General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Lower back pain when swimming Rss Feed  
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2013-08-10 2:31 PM

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Subject: Lower back pain when swimming
Hi everyone,

Did a quick search on for this and didn't find anything so I thought I'd just ask.

Sometimes when I'm swimming, I get lower back aches in the water. They're never anything that forces me to stop swimming, and they go away as soon as I'm done, but obviously something's wrong. I am wondering: does this mean I've just got to strengthen my core, or is there a stroke deficiency here? Is there a certain "wrong" thing in the water that causes (slight) lower back pain.


2013-08-10 5:33 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Lower back pain when swimming
Have you noticed anything else? changed swimming form? body position?

It sounds like you're doing it right but need some training and patience. In order to get your legs up you need to engage you lower back and core muscles and that may cause some aches in the beginning. The fact that the pain is temporary and doesn't make you stop your workout seems to me that it's muscle aches that will cease as you get stronger and not something to worry about.

You may want to do some exercises on the deck to strengthen core and back, and you may also want to do some stretching (like reach your toes).

ETA: If it gets worse, either that it becomes more painful to the point that you consider cutting a workout short, or that the pain remains for a prolonged period of time, or that you suddenly feel the pain when not training, then I suggest seeing a physiotherapist, if possible with knowledge about swimming, and have a coach see you swim.

BR, Erik

Edited by erik.norgaard 2013-08-10 5:36 PM
2013-08-10 5:36 PM
in reply to: #4825896

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Subject: RE: Lower back pain when swimming
Do you do kicking sets with a kick board? That can make you arch your back and it can hurt after a while.
2013-08-10 7:18 PM
in reply to: miamiamy

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Subject: RE: Lower back pain when swimming
I do, and now that I think about it, my back usually hurts only when I have kicking sets. Should I be putting my head in the water when doing those?
2013-08-11 12:14 AM
in reply to: writingrunner

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Stairway to Seven
Subject: RE: Lower back pain when swimming
The water is capable of support your body in a neutral position when swimming, but it's easy to overcompensate and cause arching in the low back.

Kick sets are notoriuos for this. If you are going to do kick sets (I don't), do them without a kickboard and with yoru head in the water, rolling to the side to get air. Do kick sets with one arm extended and slightly rotated in a 30-60 degree position to mimic your extended swim position in the water and you can kill two birds with one stone.

Looking forward to any degree can cause this. Looking forward brings the head out of the water, and when one part comes out, some other part has to go down usually the hips. Since kicking usually brings the legs to the surface, the stress is placed on the low back. Relax the head into the water, gaze towards the bottom, not necessarliy straight down, and you'll take the curve out of your low back

Reaching too far over the surface before entering the water. This cauess the first part of your arm in the water to push down which lifts the front of the body...hips go down...see above paragraph for the rest. solution, enter the water earlier through a "mail slot" in the water to avoid pushing down on the water.

Arching the back to try and get the legs up. You'll hear this a lot that you have to use the low back to get the legs to the surface. this is just bad advice, and poor core control. Try it, feel the stress in teh low back and feel how at the same time the front of the core becomes disengaged...the ribs and pelvis move furhter away from each other, the belly sags in the middle (along with your lumbar spine). Instead tuck the pelvis towards the ribs to engage the core better, and use your gluts/hamstrings to raise the legs gently toward the surface, not the low back. If your gluts are not firing or your hip flexors are too tight...both modern society problems, you can do work out side the pool to help correct this...but don't accept that it's something you need to deal with...correct the underlying problem to help you swim more comfortably. Learn to fire the gluts and let the hip flexors open up.

2013-08-11 5:10 AM
in reply to: writingrunner

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Subject: RE: Lower back pain when swimming
Easy fix- stop doing the kick sets with the board.

I sometimes do kick sets on my back.

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