Mix up your summer workout routine with swimming!

0604171421a.jpgSummer is here! If you are going to be near a lake or pool and are looking for something new to mix into your workout routine, try some water exercise.

The water can help in many different ways throughout your workout: 

  • Buoyancy reduces the stress on muscles and joints: more comfortable than land-based workouts.
  • Resistance from the water itself can aid in light strengthening.
  • Aquatic exercise can improve balance and cardiovascular fitness.

Here are just a few exercises you can try in the water:

  1. Jogging/Walking: increasing your overall speed will increase the water resistance/intensity.
  2. Single Leg Balance: Hold for up to 30 seconds at a time to challenge your balance. To increase the intensity, try slowly swinging your arms at your side against the water resistance.
  3. Wall Squat: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, keep your back flat against the wall, and slide your back down the wall of the pool into a sitting position, then stand back up. Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
  4. Kickboard Rows: Using a kickboard or pool noodle partially under the water and arms straight out in front of you, pull the board/noodle close to your chest with elbows by your side, pinch your shoulder blades together, and then return your arms straight out in front of you. Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.

Most importantly, have fun!

Note: water exercises might not be appropriate for those with the following conditions:

  • Open wounds/skin infection
  • Severe pulmonary condition
  • Severe cardiac precautions
  • Acute fever (fever about 99°F)

 

Unloading your spine for pain relief

Lumbar pain can be complex and multifaceted; therefore, not all exercises and remedies are appropriate for the lumbar pain that you experience.  Often, your body weight contributes to compression in the lumbar spine, either placing stress on the intervertebral disc or impinging on the spinal nerve roots. If you find that lying down alleviates your lumbar pain, then it is likely that your lumbar pain has a “load” component, and unloading the spine can reduce your pain and allow for inflammation reduction. There are many names for this technique; it is often called lumbar self-unloading, self-traction, self-distraction and spinal decompression, but all mean the same thing.

If you think that your back may benefit from spinal unloading, try some of the techniques outlined below. During spinal unloading, it may be difficult to notice the distraction, so it should either feel good or feel like nothing at all. If lumbar unloading worsens your pain, either during or after, you should immediately discontinue the technique and talk with your physical therapist about your symptoms.

If lumbar unloading is helpful, it may be beneficial to try various techniques and see which ones are optimal for you.

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Leaning

Stand facing a sturdy desk, table or countertop. Reverse your grip on the table and bring your body in contact with the side of the table, keeping your feet right under you. Keep your arms straight, with elbows locked, and sink your body weight down, allowing your back to relax.

 

 

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Chair Unloading

Stand between two sturdy chairs, placing your hands on the back of the chair. Keep your arms straight with elbows locked and sink your body weight down, allowing your back to relax.

 

 

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Seated Unloading

Place your hands on the side of the chair or the arm rests, push down into the chair to unload your back, but make sure to avoid lifting your buttocks off the seat. Ensure that you are allowing your lower back to relax.

 

 

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Leg Press

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Gently push against your thighs, making sure to keep your lower back relaxed.

 

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Doorway Push

Lie on the floor with your hips/waist centered in the doorway. Place a stick against the doorframe and push the stick further into the doorframe while allowing your lower back to relax.

 

 

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Hanging Unloading

Grab onto something sturdy overhead – a pull up bar or a sturdy doorframe works great. Sink your body weight down and allow your lower back to relax, thereby allowing your body weight to traction your lower back.