14 water exercises for back pain relief

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Back pain is very common, especially for people who sit or stand a lot. If you have back pain, some exercises can help alleviate the pain. And if you want easier but equally effective workouts, try water exercises for back pain. 

We have pulled together some of the most effective water workouts to help with your back pain. Ensure to follow the guides so you can get the full benefits.

Also, see our guide on the best water exercises for seniors. 

Water exercises for back pain

1. Water walking 

How to do the water walking exercise:

Stand in the pool with the water at hip level. Walk around the pool from one shallow end to another. Make forward and backward movements while swinging your arms. Do five reps. 

As your back becomes stronger, begin jogging in place. 

Side note: Keep the torso stable and spine straight as you walk.

2. Superman

This exercise will relieve your joint pain by working your hip extensors and glutes. 

You will need a noodle for this exercise.

To do the Superman, extend a noodle out in front of you and lie facedown in water while floating on your stomach. Ensure your knees and elbows are straight.
 
Hold the position for about 3–5 seconds. Do five reps.

3. Flutter kick

The flutter kick works your lower abs, hip flexors, and quads. 

To begin, sit at the edge of the pool and extend your legs as far as possible with your toes pointing forward. Then, begin to kick from your hips, making little splashes at the top of the water. Keep your knees straight as you do this. 

Hold onto the pool wall with both hands, with your belly facing downwards for a more advanced exercise. Stick your legs out into the water to extend your vertebrae and back muscles. Repeat the same kick as above while slightly bending your knees.

You can place your face in the water from time to time to rest your neck.

4. Knee stretch

Stand at the shallow end of the pool. Lift your knees simultaneously and begin marching as you raise the knees closer to your chest. March in place, slowly and steadily. Do ten reps. 

5. Knee-to-chest

To begin, step into the pool and hold onto the side of the pool with your right hand. Next, stand on your right leg with your left knee slightly bent. Next, raise your left leg to your chest position, lower it back down. Do five reps and switch sides.

6. Kickboard balance

Sit on a kickboard or swim bar and rest your legs naturally in water. Keep your spine in a straight line and engage your abdominals. 

Next, raise your arms out to the side or place them gently at the end of the kickboards. Hold for 60 seconds. Do five reps.

You can also perform the kickboard balance by kneeling on the board.

7. One leg balance

This will help you engage your core and back muscle, thus supplying strength in your lower back area.

To perform:

Stand chest-deep in water in a balanced position. Lift the right foot forward to the ground in front of you so that you’re standing only on one foot. Return to start position and continue the movement for 15 seconds. Alternate between both legs. Do five reps.

8. Noodle oblique twist

Lie chest-deep in water and place a noodle beneath your back. Hold onto the pool wall so that your belly is facing the sky. Next, keep your legs together and bend your knees slightly downward. Twist from side to side from your hip.

Continue for 10 seconds—complete three reps.

9. Bicycle kicks

Lean against the pool wall with noodle(s) strapped across your back (for stability). Bend your knees slightly backward and begin to kick by extending them forward and back. Activate your core as you kick. Do three sets of 20 reps.  

10. Dumbell punches

Stand in chest-high water with the dumbbells clenched to your hands. Punch the dumbbell in front of you and back. Do three sets of 20 reps.

11. Bleak twist

Stand in water shoulder-width apart. Hold the kickboard at both ends with one arm straight and the other bent. Alternate your arms from side to side. Continue for 15 seconds. Perform three sets.

12. Kickboard pushes

Stand in shoulder-high water. Hold the kickboard in front of you and push it back and forth. This will help to strengthen your back and core. Do three sets of 15-20 reps.

For stability, have one foot forward and the other behind.

13. Elbow-to-knee

Stand in water hip-width apart. Raise left knee and move right elbow to make contact with it. Keep your spine straight as you do this. Alternate between elbows. 

Next, raise your left knee sideways and extend your hands to reach your ankle. Alternate between ankles. Do five reps.

14. Step-up

Stand upright in water with feet hip-width apart. With the left foot on the ground, take a step up to the pool step directly above you. Return to start position. Do five reps.

Safety tips for water exercises

Listed below are some valuable exercise tips to use for your workout.

  1. Always warm up first. Doing very light exercises will better enhance your exercise performance.  
  2. Stay hydrated.
  3. Choose the right pool. The depth of the water should be comfortable for you.
  4. Consider swimming gears like goggles and water belts.
  5. Check the water temperature. The recommended temperature for water exercises is between 83-88 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Don’t move too fast. Don’t make very long strides or flexion if you aren’t comfortable with it. 

Final note

To get the best out of these exercises, work out in a heated pool; it will better help to relax your aching nerves and enhance spine mobility. Also, remember to take it slowly; rest in between training if you have to, and exercise three times a week.