Catherine asked ther Guru about swimming for lower back pain

April 22, 2014

Catherine asked the Guru for the following advice:

I’ve read that swimming is good for low back pain, however I am not a great swimmer and the only stroke I feel confident with is breast stroke.

I have read that this stroke is not good for lower backs. Is this true? Should I avoid swimming breast stroke?


April 22, 2014

Hi Catherine

Swimming is a bit carbon neutral – it’ll (generally) make you feel better, but won’t actually get you any better (or no more than rest will do over a long time period).

Breast stroke generally comes in at the bronze position with gold going to back stroke, silver to front crawl and butterfly off the podium.

The issue with breast stroke is 2 fold. Firstly the frog legs action causes you to stick your bum out and so compresses your back backwards (more so if you’ve got tight hips) and secondly you need to poke your head about water, forcing your neck backwards. Both of these repetitive movements can make things worse, not better.

Swimming is better than not, but don’t slog out the lengths, maybe get a centred snorkel, try to modify the stroke to side stroke and maybe use some floats when your on your back….swimming lessons?…..and get your back looked at 😉

The Guru
Six Physio

Guru Responded

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