Can you swim with a herniated disc?

For most people who have herniated discs, staying physically active is a great idea and can even promote healing. Whether you’re thinking of taking up swimming for its therapeutic benefits or you’re an avid swimmer who would like to continue enjoying this pastime in spite of your herniated disc, you’ve hit on a form of exercise that’s often recommended for people with spine conditions. However, it’s important to consult with your doctor or physical therapist to find out whether swimming is a safe and appropriate activity for your specific condition.

The benefits of swimming

If you’ve been diagnosed with a herniated disc, especially if it’s in the lumbar or lower back region of your spine, swimming can be the ideal form of low-impact aerobic exercise that experts often recommend for people experiencing back pain. The buoyancy of water helps reduce the jarring effects of movements on the spine, while the resistance that water provides can help a swimmer:

  • Build muscle strength to better support the spine
  • Improve heart health and increase blood circulation
  • Attain or maintain a healthy body weight

Potential drawbacks of swimming

For competition swimmers, there are a number of strokes that are known to put stress on the neck and/or back and may not be advisable for someone who has a herniated disc. It is also important to avoid overexertion and to stop any exercise if you experience severe or sudden pain. If you’re participating in swimming as a competitive sport, you may wish to work with a coach that’s experienced in advising swimmers who are recuperating from a herniated disc and can help you avoid further injury.

Part of a conservative treatment plan

Swimming and other low-impact forms of exercise can be valuable components of a conservative treatment plan aimed at helping you manage the symptoms of a herniated disc while your body heals. Conservative treatments have helped many people recover from a herniated disc sufficiently to resume their normal lifestyle.

However, some people pursue nonsurgical remedies for weeks or months without experiencing adequate relief. If you’re among them, you may be interested in exploring the possibility of treatment at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery helps thousands of patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain each year and provides many advantages versus traditional open neck and back surgery, including less scarring and a shorter recovery time.^

Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our outpatient surgery center and the procedures we perform for patients with herniated discs. We also offer a free MRI review* that can help determine whether you’re a potential candidate for treatment at our facility.

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