Healthpointe Medical Southern California

Back Strains When Swimming

Professional swimmers can attest that swimming can both be a boon and a bane for individuals with back pain issues. On one hand, swimming is one of the best ways to keep physically active even when injured because it does not put excess strain on the body; the water takes off the pressure, so to speak. On the other hand, swimming can also result in back injuries such as in the case of frontward strokes.

The trick then is to maximize the benefits of swimming as an exercise and to minimize its risks by adopting the appropriate form.

Use Natural and Graceful Movements

The entire back area can be injured when swimming especially when the muscles are hyper-extended (i.e., over-stretched) such as when doing the forward strokes in breaststroke. This is also true when repetitive jerking movements of the head eventually results in injury to the neck.

It is then important to use natural and graceful movements instead of sudden, awkward and unnatural movements that put unnecessary strain on the muscles.

  • Use backstrokes and sidestrokes as often as possible because these exert lesser stress on the back in comparison with forward strokes.
  • Roll your body and avoid jerking your head when taking a breath during frontward strokes. These movements lessen the strain on the neck, thus, minimizing the risks for injuries.
  • Use a snorkel to lessen awkward neck movements when taking breaths. Use a mask or goggles to lessen jerky movements when getting water out of your eyes. Use flotation devices so that you can maintain proper swimming form.

 Adopt Specific Movements for Each Style

Each style of swimming has its own set of appropriate form including techniques that minimize the risks of injuries while maximizing the speed through the water.

  • Backstroke

Ease into the stroke instead of overdoing it. Keep in mind, too, that the muscles in your neck will become easily fatigued and, hence, at higher risk for injuries when you have not properly warmed up for it. A stiff neck will be the least of your worries otherwise.

  • Freestyle

Many don’ts are in place for the freestyle stroke, which you are well-advised to heed as much as possible. First, don’t rotate your head too much when coming up for air. Second, don’t let your head move up too much when taking breaths. Third, don’t point your head upwards when swimming (i.e., point your head downwards when you are not taking breaths). The bottom line: Avoid rolling your head and neck too much to lessen the risk of injuries to these parts.

  • Breaststroke

Keep your neck and head as still as possible. Just gently raise your head and back when taking breaths.

Flipturns are another tricky movement to perform in relation to your back. Just be sure to tuck in your head instead of extending outward from your body.

But there will be cases when your back becomes injured from swimming. In this case, your best course of action is to see your doctor for appropriate medical attention. You can call 888-719-8448 because you may be required to take medications, undergo physical therapy, and take it easy while your body heals from the injury.  Visit any of our locations such as the Colton Office near Rialto, Bloomington, San Bernardino, Loma Linda, Highgrove, and Grand Terrace.

About Healthpointe:

Healthpointe is a leading multidisciplinary healthcare organization offering a full range of medical services in practice locations throughout Southern California (Los Angeles county, Orange county, San Bernardino county and Riverside county). Healthpointe has locations situated in over 10 cities in Southern California including Anaheim, which is conveniently located near Whittier, La Habra, Norwalk, La Mirada, Cerritos, Buena Park and Santa Fe Springs. As a highly regarded musculoskeletal group, we have a personal investment in the highest level of service, and we are proud of our record of excellence over the last four decades with private patients, injured workers, urgent care, personal injuries, and professional and non-professional athletes. Leading our organization is a dynamic team of healthcare professionals who continually strive to be at the forefront of medical innovation and healthcare service delivery. For more information, a complete list of services, and Healthpointe locations, visit



About Brandon Davila

Hello! This is Brandon Davila, the Content Manager of Healthpointe. I’m a lifelong learner and chronic book-reader with a strong passion for the healthcare industry and search engine optimization. For more of Brandon, check out his articles on the Healthpointe blog.

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