For many suffering from arthritis, the idea of jumping into the pool and swimming some butterfly laps probably doesn’t sound appealing. That much repetitive motion can’t be good for joint pain and inflammation, can it? Not necessarily. But for those looking to get back to swimming, or who just want new and effective exercises for arthritis, there are a number of water-based exercises that can benefit the joints while also burning a few calories.
Swimming is much more low-impact on joints than jogging or even walking, as the impact on joints is much less than on solid land. Your doctor may recommend certain strokes or water-based activities for your specific situation, but here we’ll take a look at a few of the best swimming exercises for arthritis.
Water Walking for Arthritis
Water Walking is one of the easiest ways for those with arthritis to put the local rec center or backyard pool to use. This one is also easy to learn – you already know it! Simply take your walking routine into the pool. While walking in the pool obviously requires more switchbacks, the benefits are more than worth getting turned around for. The simple act of walking in a pool helps joint pain these ways:
- The buoyancy of the water reduces the impact on joints.
- According to arthritis.org, pools between 82 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit can actually help to reduce arthritic pain.
- Water walking eliminates factors typically involved with walking for arthritis such as sweating profusely, and typically ensures a smooth and flat surface. Additionally, due to the resistance of the water, walking in the pool burns more calories than normal walking.
Front Crawl for Arthritis
If you’re ready to step it up a notch, swimming laps is a great way to exercise all of the body’s joints. It is important to find a method that isn’t straining or painful, such as the Front Crawl. This stroke is good for rheumatoid arthritis, as it stretches and exercises the entire body.
- Start slow. One or two laps is plenty to begin with. As you build strength and get more comfortable in the water, gradually increase the number of laps.
- We recommend taking a lesson. Or, at the very least, studying the stroke via video if you aren’t familiar with it. Doing it right is important! Plus, it will help you feel better during the exercise as well as progress quicker to doing more laps.
Water Aerobics for Arthritis
Many rec centers and swimming facilities offer water aerobics classes, which we highly recommend. Typically done in chest-high water with engaging music playing in the background, aerobic activities are great exercise and really stretch the joints in positive ways.
This may sound a bit intimidating, what with the public class setting and all. But many of those who sign up for water aerobics classes seek a similar outlet as yourself – a moderate exercise that works the joints and is also fun. These classes are low pressure and often serve as a great way to meet new friends!
Backstroke for Arthritis
The backstroke stretches and strengthens the back while doing the same for the arms. If you have arthritis in the elbows or ankles, this can be an effective light exercise. Again, we encourage you to start small by only doing a couple laps. As your comfort level increases, add another lap or two. And be sure to learn the basics of the stroke before getting into the pool.
How to start swimming for arthritis and what to avoid
Generally, it is important to ensure that any exercises you take part in are not going to put unnecessary pressure on affected joints. The breaststroke is typically not advised, for instance, because of the high amount of exertion on the knee joints.
It is also important to avoid swimming without stretching first. Exercising without warming up increases the risk of injury. Additionally, swimming may not be for everyone. Be sure to follow any advice given by your doctor in regards to your specific situation.
Many rec centers and swimming facilities offer set hours for open swim, lap swimming, and classes. Check with your local facility to see what days and times will work best for you.
Swimming for arthritis, swimming for health
We all want to feel good. Arthritis can be frustrating, especially when we aren’t sure what to do to reduce the pain and stay healthy. When exercise is painful, who wants to do it, right? Fortunately, there are ways for many to give their joints and muscles a good workout without having to deal with extreme pain during and after the exercise. Swimming for arthritis patients is a simple part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
When combined with other best practices such as a healthy diet, New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel Oil supplement like GLX3, and anything else recommended by your doctor, you too can find ways to make arthritis more manageable and less of a burden.