A regular exercise routine is essential to treat back pain. It helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles that connect with your back. Women who suffer from back pain should include walking and water exercise in their daily routine . Aquatic exercise uses the buoyancy of the water to take the weight off your joints. With regular practice, the exercises will increase strength in the supportive postural muscles and reduce muscular back pain.
Warm Up with Water Walking: Put on a floatation belt, the most basic aquatic exercise item. The belt will keep you from sinking if you go in the deep end. Then walk around the pool to warm up your hips and legs, and give you an aerobic workout, too. The warm up should take between 5-10 minutes.
Bicycle: Pedal your legs in the water, as if you were riding a bike. The bicycle works more hip and leg muscles than walking. Bicycle both forward and back, for 5 minutes each.
Leg Kicks: Keeping one leg straight, kick the other one up. Aim for a horizontal leg – i.e. perpendicular to your trunk. If you don’t fully get there, that’s OK. You will improve every time you try it. Kicks will build muscles in the leg and hips, which will be great for your back. Do 15-20 kicks.
Knees-to-Chest: To work your abdominal muscles (stronger abs means lesser stress on the back!) bring both knees up to your chest and down again. To do a more advanced version of this exercise, straighten your legs, and extend your body out into one long line, as though you were floating on the water. The knees-to-chest exercise should be done 10-15 times.
Legs Out and In: Bring your legs at a perpendicular angle to your trunk, while you remain upright in the water. Now spread your legs so that you form a “V”. Then bring your legs back together. Repeat 15 times. This exercise will strengthen your hips and your abs, as well. By being in a “sitting” position when you perform this exercise, you will be using your abdominals to support your trunk in an upright position.
Arm raises: Using arm paddles or webbed gloves for added resistance, hold arms at your sides. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Raise and lower elbows and arms toward the water surface, while the elbows remain bent to 90 degrees. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.
Push ups: While standing in the pool by the pool side, place arms shoulder width apart on pool edge. Press weight through your hands and raise your body up and half way out of the water, keeping elbows slightly bent. Hold 3 seconds and slowly lower back into pool. (Easier variation: Wall push up on side of pool: place hands on edge of pool shoulder width apart, bend elbows, and lean chest toward the pool wall.)
Superman stretch: With your stomach down in the water, hold on to the edge of the pool. Stretch your legs out as far as they will go. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. This exercise will form a gentle arch in your back, stretching your stomach, back, shoulder and leg muscles.
Relax after completing the exercise routine. You should feel some muscle fatigue. It is easier to reduce back pain if you move from 10 minutes to 30 or 45 minutes of exercise in small increments of approximately 5 minutes more per week.
Points to Remember:
- Always check with your physical therapist or physician to make sure pool exercises are right for you.
- Water level can be waist or chest high.
- Use a Styrofoam noodle or floatation belt/vest to keep you afloat in deeper water.
- Slower movements in the water will provide less resistance than faster movements.
- Never push your body through pain during any exercise.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Buy water shoes if you have stability or balance problems.
- Try to complete a water exercise routine 3 times per week to markedly reduce back pain in a few weeks to a month.