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Is Swimming Good for Spondylolisthesis?

The condition that arises when one spinal vertebra moves out of its original position and falls on the vertebrae under it is called Spondylolisthesis.(1) It is severely painful and restricts movement if left unattended. Hence, you must see your doctor immediately when you notice the symptoms and know about the different types of spondylolisthesis treatment that you can access.

Normally, the treatment for spondylolisthesis will start in traditional ways to ease the strain on the supressed nerve that is causing you the pain, without undergoing the surgical procedure for the spine. The conservative methods that are commonly used for the treatment are:

  • Pain killers
  • Weight loss
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Stretching
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Swim therapy
  • Physical therapy.

If you take a look at the list of alternatives for traditional spondylolisthesis treatment, you might be surprised to discover swimming as a therapy suggested by the doctor. So the question stands, is swimming really good for spondylolisthesis.

Is Swimming Good for Spondylolisthesis?

Is Swimming Good For Spondylolisthesis?

Swimming is actually a very good therapy for many orthopedic conditions including spondylolisthesis.(2) The treatment includes strolling and other work outs using water-weight, which eases the strain on the spine while at the same time making the muscles of the surrounding areas strong. Due to the buoyancy of water, the spine automatically stretches, when you remain in it. The action pulls the weight off from the slipped disc at the back and soothes the strain on the pinched nerve causing reduction in the pain, for the timing.

As a treatment of spondylolisthesis, swimming fortifies the core muscles and helps in weight reduction as well. This eventually brings down the weight on the spine. Strictly avoid exercises like too much twisting, and just put your endeavor into the water work outs that your doctor has suggested.

Many patients find swimming and other traditional methods of the treatment of spondylolisthesis commendable because the methods tend to relieve the pain. Nevertheless, if you are not benefited with the treatments even after several months, you must contact a spine doctor so as to find out the ways to get relief from the discomfort.

Swimming is a superb method to fortify your back and neck and it helps to reduce strains related with spondylosis also. In Spondylosis, the delicate tissues in the spine deteriorate with time, making the muscles in the spine debilitate, thereby forcing the spinal disc to lose their capacity to protect the vertebrae. Additionally it forces the joints to decay continuously. Accordingly, the nerve pressure and other inconveniences influence the daily life. Swimming can strengthen your neck, back, leg and shoulder muscles. This collectively decreases the pressure on your spine.

Swimming With Spondylolisthesis: Follow The Tips

Swimming is an incredible exercise to battle with the spondylolisthesis and manage the pain related to it. However, there are a couple of things you must remember to stop intensifying your condition. Following the below tips will be beneficial:

  • Avoid over exercising, because it will add up to muscle strain leading to more pain.
  • Prevent yourself from bending back and use a mask so that you do not need to lift your head up.
  • If swimming is hurting your back, stop and begin with water therapy or Aichi.
  • Stretch your muscles so that it loosens up and are not strained when you begin swimming.

Apart from swimming, some moderate treatment techniques can be applied to reduce the discomforts of spondylolisthesis, which include pain killers, corticosteroid infusions, other less-strenuous work outs, reducing weight, stretching exercise etc. Your spine doctor will identify your condition and decide the best treatment plan to improve your situation.

Sometimes, swimming and other nonsurgical treatment plans are sufficient to reduce the side effects of spondylolisthesis. Nevertheless, if, even after following all these for quite a few weeks or months you have not benefited, you might need to choose invasive spine surgery. Choose an experienced surgeon before you go for surgery.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 1, 2019

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