You may just think of swimming as a way to cool off and catch some relief from the summer heat. But did you know that swimming may also be a tool to help your journey when rehabilitating an injury?
How does swimming benefit recovery?
Staying active after an injury is important. However, many things which keep our body moving —even something simple as walking or jogging—can put additional strain on the sore or injured area. It is estimated that body weight is compounded up to five times during the heel strike when
performing each these activities! This compounding does not occur to the same degree during swimming or while performing aquatic exercise. The buoyant properties of water mean that you
can safely perform movements without any significant impact at all. In addition to reducing the compressive forces on the body, the immersive properties of water can also help to reduce swelling. The pressure of this environment can move excess fluid from an injured area back into the central core of the body – which is essential for the recovery process!
Another advantage of swimming is water increases the resistance experienced while training. The great thing about this type of resistance is that it is variable. Meaning, the faster and harder you work against the water, the greater the resistance you encounter and the harder the work. So, if you’re early in rehabilitation and needing a lighter load, you can take it slow and gently move your limbs against the water. However, if you are in a phase where you are requiring increased challenge, you go as hard and as fast as you can, and the water will always return an equal resistance.
But the good things don’t stop there!
Swimming can also benefit the rehabilitation process through:
Reducing pain in the injured region
Relaxing muscles and soothing aches
Improving overall cardiovascular conditioning
Improving overall circulation
Different folks, different strokes – don’t go it alone!
While swimming or aquatic exercise is gentle on the body, some movements can aggravate certain injuries. To be certain if it’s safe for you to jump in this summer, check with your local physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist may even be able to suggest specific strokes that would be optimize recovery. For example, it may be wiser to do a breaststroke over a front crawl stroke which involves more trunk rotation. Or the backstroke may be better option if there is a concern about extension through the spine.
To learn more about how aquatic exercise or swimming may be beneficial for your health and for your injury recovery, book and appointment and chat with a local physiotherapist.