While exercise is important, it’s not always easy to sufficiently stimulate your core muscle groups if you are among the estimated 100 million Americans living with some type of chronic pain. A great alternative to land-based exercise that’s easier on joints and bones is exercises that can be done in water – which has a natural buoyancy that makes movements easier. Here are four water-based exercises that could help ease your chronic pain.
1. Pool Walking
One of the simplest forms of water exercise is pool walking. Start by standing chest-high in a pool. Walk forward and then backward at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Walking, even when done in water, works many different muscles, including hamstrings, quadriceps, stomach muscles, and stabilizing muscles in the pelvis. If you prefer more of a challenge, hand weights can be carried as you walk in the pool.
2. Knee-to-Chest Stretches
Firmly hold onto the side of the pool with one hand and slightly bend one leg. Outstretch your other leg and bring your knee inward to your chest as far as what’s comfortable for you. Switch sides to complete this exercise. With this exercise, you’ll be gently working key muscles in your legs and knees while supported by water.
3. Leg Raises and Stretches
Leg raises are another simple type of water exercise designed to gently work your lower body. Hold onto the side of the pool and extend the non-supporting leg outward. Bend the knee slightly on the supporting leg as you do this and slowly lower your other leg before switching sides. Another leg exercise you can do in water is what’s termed a wall-facing leg stretch. Face the pool wall and extend your arms in a V pattern and hold onto the side of the pool. Extends your legs in the same V pattern.
Since chronic pain is often aggravated by issues with poor posture, consider including water-based exercises that work your upper chest, back, and arms while also improving your posture. This is exactly what fly-backs are designed to do. Bend your right knee and extend your left leg behind you. Lift your arms up to chest level in front of you and then extend them outward before going back to your starting position.
Before starting any type of exercise program, even one that will be done in water, check with your doctor. A chronic pain specialist can also offer some tips on exercises that will likely benefit you. If you’re new to water exercise, consider joining a class specific to your age group and abilities. Many classes take place in heated pools, which is another good thing for chronically sore joints and muscles.