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Pool Exercises for bad backs?

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Old 10-19-2004, 06:18 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 35
kastenm HB User
Pool Exercises for bad backs?

I recently signed up for a heated pool therapy class at our local rehab facility. This class has people with all kinds of joint/chronic pain problems. I like being in the water--just the heated water (90 degrees) feels very relaxing. But, my point of being there is to try to get some exercise. My back has been out over a year (this time)and I've essentially been a couch potato for that entire time. I know I 've got to take it easy, but I still want to take advantage of the opportunity to do some things that will help my back. One person there said walking backwards in the water is helpful for bad backs? Anyone have any recommendations? I've searched this board for suggestions, but I'm wondering if anyone has anything new to suggest.

Thanks for your assistance. This board is a god send.


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Old 10-20-2004, 01:04 AM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Honolulu
Posts: 301
Haw'nCarl HB User
Re: Pool Exercises for bad backs?

Aloha k,

I was in aqua therapy for a couple of months, the PT will usually tailor make the session depending on many variables (type of injury, severity, age, fitness level etc, etc.) I’ll go through a typical session of mine (I was 1 ½ months post-op from a 3 level fusion when I started).

I started walking forward about 5 minutes, then backwards 3 minutes, then I side stepped the length of the pool from left to right about 5 times (about 5 steps each way, it was a small pool), I would then do about 25 squats, then I would sit down and do leg lifts (I started doing 10 lifts per leg (no weights) and graduated to 30 lifts per leg (with four pound ankle weights) after a couple of months).

Also while sitting, they gave me a mini kick board that I would place in front of me. I would place both hands on top of it; I would then push it down into the water and move it to the left and then to the right all while keeping it submerged (don’t turn your body too far to the side if you have had surgery!!!). This helps strengthen your abdominal muscles. It helps to wear ankle weights while doing this one as you have a tendency to rise out of the water while pushing the foam kick board down into the water.

They also had a current machine, I would walk forward into the current and then walk backwards away from the current, and this was great and also helped fire the core muscle group.

But, in closing, like you said, just getting into the water is relaxing. And for the finale, what I looked forward to the most was at the end of the session, they would have me put a floatation belt around my waist and I would rest my legs on another belt and I would float on my back for about ten minutes (usually more if I could get away with it), talk about relaxing…oooohhhhhhhh yeeeeeessss! I still do this as I talked the insurance company into buying me a couple of these belts and I have been in our pool and hot tub almost every night for the past eight months since my surgery. I usually spend at least an hour a night sometimes 2.

I hope this helps, good luck, and like any PT would tell you, start out slow, and if something causes you any pain, STOP!

3level laminectomy,discectomy&PLIF L3-S1 02/20/04
6cages 8screws 2rods (oh my!) w/local bone graft
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Old 10-20-2004, 02:40 AM   #3
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flyonthewall HB User
Re: Pool Exercises for bad backs?

I have a senior(cheap) membership at the Y and I go to their therapy pool a couple of times a week. I use the styrofoam noodles for resistance. And it's only 2 miles from my house. If you're in a class aren't you getting instruction?

Last edited by flyonthewall; 10-20-2004 at 02:42 AM.

Old 10-20-2004, 03:58 AM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: St Paul, Minn
Posts: 19
CasprNFelix HB User
Re: Pool Exercises for bad backs?

You didn't mention whether there was an instructor over seeing this class you are in or if you are in a general exercise class. The fact that you are asking this question makes me think the class might be a general exercise class that just happens to utilize the pool and if that be the case my advice to you is enjoy the warm water but don't do anything else. The last thing you need is to possibly do something while exercising that will worsen an existing back condition. I agree that exercise might be a good idea and certainly pool exercise would take the strain off the back but a good physical therapist is an absolute must. Good luck!!

Old 11-21-2004, 06:21 AM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2003
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flyonthewall HB User
Re: Pool Exercises for bad backs?

I've discovered barbells in the pool. It's neat to push them down in the water. I've started using the ones with four styroform discs on each.

Old 11-21-2004, 07:09 AM   #6
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 53
lorry96 HB User
Re: Pool Exercises for bad backs?

I had hydrotherapy after discectomy and was great. Had a phisio in the pool with us though who talked us through the exercises which were specifically designed for people with back problems to ensure nothing was done to make things worse.
It did really help at the time. My pool was quite cold though and did not enjoy it much. I think you should look for a specific class for back problems with an instructor who can make sure you are doing the right things in the pool.

Old 11-21-2004, 09:19 AM   #7
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flyonthewall HB User
Re: Pool Exercises for bad backs?

I have been in PT and I have discussed with my therapist what I was doing in the pool.

Old 10-20-2011, 09:49 AM   #8
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Lorain, OH USA
Posts: 21
Marinesback HB User
Re: Pool Exercises for bad backs?

Just finished up a month long run of aqua therapy and I miss it already. Unfortunately, the VA would only cover this short period and due to my financial constraints currently it's doubtful I will be able to pursue this great therapy for some time.

If anyone is in my situation I have noticed a wide range of cross-over between land and water exercises. My range of motion was much better in the heated pool than on land, however; my only option is to continue at home stuff for now. I would stress the importance of keeping to small movements. Try to keep your abdomen (stomach) muscles tight even while you walk throughout the day. Also keep your buttocks tight. The best prevention we can hope for is to strengthen the muscles that support our damaged spines. This will help with the pain to some degree and postpone the surgery hopefully or for those that had to go through surgery speed up recovery from what I have read.

I was doing many of the prior things mentioned, but also squats with the foam barbells or a foam noodle. Calf and hamstring stretches. Forward, backward, and sideways leg kicks with extremely small movements and much more. You really need to have a tailored program to your individual condition though. Plus having a PT specialist there can add to correct positioning of your body.

Something else you might want to look into is a theraband (elastic or rubber tubing). I often lay on the couch, but utilize it to stretch my hamstrings while in that position and it does relieve my pain some at times. I have a wide variety of exercises I do with those therabands from PTs. I can understand there are times when you get bed-ridden, been there myself. They always say the sooner you can be active the better. It's very easy to put on extra weight while inactive and that just adds to the back pain. Those therabands come in a variety of resistances too. One I use for stretching I sometimes double it up and basicly do flys or curls with it to help keep my upper body tight. Just saying you don't necessarily need to be weightlifting to get some exercise in. Do check with a therapist first though so you don't hurt yourself more.
Good luck and get well

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