Swimming with osteochondrosis – benefits, styles, gymnastics

Swimming treatment of osteochondrosis is a common method in the fight for the health of joints, vertebrae and connective tissue. Having a positive effect on the whole organism, this type of exercise therapy becomes the most pleasant and effective. Swimming with osteochondrosis stimulates blood circulation, strengthens muscles, blood vessels, bones, relieves stress and improves mood.

What is the use of swimming with osteochondrosis?

All types of therapeutic exercises for osteochondrosis are a prerequisite, which must be strictly observed. And if in the home or clinical mode, exercises are prescribed feasible, with a weak range of motion, then swimming, as one of the types of exercise therapy, gives more opportunities.

While in the water, the body is relaxed, does not feel external pressure and weight. Thanks to this, it is possible to expand the gymnastic complex, thereby speeding up recovery.

When swimming and performing water exercises, the spine is stretched, the lumen between the affected elements increases, the tone is removed from the surrounding muscles. Immediately achieved several tasks in the treatment of cervical, lumbar or thoracic osteochondrosis:

  • Relaxation of constrained muscles, ligaments;
  • increased space between the vertebral discs;
  • pain relief;
  • restoration of motor function;
  • normalization of blood circulation, the activity of the cardiovascular system;
  • drive to normal metabolic rates;
  • improvement of the psychoemotional state.

Thus, a patient who is engaged in swimming 2-3 times a week will be able to feel significant improvements in a month. Despite the undoubted benefit of water procedures, there are a number of contraindications in which visiting reservoirs, especially swimming pools, is undesirable, and in some cases prohibited.


The group of patients for whom exercise therapy is categorically contraindicated in the form of swimming is small. Most of the problems associated with this are temporary. Water procedures in open water bodies and basins should be postponed or completely excluded if the following factors are present:

  • Osteochondrosis in the acute stage, when all movements are given with great difficulty and the patient is shown bed rest;
  • dermatological diagnoses – affected skin on an allergic, infectious or fungal background;
  • colds accompanied by fever, cough, runny nose;
  • specific diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases – tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia;
  • mental disorders, including epilepsy, a tendency to seizures;
  • recent heart attacks, strokes.

If the patient has at least one of the listed pathologies, swimming should be postponed until complete recovery or alternative methods of exercise therapy should be selected.

Swimming styles

In order for swimming treatment of osteochondrosis to be as successful as possible, a number of recommendations should be followed. For water procedures, it is advisable to choose an indoor pool with heated water. The temperature should not be lower than 25 ° C – colder water can lead to an exacerbation of the disease. Natural reservoirs in this regard are unstable – cool currents, waves, other natural fluctuations of the water surface, make you put more effort when swimming and can provoke cramps, pinching nerves. In addition, they can not be used year-round.

Swimming style is also of great importance. For cervical osteochondrosis, breaststroke or crawl is suitable, for lumbar and thoracic – rowing movements on the back. In practice, it is better to combine all the styles, subjecting them to a small adjustment.

Ideally, each lesson lasting 1 hour should be held as follows:

  • 10-15 minutes warming up – small breathing exercises, self-massage, arm rotation, several squats will help prepare the muscles for training, improve blood circulation;
  • 15 minutes – swimming with an inflatable pillow. Put straight hands on the boat, swim 2-3 laps, working only with your feet;
  • 15 minutes – change the load, now swim only with your hands. Moderate crawl or breaststroke, without sharp jerking your head;
  • 15 minutes – engage all muscle groups in the work. Alternating breaststroke, crawl and backstroke exercises with a load on all limbs, but without holding your breath.

This is the most optimal exercise option, in which all the muscles associated with the spine work. Of course, it can vary depending on age, degree of disease, general health.


Therapeutic swimming with osteochondrosis can be replaced or combined with gymnastics. As a rule, each instructor of water exercise therapy has its own methods and set of exercises. They can differ by auxiliary means, amplitude of swings, time of approaches, etc. The standard complex includes the following elements:

  • Walking in place and in a circle – 10-15 minutes;
  • pulling the knees to the stomach – standing on the chest in the water, pull the left, then the right knee up, until it touches the body – perform 20-30 times for each leg;
  • lie down on the water, belly down, grabbing the side with your hands, move your legs as fast as possible, simulating swimming – 10 minutes;
  • standing waist-deep in water, tilt the body forward, until it comes into contact with water, while your hands should lie on your belt, elbows laid back – 5-7 minutes;
  • exercises with a gymnastic stick – are performed only under the supervision of an instructor. Grasp the stick as close to the ends as possible, raise your hands up and pull back, as far as physiology allows;
  • Squats at shallow depths – water should reach the middle of the thigh. Or focus on the chin – with a deep squat, it should be above the water. Perform 20-30 times.

The number of exercises and lead time are advisory in nature. They can be performed in an arbitrary way, reducing or increasing the load. The main thing is that after exercise therapy there should be a noticeable improvement in the general condition.

General recommendations

Swimming with osteochondrosis can be not only a therapeutic event, but bring real pleasure. It has long been proven by medicine that water procedures bring maximum positive emotions. Therefore, choosing this method of therapy should adhere to several rules:

  • Between a natural body of water (lake, sea, pond, river) and a closed pool, preference should be given to the latter. Stable water temperature, the absence of undercurrents and bacterial threats will make swimming truly effective. It should be remembered that hypothermia, additional infections can give impetus to the development of a new stage.
  • Observe the regularity of training. Visit times must be strictly fixed. Orthopedists recommend swimming 3 times a week, for 45-60 minutes. Do not leave classes even after a significant improvement. Swimming should be useful, and most importantly – a constant habit.
  • Even if swimming skills are not available and the pool is used as a gymnasium, do not use any swimming equipment other than a supporting circle or pillow.
  • The first classes should be carried out under the supervision of a physiotherapist – this will make it possible to create an optimal complex and increase the effectiveness significantly.

The rules do not limit personal freedom at all, do not affect the usual way of life. Therefore, their implementation is available to anyone with a diagnosis of osteochondrosis. Soon, you can feel not only the relief of symptoms, but also enjoy an improved figure, elasticity and suppleness of the muscles, the general emotional state.

Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologistShishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews.

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