swimming rehabilitation

When you think of swimming at a pool, you probably envision a leisurely dip — or even a rigorous workout.

While water-based activities can be both of these things, they also present an excellent setting for rehabilitation and recovery following an injury. And you don’t have to be a competitive swimmer to participate. Many people — not just athletes — who have experienced an injury can benefit from this type of aquatic therapy.

The Connection Between Swimming and Rehab

There’s no doubt that pool-based rehab can be good for the body. It helps strengthen muscles and ligaments, improves your cardiovascular fitness, and serves as a safe and effective workout, all while gently supporting your body, particularly injured areas.

What makes water such a wonderful medium for rehabilitation? The key is buoyancy. Water helps keep your body afloat, but also provides resistance that will make certain movements more challenging.

Here are just a few of the benefits of swimming or other water-based rehab:

Less pressure on the body

The buoyancy of water helps support your body weight, taking the pressure off joints. This makes swimming and other water-based activities good choices for people who have suffered knee injuries, for example.

A no-weight workout

Swimming is a non-weight-bearing activity, which means that it can be a safe and comfortable exercise for people with back pain and similar issues.

Low impact exercise

Exercising in water is easier on your body than exercising on land because you have a lesser chance of falling, stumbling, or otherwise putting yourself at risk of injury. For that reason, swimming and other water activities tend to be safe options for most people.

Different strokes

Different swim strokes can work various parts of your body. The backstroke can be more comfortable for those who have a back injury because it allows you to float on your back without stressing it.

Heart-healthy training

Working out in water provides you with good exercise and helps maintain cardiovascular fitness at a time when injuries might otherwise keep you on the sidelines.

Accessible to many

Pool workouts offer a wide variety of options that your physical therapist will choose for you depending on your level of fitness and current state of health. Activities range from simple floating and walking in water, to more strenuous exercises such as water “jogging” and, of course, swimming.

For more information, visit the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services website.