I often hear people in my office talk about how swimming is the ideal sport, because is helps to strengthen core muscles. Swayback – excessive curvature of the lower back (lordosis) is a common cause of back pain, and is usually accompanied by poor muscle tone of the abdominal muscles, and weakened core strength. If you swim doing the breaststroke while holding your head above water, muscle strengthening is concentrated in the shoulder area, which is not helpful for addressing back pain. In addition, the spine is not held in a straight position, but is once again curved in the area of the lower back – lordosis. The best swimming style for addressing back pain is the crawl, in which the body is parallel with the surface of the water, the back is held straight, and where the rotational movements performed while breathing help to straighten the spine. However, what if the individual is does not know how to properly swim using the crawl style? Should swimming be used as a therapeutic option? Solutions can always be found, for example by learning to swim the crawl correctly by first mastering the breathing technique, with the swimmer learning to swim with their head under water.
The “flow” position is a relaxed position in which the arms are stretched above the head, the hips are pushed towards the surface of the water, and the pelvis is tilted forward. This positioning ensures a straight spine. The legs are stretched out straight behind the body. To propel yourself, push off the pool wall with your legs, while slowly exhaling under water. This exhalation automatically activates the abdominal muscles; there is no need to consciously engage them. The swimmer can join their arms by placing one hand over the top of the other and wrapping the thumb of one hand over top of the pinky of the other. This position is ideal for helping to strengthen the back muscles found in between the shoulder blades. Once you have mastered this position, add a flutter kick to propel yourself, while keeping your arms stretched above the head, and gently turn your head to the side to inhale, then return your head to a straight position under water to exhale, all while keeping the spine straight. If you have difficulty in maintaining a straight lower back, you can use a lower-back floatation belt to help you, or try putting a pad between your knees.
What else to say? Swimming is a wonderful sport and can definitely be recommended for toning muscles. The buoyancy of the water helps one to achieve the changes described above.