits of Swimming
While swimming, the buoyancy of the water provides your body with support that you cannot get in regular workouts. However, this reduction of pressure is not the only pain-relieving quality of swimming.
Swimming is a full-body exercise that engages all the major muscle groups. When you swim, you improve the strength, function, and flexibility of every muscle in your body. The stronger your muscles become, the more support they provide your body.
Swimming also provides plenty of other health benefits, such as:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Improved muscular strength and function
- Reduced fatigue
- Increase joint movement
- Removed pressure off of joints and muscles
- Increased lung capacity
- Improved balance and coordination
- Improved posture
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress
Several studies have shown the benefits of swimming for chronic pain. In a study for Spine Journal, the study examined how water exercises benefited those with chronic back pain. The study found that it improved disabilities and the person’s quality of life more so than other exercises performed outside of the water.
Often, the water you perform these exercises in is warm. Heat is a natural muscle relaxer, and warm water is often soothing. One study found that warm water, hydrostatic pressure (the pressure water places on the body), and viscosity interrupts the pain signals sent to your brain, thus providing pain relief.
Easy Underwater Exercises
Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises you can do while in the water. While swimming laps is good, not everyone enjoys doing laps. Being in the water is often an enjoyable experience, so why not find an exercise that you like?
Some easy yet helpful water exercises include:
- Walking in Water: When you submerge yourself to your chest, 80% of your body weight is taken out of the equation, reducing the pressure on your body. While walking in shallow water isn’t as intense as swimming, your muscles still have to work against the resistance of the water, which strengthens muscles (especially when you swing your arms).
- Swimming Laps: We already mentioned swimming laps, but it is an easy and popular water exercise. It engages all the major muscle groups in your body, especially your core, which is helpful for back pain. Different strokes focus on various parts of your body, from the backstroke to the freestyle stroke.
- Water Aerobics: Water aerobics helps improve your endurance while boosting muscle strength and flexibility.
- Water Treading: Usually performed in deeper water, water treading involves keeping yourself afloat by moving your arms and legs. It is a great cardiovascular exercise that also improves muscle strength.
- Pool Noodle Exercises: For some, swimming or being in the water is difficult. Pool noodles help give those swimmers some stability. For others, pool noodles exercises can act as a form of resistance training, much like weights or banded exercises.
Contact Our Frisco Pain Management Clinic
Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise that improves muscle strength, cardiovascular health, and endurance. It also reduces the pressure put on your joints and muscles. Those living with chronic pain might find that swimming is a proven way to manage and reduce their pain.
However, some conditions and injuries might require more extensive treatments. While swimming might reduce your symptoms, it might not fix the issue. That’s where our expert pain management doctors come in. At Texas Partners Healthcare Group, we will craft a unique and personalized treatment plan for you. Give us a call to learn how we can help.