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Accelerate Injury Rehab by Swimming

March 31st, 2023

Swimming is an ideal workout if you’ve suffered an injury that prevents you from maintaining your regular exercise routine. But have you considered how swimming and other water-based exercises can support active rehab? With foam belts and life jackets, you don’t have to be a skilled lap swimmer to reap the benefits of exercising in water. Here’s an overview of some of the therapeutic effects of water-based exercise.

Benefits of Water

Whether you’re recovering from an injury or not, you can benefit in many ways from water-based activities. Water has been shown to: 

  • Minimize weight pressure. If you’re recovering from an injury or new to working out, non-weight-bearing exercises are advisable for reducing stress. Your buoyancy in water allows you to try different positions and find ways of moving that minimize pressure on your injured or vulnerable areas.
  • Provide natural resistance. Water provides natural resistance that helps you build muscle strength. This resistance lets you move your body without sudden, jarring motions that could exacerbate injuries. Water also has a compression effect, helping to reduce or minimize swelling while you exercise.
  • Raise the heart rate. Whether you’re injured or not, swimming is an excellent cardio workout. If you have an injury, it’s the perfect way to maintain your cardiovascular fitness until you can resume higher-impact activities. Because it works all your body’s muscle groups, this aerobic activity also helps you build muscle tone and strength. 
  • Support mental health. Swimming has positive effects on mood. Researchers have observed improved quality of life in older adults who swim. Water-based activities have also been shown to help families of children with developmental disabilities build a greater sense of connection.

Studies comparing the effects of water-based and land-based exercise have revealed that many people prefer to exercise in water. As you likely already know, swimming is just plain fun. 

What Conditions Does Swimming Help?

If you’ve suffered a sprain, strain or tear, water therapy is highly recommended as a component of active rehab. Swimming and walking in the water can help accelerate healing and rehabilitation after a ligament, muscle or tendon injury. A Kinesiologist or sports therapist can help you devise an exercise program that works for you.   

In addition to helping you recover from an injury, swimming and other water-based activities have been shown to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with many different conditions, including:

  • Arthritis. For people with arthritis, swimming can improve joint movement without increasing pain. Hydrotherapy – exercising in warm water – has been shown to improve the health of people with rheumatoid arthritis. People with osteoarthritis have experienced improved joint movement and reduced pain when they engage in water-based exercise.
  • Back pain. If you suffer from back pain, swimming helps build strength and tone in your back muscles. The smooth, consistent strokes you make while swimming can counter the daily movements and postures contributing to your back pain. You build tone and strength with minimal impact when you swim, regardless of your skill level.
  • Fibromyalgia. Water-based activities may ease your discomfort and improve your quality of life if you have fibromyalgia. A study of women with fibromyalgia revealed that exercise in warm water resulted in a decrease in pain levels, as well as reduced depression. Participants also reported increased interest in socializing.
  • Menopause. For post-menopausal women, swimming helps maintain bone health and muscle tone. It can also help reduce blood pressure and lymphatic function by reducing vascular stiffness caused by a decrease in estrogen.

Whether you’re ready to dive into the deep end or just want to get your feet wet, there’s a water-based exercise for you. Ask a professional specializing in injury rehabilitation to recommend an activity that suits your needs.

Physiotherapy and Kinesiology in North Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey

If you are experiencing discomfort, you don’t have to grin and bear it. From physio, kinesiology and active rehab to chiropractor, the right practitioner can help you find strategies to manage or even eliminate your pain. At Legacies Health Centre, you can find all these services under one roof, plus personal training and more. Contact us today to book an appointment at one of our four locations in North Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey.

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