PDA

View Full Version : Is breast-stroke swimming bad for scoliosis?



cyprusmom
05-03-2006, 03:45 PM
My daughter has joined a group for swimming, nothing competitive but she gets a good work-out 2-3 times a week. We want her to stay as fit as possible as she very probably having surgery in the next few months. The swimming instructor said that she should avoid breast-stroke because of her scoliosis (T50, L30) and has her do backstroke and free-style instead. Just wondering if anyone knows or heard anything on that cause it doesn't make much sense to me since breast-stroke is a balanced movement where as the other two styles make the body rotate....
Thanks,
Pola

Breeze
05-03-2006, 04:04 PM
I'll be interested to hear what kind of responses you get. My daughter just had surgery about 4wks ago and is wondering if she'll be able to do any kind of swimming this summer. What did your doctor say about post surgery swimming? I will say, my daughter plays soccer and is pretty muscular. Her surgeon said the surgery took longer than expected because of the muscles in her back. I'm sure your daughter also has strong back muscles. Good luck finding answers.
Kate

pat
05-03-2006, 04:55 PM
Pola, I've never heard that one, and my daughter also was on a swim team, right up to surgery, and I agree w/Kate, her doctor said she recovered great from surgery, due to being in good physical shape. And her stroke was breaststroke . . . ?? Kate, my daughter was back in the water swimming about a month after surgery, took awhile, but we swam 3-4 times a week, for 6 months post-op. We laughed because I was finally able to beat her, but believe me that didn't last long at all; she was pretty much back to normal after a month or so. pat

Breeze
05-03-2006, 10:24 PM
Pat,
Thanks for the reply. How old was your daughter when she had surgery? How long ago, and how is she doing now?Were there any restrictions initially on what type of/or stroke of swimming she could do?
Kate

gerbo
05-04-2006, 03:14 AM
Hi Pola, things have clearly moved on since you last posted, so sorry to hear that bracing hasn't controlled her curve. Did you have your greek appointment since you last posted. Are you OK?

Re swimming; all I have heared and read suggests that swimming is good for backs, including the ones who have scoliosis. We have been swimming with Lisanna 2-3 times a week for the last year and it hasn't done her any harm.

best wishes

gerbo

AILEA
05-04-2006, 04:48 AM
Hi Pola,
I asked our "rehabilitation specialist" (donīt know the equivalent in other countries), when my daughter was diagnosticated. Your daughterīs swimming instructor is/may be right. That doctor told us that swimming could be beneficial for her back, but breast stroke and butterfly swimming are not a good option because they increase the lumbar lordosis while reduce the natural thoracic kyphosis. . Althought front and back crawl seem to rotate the trunk, they stretch the spine, and make it more flexible.
My daughter is 29L 19D, and she has lordosis too, while her kyphosic curve is rather small; so it makes sense to me, but everybody and every-scoliosis is different,
Take care
Ailea

Singer
05-04-2006, 07:39 AM
Hi Pola -- Just thought I'd chime in with my own perspective as someone with a 70-deg. curve...when I swim, I've noticed that doing the breast stroke hurts a bit, because of arching the back when you come up for air.

Snoopy
05-04-2006, 10:06 AM
Hi Pola,

You're post really has me thinking. My daughter is 17 months post-op and joined the swim team this year. We mentioned this to her doctor and he never told us she shouldn't do the butterfly or the breaststroke. He told us before surgery that swimming was great for her back and he still thnks so. Just to be safe, I sent him an e-mail after reading your post, but he is out of the country until the end of the month! I am going to contact another doctor at the hospital and see what she says.

Mary Lou

cyprusmom
05-04-2006, 12:22 PM
Great to read all the posts. I heard all my life that swimming was considered one of the best, if not the best, form of exercise one can get. I started swimming laps when in college and got hooked. Swam through pregnancies and always felt great when I kept it up. I was also diagnosed with mild scoliosis when I was my daughters' age (don't ask me degrees or anything, that was 30 years ago...) I did some physiotherapy for a few months and then forgot about it. I haven't stopped working out (on and off ofcourse) and I am a great believer in exercising for keeping sane and healthy...

So Pat, I am thrilled to hear your daughter is a swimmer and is gone back to it after surgery. Although Anastasia is not in a competitive group I see it as an 'investment' in her future for 'keeping fit' after surgery along with her dancing that I hope she will continue. Is breast-stroke still her style?

Gerbo, thanks for your interest...we went to Greece a week ago and confirmed that her T curve is now 50, up 10 degrees. So, considering all the facts we have, age, Risser, etc, etc, probably no brace can hold her from progressing. The orthotist still believes in holding out as long as we or she feels ok with her 'image'. For him fusion is only necessary for aesthetic reasons, which I am sure calls for debate....We are not rushing into surgery now but we are slowly coming to terms with it and learning more about it.

Ailea that is great information from your doc. It does make sense....Streching the spine and keeping it flexible is what our kids need and ofcourse the aerobic workout.

Mary Lou Id like to know what your doctor says. I hope she is clear for all swimming. Was your daughter swimming before surgery?
Our kids with scoliosis, braced, unbraced, pre-op, post-op are all much better off when they exercise.
Take care everyone,
Pola

gerbo
05-04-2006, 12:44 PM
That doctor told us that swimming could be beneficial for her back, but breast stroke and butterfly swimming are not a good option because they increase the lumbar lordosis while reduce the natural thoracic kyphosis. . Althought front and back crawl seem to rotate the trunk, they stretch the spine, and make it more flexible

life is so confusing, i would have argued that breaststroke is better because it strengthens muscles on either side of the back more symmetrically, whislt frontcrawl could be bad as it stimulates muscles more on one side, depending on which side you breath. Haven't they found a higher incidence of scoliosis in swimmers? Backcrawl doesn't do a lot to the backmuscles but indeed might be good in helping to keep the spine flexible. It all depends on what you think is more important, spineflexibility or balanced muscles (or both?)

gerbo

pat
05-04-2006, 12:44 PM
Kate, My daughter had her surgery 17 months ago, and it was two months before her 14th birthday. For restrictions after surgery, her doctor just told her to hold off on fly at first. He pretty much told us she would know what she could do at first and what she couldn't do. She wasn't supposed to dive right away; but, I think about 3 months after surgery, she tried (when I wasn't looking!) and it was fine, no big deal, she said.
Pola, Hello! She's pretty much a breast-stroke and free-style, she still doesn't do fly, but she really was never that great at it anyway. Her only limitation (which is why she's not so much into competitive swimming anymore) is her inability to do flip turns, fused too low (L-3). And when I say her inability, it might very well be possible, but she hasn't attempted it yet. Pat

Carmell
05-04-2006, 02:10 PM
I've also heard that because you are in the water, without gravity being a factor, swimming does not affect (good or bad) a scoliotic curve. Scoliosis is a structural/bone problem. Swimming is great for muscles/soft tissue balance and improvement. Gravity is a non-factor in swimming so I'm not sure it would be a bad thing to do, after having the surgeons blessings post-op. That goes the opposite way - swimming can not improve a scoliosis issue. It can improve muscle tone, but not structural curves.

Snoopy
05-04-2006, 04:46 PM
Our doctor is so great! I sent him an e-mail, like I said and received an e-mail telling me that he was out of the country. Well, surprise! He e-mailed me anyway and here's what he said, "Let Jamie go for it. I have no reservations." I also got a call from his nurse and she says Jamie can do whatever she wants to do, but if it hurts, don't do it.

Pola,

Jamie did swim a lot before surgery, but not competitively.

Mary Lou

javaboy
05-05-2006, 02:56 AM
i would have argued that breaststroke is better because it strengthens muscles on either side of the back more symmetrically, whislt frontcrawl could be bad as it stimulates muscles more on one side, depending on which side you breath.

I'm currently doing front crawl / freestyle as a form of physical therapy, and to help alleviate the problem you talk of, they have me swimming in a mask and snorkel, so that I don't need to turn my head and come up for air.
This is apparently quite a normal thing for someone with an injured neck to be given as a form of therapy... reportedly quite frequent with people who have hurt their necks in car accidents.

AILEA
05-05-2006, 01:12 PM
life is so confusing, i would have argued that breaststroke is better because it strengthens muscles on either side of the back more symmetrically, whislt frontcrawl could be bad as it stimulates muscles more on one side, depending on which side you breath. Haven't they found a higher incidence of scoliosis in swimmers?
Well, I only posted what the doc who treats my daughter explained us; but in fact it summarizes what several different specialist in spine and scoliosis have told us, during all this months of appointments and research.
On the other hand, some of them advised my daughter to do anysport, and that the benefits of swimming over other sports are like and old legend :confused:
Iīve been trying to summarize all the information I got so I encourage my daughter to do sport, but I also ask her to avoid tennis, golf, rhytmic gymnastics(wich she loves and had been practising since 5 years old)...

Backcrawl doesn't do a lot to the backmuscles but indeed might be good in helping to keep the spine flexible. It all depends on what you think is more important, spineflexibility or balanced muscles (or both?)
While swimming(backcrawl), you stretch your back, but with butterfly or breast stroken it bends constantly. There are also a lot of muscles involved (unless when I do backcrawl, I can feel all my muscles working, even muscles I didnīt know that were there before :rolleyes: ...Iīm a little lazy )

Jer
06-15-2006, 08:45 PM
Hi! I don't post much, but I thought I'd let you have another view on the breaststoke & butterfly issue. I had my surgery back when I was 17 yrs. old (1984) and at that time I was on the school swim team. I did every stroke . . . butterfly and backstroke being my best. I was also on the drill team at the time. I found that swimming exercises and stretching (from drill team practice) helped me be in my best shape for the surgery. Now I'm 38 yrs. old and I still enjoy the aquatic exercise for my body. I think the only thing you need to keep in mind is overextersion. The strokes, when done correctly and not in sprint-timing situations are very benefitual exercise for the body. Make sure your daughter listens to her body. When she starts to feel pain in the back (or anywhere else for that matter) when doing a stroke, which ever one it may be, she needs to stop and rest of lay off doing it for a day or so. For the most part there shouldn't be any reason for her not to do those strokes. Also if she hasn't been doing it very long her muscles may be adjusting to the new movements, but if pain persists that is a matter to be addressed by her doctor.


Apart from bungee jumping, I don't think I have yet to not do a certain physical activity. Of course, I do it in moderation.

lindsay
06-17-2006, 12:24 PM
i'm a year around swimmer, swimming 5-6 days a week. well i used to. my surgery is in 2 days! but when i was swimming (im on a medical leave from the team) i was fine swimming breaststroke. im a flyer, and that killed me b/c of the pain. but breaststroke was fine. =] i can't wait to get back in the water!

cyprusmom
06-18-2006, 03:56 AM
Lindsay,
I read several of your previous posts but never knew you were on a swim team. That is definetely to your benefit as you must be in a great shape for your surgery tomorrow. Wish you the best outcome and speedy recovery.
And ofcourse to get back in the water soon...with breast stroke and all... :)
(Just wondering where did you have the pain while swimming, low back pain or up high?)
Pola

cyprusmom
06-18-2006, 04:13 AM
Jer,
you are one of the people who I love to read posts from: 'grown-ups who had surgery in their teens and are doing great'!!! I am also a great believer in 'listening to your body' when it comes to exercise. My daughter feels fine in the water I can see her trying to push herself and I know she gets a good workout. But at the same time I see how her one side is not as flexible when doing freestyle. She has to struggle breathing at the left side. She has right thoracic curve of 50degrees. She just turned 12 and we don't have a date for surgery yet but it will be some time in summer or fall. Being in great physical shape before surgrey is so beneficial as you said in your case and we are trying to keep her doing it. (she also loves to sit and watch TV ofcourse...)
Since my original posts I talked to another trainer( female who dealt with many scoli kids) at the pool and said it was fine to do breast stroke as long as there was no pain.

Jer, what were your curves when you had the surgery and how long your fusion. Thanks,
Pola

Snoopy
06-18-2006, 08:39 AM
Now that we are a few weeks into swim team practice, I thought I'd reply again. Jamie has been swimming 6 days a week and her only complaint is that she's tired. (I get tired watching swim practice, so I know all the kids are tired, so it has nothing to do with her back) Jamie has tried everything-backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle and butterfly--without pain. Like Pat's daughter, Jamie too has a long fusion, so she can't do flip turns, which does slow her down a little bit but Jamie doesn't seem to care.

Mary Lou

lindsay
06-18-2006, 03:59 PM
cyprusmom:

the pain was in my hips and lower back because that is where my curve is. and with the butterfly, which involves moving the core of your body to produce the movement, was difficult for me. it was a bummer that my prime stroke was the stroke that was causing me the most pain. but im excited to get back in the water. my doctor told me i'd be able to start on my year around team in about 4/5 months b/c of the workload that we do on my team. and around Jan. i'll be able to compete in meets again.

thanks for the support!! it means a lot to me!

cherylplinder
06-23-2006, 11:22 AM
What do the studies say about the freestyle crawl? Is it the side opposite the side you breathe on that is strengthened or the side you breathe on? Rachel breathes on the right. When I do the freestyle, breathing on the right certainly stretches the thoracic curve to the left (i.e. in the opposite direction of a right thoracic curve) but which muscles are used more, right or left? Would breathing on the right make a right thoracic curve worse?

swimmergirlsmom
01-07-2008, 02:13 AM
Cherylplinder,
Your questions got me thinking so today I made an observation while at my daughter's swim meet. All the other long distance swimmers were breathing alternating sides, where as my daughter Lauren only breaths on the right. So I did some more research and found some interesting results.

This coach says that if you breath only to your right, you are building up your left lat (back) muscles.
http://www.trifuel.com/triathlon/swim/bilateral-breathing-should-you-breathe-to-both-sides-000114.php
So for someone with scoliosis tendencies, could the spine be curving to the right because it is compensating for larger left back muscles in the thoracic area?

This coach says:
"in every hour of swimming, you'll roll to your breathing side about 1,000 times, meaning all your muscles pull more in that direction and less to the other side."
That means my daughter is rolling to one side over 2,000 times a day at swim practice!

http://www.active.com/story.cfm?STORY_ID=13214&RESET=0&CHECKSSO=1

So Cheryl, my question is like yours... does that coach mean if you are pulling your muscles more to the right, you're pulling your spine to the right? Or does it mean the opposite?

Sorry I didn't answer your question. I just provided more reading material related to the subject!!! ;-)

I doubt that this alone can be a major secondary cause to increasing the curve, but if it is doing anything bad, I surely will want to encourage my daughter to breath alternating sides while swimming!

If anyone has thoughts on this, please share.

Thanks
Jackie
(daughter age 14, diagnosed with Scoliosis Dec 2007, curves 48-T, 35-L)

rita.jones56
04-22-2008, 02:20 PM
I didn't think any kind of swimming would be bad for it. I still think swimming is the best exercise in general, even if the breast stroke is off limits.