Question: What's the Best Swimming Technique for Spinal Fusion Patients?

I was wondering what the best swimming technique would be for spinal fusion patients. I have recently seen a yellow tubing that you wrap around your waist to help keep you afloat; I was never a good swimmer anyway; just looking to swim to strengthen the back in the best manner.

I had L3-L5 titanium fusion in 1996 and still had pain for four years after. Just this year, I have been able to work with a yoga therapist, bicycle, and start swimming. I only have some stiffness and pressure. Had recent x-rays, which did not show any arthritis, bone spurs, or other nastiness.

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Doctor’s Response: The Most Important Thing is Heart Rate Elevation

Although swimming is good exercise, another option is to try walking or running in place in the water. You could also go to a water aerobics class. The important thing is to get your heart rate elevated, and in the water the joints will be unweighted and you can do more activity with less pain. Swimming in any fashion you find comfortable is otherwise also alright.

Besides aerobic activity, make sure you also stretch your hamstrings on a daily basis to keep the pressure off the lower discs.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.