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Swimming and disc problem

DheyaDDheya Posts: 1
It has always been said that swimmig is good for spinal diseases. Unfortunately I've noted otherwise. Could that be due to type of swimming?
I had a desctomy surgery in March this year in Munich in L5 where the Doctor also cut a small piece of the bone. Things were all OK till after 5 months from the surgery when previous pain started to develop again. New MRI showed that same prolapsed disc developed again. Doctors told me that I have to do fusion surgery this time.
The concerned issue here is swimming. All doctors told me that swimmig is the best exercise but in my case I noted that swimming leads the increased pain. Observing the situation, it appeared that pain disappears when I stop swimming for few days. I've been swimmig 3 times a week for 300-400 m doing both types, front stroke.
I'm now family confident that the pain is due swimming but is it due the type and movements. I love my swimming and love to continue. Should I stop my swimming or change my style.
Your thoughts are highly appreciated


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Here's my opinion: you're doing the wrong kind of swimming.

    The front stroke requires you to twist your spine with every forward arm stroke. That means pain.

    I'd suggest taking a couple of hydrotherapy PT sessions to learn some good, non-twisting moves. And the idea of 'swimming' may also be where you're making a mistake. I never 'swam' in pool therapy. Instead, I was always standing in the pool, or walking in the pool, or seated on a bench practicing sit-to-stand. None of these moves requires twisting as you first have to build up your core muscles to PROTECT your spine. Only then can you start to twist in a way that will not hurt.

    Please ask for help in learning safe back-pain approved pool therapy maneuvers. If you don't want to pay for a therapist in the water with you, you can search for videos online. Please stop the front crawl. You can always go back to it once you're ready .
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • I found swimming difficult after each of my surgeries if I tried free style. Instead I forward kick with a kick board to help stop any twisting. I've just started breast stroke & am being cautious not to twist (I'm not a great swimmer), as well as back stroke. I also invested in a waterproof MP3 player off eBay for about $40 to help keep me motivated. I also walk forward, backward & side step to warm up before I swim. I went to a rehab hospital after my fusion & the physio gave me a great hydrotherapy program to follow. I think it's worth finding a pt that has some experience in hydrotherapy program's.

    Microdiscectomy L5S1 January 2014
    Microdiscectomy L5S1 March 2014
    Fusion L5S1 11th August 2014
  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 360
    I think the key term would be 'water exercise' is great for nerve and/or joint pain. My physiotherapist warned against swimming outright because of a tendency to arch the back and reach with your neck/chin, both bad for the bad discs. But he was thrilled that I was taking aquacise and said I could hardly make things worse with this type of exercise. I have the option of doing mine in the deep end of the pool (with a float belt) so I don't have to bounce off the floor at all and it has been very helpful in keeping/building muscle tone until I am ready for higher impact exercise like power walking, etc. I have not had surgery yet, but I'm striving to be in the best shape possible going into it and I cannot do much of anything out of the water.
  • RunnerHKTRRunnerHKT Posts: 231
    edited 11/08/2014 - 6:25 AM
    that swimming can actually aggravate the L5 area. (My injury is L5/S1) He said currently while it is still ruptured that I can float only or walk in the water. Before the disc herniated, I noted that my back would get a lot worse after swimming, I was swimming 3600M so I guess I was using it a lot.

    So I would avoid that kind of swimming but still get in the pool. I have not since injury because I am a wimp. I live in Florida, the pool is outdoors and it's been cold. they don't heat it until later in the year. When swimming regularly I would heat up, but walking in the pool is not really "exercise" so...I fear freezing.

    Wishing you all the best. Let us know how you do.
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