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Start a New Hobby: Swimming for Sciatica Relief During Pregnancy

It is as if Dori from Finding Nemo was speaking to pregnant women suffering from sciatica: “Just keep swimming” is her advice in the popular cartoon movie. As an expectant mother, you need to keep going and not give up when you encounter the shooting pain or numbing sensations of sciatica; this discomfort in your lower back and legs is common and temporary, usually ending when you give birth. There are also ways to reduce the symptoms, as Dori’s words of wisdom also address. Relieve sciatic suffering by taking up a new hobby: swimming. That’s right, you could  literally jump into a swimming pool to soothe your sciatic pain. Many expectant mothers successfully use swimming for sciatica relief.

Why is Water Therapeutic?

Ever try picking someone up when you are in the pool?  Instead of it being the back-breaking work you were expecting, the task is actually easier than if you attempted the stunt on land. Water’s buoyancy (i.e. objects and people tend to float in it) lessens the effect of gravity on the body, making it easier for submerged individuals to lift things and move their bodies. With a weaker force pulling you down towards the earth, exercise in a pool is easier on the body and therefore less overwhelming, stressful,  and/or painful. A  water workout is therefore ideal for recovering athletes or individuals with medical conditions, like arthritis suffers, who are looking to easily rebuild their muscles strength without risk of muscle strain or pain. Spending more time soaking in the pool may be just the therapy women suffering from sciatica need.

How H2O Helps Wash Away Sciatic Pain

Promotes release of natural pain-killers: As with any land exercise, exercising in the water triggers the release of natural pain killers: endorphins.

Removes Pressure: Exercising in the water can relieve pressure from sciatic hot-spots: the lower back, rear, upper thighs, and even the spinal nerves themselves. Due to the water’s ability to counteract the pull of gravity, pressure is lifted from the body. To confirm this pressure-lifting effect, you may notice feelings of weightless when you in the water. This is because you only bear 50% of your weight when in the water up to your waist, with a decreasing percentage as you immerse more and more of your body. Pain relief therefore goes hand-in-hand with swimming due to the water’s buoyancy, which removes pressure from the body.

Strengthens Musculoskeletal System: Because of the water’s buoyancy having a weightlessness effect, you are able to more easily move and exercise in the water than you would on land, silently strengthening your muscles with a workout that seems less intense and tiring. In addition, water provides the body with a cushion that it does not get when it exercises on land. Supported joints and bones are strengthened with less risk of injury or pain.

How to Do A Water Workout:

There are many exercises you can do in the water that will reduce your sciatic pain. Let’s dive into them:

1. Water Walking:

Walking around the exterior of a pool is a nice mild alternative for those who still want to experience the exercise benefits of the water but are resistant to take on the more physically active options, such as swimming laps or taking a water aerobics class. Just remember to step up you pace, as you are looking for a brisk walk, not a lethargic crawl.

2. Aqua Aerobics:

To experience the workout fun of aqua aerobics, you can either sign up for a class at your local pool or be your own instructor. Water aerobics usually involves performing exercises in waist-deep water while standing, sometimes incorporating flotation devices or other objects to the routine. This option can minimize the monotony that sometimes accompanies water exercising (e.g. walking in the same path, repeatedly swimming laps) as well as increase motivation, since it is performed in a social context.

 

3. Swim Laps: The most traditional approach, taking to the lanes and swimming laps is a great way to get a water workout.

Strokes to avoid in the water: The butterfly stoke, overhead crawl and breaststroke may all increase back strain, so you may want to choose other strokes when swimming.

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