Pool Exercises For Those With Physical Ailments

By AJ Earley

The pool can provide an excellent workout for anyone, all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Whether you’re swimming laps, doing aqua aerobics, or using the water as your resistance for strength training, just about anyone can get a safe, full-body workout. The pool can provide a great workout for master athletes, but it’s especially advantageous for those who suffer from physical ailments. Here are some common conditions, and the different types of workouts you can do despite your limitations.

Back Pain

One of the most common ailments among Americans is back pain, and it can stem from many different issues. From long days on your feet to herniated discs, even old injuries flaring up, back pain is no joke. It’s very important to strengthen the core muscles without causing strain, so be sure to work with a coach or therapist knowledgeable in this area.


Arthritis is never any fun, and it can make physical activity very difficult. Pool exercises are the best answer for all types of arthritis: they provide the activity needed to maintain range of motion with minimal impact on the joints, which means less pain.

Sports or Accident Related Injuries

If you are recovering from an injury, it’s very important not to do anything to slow down the healing or make it worse. But, it’s also important to maintain a similar amount of physical activity as you had before. Exercise can be difficult when part of your body is weak or unable to function, but the water makes it so much safer. You can target certain areas while limiting movement in others, or provide very gentle strength training to healing muscles. Your pool workout will depend on the injury itself, but you can work with a knowledgable coach or therapist on gentle, targeted strengthening techniques.

Surgery Recovery

After a major surgery, you won’t be able to get in the pool until after your incision heals. But the incision isn’t usually the only thing that has to heal, and it’s often weeks or even months before you can do any heavy lifting or get back to your normal activity levels. Once it’s safe to be in the water, pool exercises or even lap swimming can help you get some of your physical activity back without hampering the healing process. I recommend practicing strokes with a kickboard.

Paralyzation/Loss of Mobility

Losing the function of part or all of your body is a tragic struggle, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Paralyzation or general loss of mobility can heal at all different rates, depending on the cause and the type, and some may never heal at all, or even get worse over time.

Whether you need the support of another person, or just the water, the pool is a perfect place to get your body moving, even the parts that can’t move on their own. It’s crucial to keep your muscles engaged so you don’t lose circulation or range of motion, and the water can be a very safe and supportive place to practice physical therapy. If you have lost any degree of mobility, I highly recommend water workouts at least a couple days a week, but you will definitely want to consult a physician or therapist for a specialized and safe exercise plan.

And as always, make sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regime.

Happy splashing!