Swimming as Therapeutic Exercise

Swimming: a great recreational exercise for anyone!

As far back as I can remember, the pool and water have always been a great source of exercise and fun recreational activity for me, especially in the summertime.

Whether you swim competitively, for fun, or maybe have never swum before, there are plenty of benefits for everyone. Maybe you find yourself not being able to take part in activities such as walking, running, or biking due to pain. Did you know that swimming and water therapy can be a great therapeutic exercise even if you experiencing pain? If you are looking for a low-impact exercise in a controlled environment, swimming might just be the exercise for you.

One of the major benefits of being in the water is buoyancy. Buoyancy decreases the amount of weight-bearing and thus less stress is placed on your joints. This is a great benefit for patients suffering from arthritis but can also be beneficial for patients suffering from a fracture or after a joint replacement surgery. Decreasing the amount of stress on the joint allows for more pain-free exercise and ease for getting back to weight-bearing activities.

Water is also an excellent source of resistance. The natural resistance of the water allows for strengthening without the need for additional weights. Combining the buoyancy effect and resistance allows someone to safely strengthen while decreasing joint stress which is hard to reproduce on dry land.

The natural pressure of the water also has therapeutic effects to help decrease swelling and improve your overall proprioception (awareness of your body in space). This greatly benefits patients who have had any sprains or strains to ligaments and muscles or maybe even a torn ligament (example: ACL injury).

Water temperature can also have major benefits to help relax muscles and increase blood flow/ circulation to injured areas. If you suffer from muscle spasms, low back pain, or even fibromyalgia, water therapy in warmer temperatures would be of great benefit to you.

Aquatic therapy isn’t for everyone, if you do not know how to swim, have certain cardiac conditions, are recently recovering from surgery (have an incision or open wound), or possible infection, the pool may not be right for you at this time. In either case, it is always a good idea to talk to your primary care provider or physical therapist to see if aquatic therapy could be added to your workout routine.

So, if you are looking for a new hobby, dealing with an increase in pain from land activities (walking, biking, running) maybe it is time to give the pool a try.

If nothing else, you will feel refreshed and maybe a little less stressed which we could all use these days.

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