Is Swimming Good for Back Pain? (Strokes That Relieve Pain)


We can’t deny that back pain has become a part of our urban life. People are getting this chronic back pain from an early age. Now the question arises: is swimming any good for back pain?

Swimming can substantially reduce lower back pain, “Backstroke” and “Freestyle” being the two most effective ones here. However, you have to be extra careful about which strokes you perform. For example, never try “Breaststroke” or “Butterfly” when you have back pain because they only make it worse.

What Does Physical Therapist Say?

While we are discussing a serious health issue like back pain, how can we not mention what professional therapists have to say on this matter? Most back problems occur from injuries, a lack of activity, a lack of nutrition, poor posture, and major health problems.

The back is the foundation of your upper body. If your back is not strong enough, it cannot take the load of your upper body parts. To strengthen your back, you need to perform some exercises regularly. And to prevent back pain, there is no alternative to a healthy lifestyle and maintaining good posture.

But, if you finally get introduced to back pain, then it is difficult to recover 100% from that. To ease the pain, doctors suggest complete bed rest for a while and then recommend starting exercising to strengthen the muscles and joints. Which will help to reduce the pain gradually.


Here, too much rest can cause more problems than good. Many patients find it difficult to get through trauma to perform exercises or even move while encountering the pain. In these cases, swimming can be one of the most efficient aquatic exercises. Our bodyweight feels less in the water. 

That is why it gets easier to move in the water than on land. Gentle exercises are good for chronic pain. The swimming exercise program reduces joint stress, increases blood circulation, and strengthens the core muscles if you can do it with proper technique. 

Usually, therapists suggest beginning gradually and then start increasing the intensity of swimming for back pain.

How to Prep Before Swimming

Before getting into the water, make yourself comfortable in the atmosphere. If you are a professional swimmer or have experience in swimming in different pools, then it won’t take much time to get used to the situation. 

Although with lower back pain, you shouldn’t push yourself hard to perform as before. Go slow with the process and get your body used to it at first.


To do so, you can perform body-warming exercises in the water. But if you are just introduced to this new exercise program, you shouldn’t go straight into the learning process in the beginning.

In both cases, you can do some exercise before swimming. And they are as follows:

  • Start by simply walking in the water.
  • Make sure to dive into warm water for pain relief.
  • You can do some aerobics as a warm-up exercise program like water aerobics.
  • Then swim with the strokes that you are comfortable with.

Note: Don’t try to make outrageous moves when you have back pain. You can use a flotation device for extra protection. 

For both beginners and pro swimmers, when you have back pain, observe your body properly. Identify if anything is bothering you while swimming and immediately stop doing it.

How to Get Pain Relief from Swimming

Moving or doing chores with back pain is a gut-wrenching job. People reduce their physical activity while suffering from pain. This decision leads them to even worse conditions.


Resting might be comforting at the beginning, but it will worsen the case if you keep continuing it. Physicians suggest exercising as it increases the blood flow and strengthens the back.

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of swimming for back pain relief.

  • It is a great cardiovascular exercise that improves the overall condition of your heart.
  • It increases blood flow throughout the whole body without focusing only on one or two parts at a time, like other exercises.
  • Swimming strengthens shoulder, leg, and back muscles.
  • Flexibility exercises with water support increase overall flexibility. 

People used to think that swimming can hurt your back. But the research has shown remarkable benefits of swimming in back pain.

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What Are The Best Strokes Of Swimming for Chronic Back Pain?

Swimming strokes are extremely important if you want to use swimming as a remedy for your back pain. While swimming with back pain, try to reduce as much rotation of the hip and spine as you can.

The force on your back can injure or even worsen the condition of your back. There are different levels of pain intensity that you might experience. But a wrong move can cause tremendous damage to your back.


To reduce the risk, enlist the help of a trainer and let him know your condition before starting swimming. Follow the instructions properly and act accordingly. There are a few risk-free strokes you might follow initially. The most common ones are “backstroke” and “freestyle.”

“Backstroke” and “Freestyle” are among the best swim strokes that help a lot with back pain. Besides, they will eventually strengthen your back and help in your recovery.

Which Styles Do You Need to Avoid Performing?

Although we have explained all the goodness of swimming for back pain, now it is time to enlist the “big no’s”. Swimming strokes work magically if you can pull off the method properly. 

There are a few swimming strokes that are prohibited if you have back pain. The most common styles that are harmful to back pain are breaststroke and butterfly.

Breaststroke is a complicated move that requires a lot of technicalities, including almost all parts of your body to perform. The butterfly stroke is also not an easy one to accomplish. 


“Butterfly” and “Breaststroke”, both styles need core strength and put pressure on the lower spinal column. Which might lead to a serious spine injury for those who are already suffering from lower back pain.

How Much Swimming Is Too Much?

Overdoing any exercise can never bring a good outcome. Normal, healthy people are also advised to exercise within their capacity. So, you can imagine how crucial it is to determine the exact time of swimming for a patient with low back pain. 

Our bodies act differently, and not everyone has a similar body response to treatment. That’s why it is important to know your capacity before committing to something new.  

When starting swimming after a long pause because of your back issue, start slow. Start swimming once or twice a week for 10-15 minutes in the beginning. If your body responds well, then increase the time and days accordingly.

Swimming three times a week is the most recommended by physicians. And the time could be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes per session. Do not continue if you feel any discomfort and immediately consult your doctor.


Can You Prevent Back Pain By Swimming?

Back pain prevention is the new talk of the town, as people are getting this chronic pain more often nowadays. To prevent back pain, you must pay attention to your physical health from an early age. 

The most common ways to take care of your back are to emphasize on muscle strength of your lower and upper back. Besides, you should maintain good posture and control your body weight to put less strain on your spine. 

You can achieve all these accomplishments by swimming. People who start swimming at an early age and maintain a healthy body are reported to be less affected by back pain than others. So, try swimming for all the benefits that it can cause your body.

How Common Is It for a Swimmer to Get Back Pain?

Surprisingly, the number of swimmers who suffer from back pain is not small. Generally, swimmers maintain an extreme swimming routine so that their bodies might not take the pressure well. Swimming is a great form of exercise if your strokes work accordingly. 

The vigorous motion and long working hours strain their backs and cause back pain. Besides, they perform different styles and strokes of swimming that require the utmost energy and power. 


That’s why it is important to look after your body and know your optimum limit before it collapses. And you cannot deny the necessity of great swim coaches when practicing professionally.

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Video Creator: SWIMVICE