View Full Version : swimming-very painful?

08-31-2007, 09:56 PM
I was in to see my doctor for a three month checkup and all looked well. He encouraged me to start swimming. So, I took him up the idea of swimming only to discover how painful swimming is. After a very short swim, I was in MAJOR pain for three days. The thing is I really did not even swim, I more or less floated around.

Has anyone else had this problem or gone for swim therapy?

fused May 14, 2007 T-3 - L-4

08-31-2007, 11:27 PM
Hi Kari
I'm almost 5 weeks post op and my dr recommended aquatic therapy as well.
Although he didn't recommend swimming. He recommend that I walk in the pool. The water provides boyancy and resistance. I have been walking laps around my pool for at least 30 minutes a day and have noticed a huge improvement in my strength, posture, and energy level.
I did try to swim once out of my own curiosity and immediately realized it wasn't going to happen. Maybe the walking would be more beneficial until your pain level is down and your strength is up.
Hope this helps! :D

08-31-2007, 11:37 PM
I didn't swim but at three months post op, but I could not have done any swimming/floating. I was exhausted and in pain after standing or walking for more than an hour. Maybe you need more time to heal before trying to swim again. Some doctors expect us to bounce back so quickly after this major surgery. Feel better.


09-01-2007, 01:47 AM
I'm always amazed that we all get different information in regards to what's best for us. Who really knows, is it the the Doctors, the therapists or is it our own bodies!!! Listen to your body.

Of course, this is only my opinion, but I have found that most of the medical professionals that we encounter after our surgeries are not exactly educated with our condition. I mean no disrepect to them, it's just seems to be such a extreme surgery that not all physical therapists are educated enough to know how to deal with us.

Water therapy is a good thing as far a rebuilding our strength through walking through the water and other strenght encouraging excercises, but I just can't imagine that making us swim so soon after surgery is such a good idea.

Again, just my opinion,

09-01-2007, 07:33 AM
I just tried swimming recently & I am one year post-op & 47.... it still was hard for me but I gradually am feeling better at it...
I still mostly walk in the water for now!!! Ly :)

09-01-2007, 12:57 PM
I used to be a very competitive swimmer and now find swimming incredibly painful at 3 months post-op. :( I can't seem to get the bottom half of my body up to float. I have found walking laps in water helpful though (like others have said).


09-01-2007, 02:17 PM
Alexander's surgeon said he could start some gentle swimming @ his 3 week post-op appt. - only front or back crawl, kickboard & walking in the pool, no flip turns or playing in the water. He went in a pool about a week later & didn't like it at all. He was a great swimmer before the surgery but couldn't float well & felt cold & miserable; he stayed in less than 5 minutes. A couple of weeks later, he tried a warmer, deeper pool area & felt a little more comfortable, mostly walked around & did some swimming but didn't rush out. Less than a week later, he did the same thing. We will do it again soon but he's not enthusiastic about it yet. He finds that when his back gets achy, a long walk really helps to take away any pain. He is getting really bummed out about not being able to run around with his friends & do any active activities with them. We can't wait for school to start...

09-01-2007, 05:21 PM
I also tried aqua therapy classes at 6 months post-op and the arm movements--raising arms up and down, using foam water weights, etc. were way too much for me. I developed inflammation in my shoulder area and at the top of my rods (T5) and had to take anti-inflammatories and go to physical therapy to get it worked out.

I would recommend that after this surgery a person take it very easy and gradual, maybe doing some gentle swim stroke movements at home for a few days to find out how much you will be able to do without irritation before you go into the water and overdo. Then start out with the water walking as has been suggested and add arm movements gradually.

At one year post-op, I am still only comfortable floating on my back and taking a few back-strokes, nothing lying in a forward position.

age 48
posterior surgery 7/24/06
T5-L5 for s curves T72, L77
50% correction

09-01-2007, 06:52 PM
I agree Deb,
I felt like a thing of cement when I first went into the water & that's at a year post-op. I also could only do floating on the back, no front. I just tried sleeping on my stomach last night & had to turn over to my back. It still feels uncomfortable & strange to me.....anyone else???? :eek:

09-02-2007, 11:51 AM
Hi everyone!

Thanks for all the input regarding swimming. I was happy to hear others have had the same issues. I use to swim all the time in high school, long ago, so not being able to swim now is a bit depressing. In time, I am hoping it will get better. The healing process for this surgery sure takes time and it is hard to be patient!

The idea of walking in the water makes sense.

It is amazing how many doctors are recommending swim therapy and do not appear to realize how painful it is for post-scoli patients. I see my doctor in a few weeks, I'll be talking about this.

Thanks again!

09-02-2007, 11:54 PM
I know that my daughter's dr. did not recommend swimming after her surgery. He said she could go in the water, but no actual swimming, no movement of raising the arms over the head. She was nervous with other kids in the water and felt uncomfortable. It took two years for her to finally feel confident in the water again.
Sometimes it's hard to wait to get back to everyday tasks, but giving your body healing time will make all the difference in the future.

09-03-2007, 09:30 AM
I'm 3-1/2 months post. I'm really not interested in swimming (I have a mild water phobia :( ). My doc wants me to just walk-walk, but I'm still having trouble doing that. My legs are weak and sore from all this lying around, and my low back starts to ache fairly quickly. After my first surgery I had water therapy with a PT so I have decided to try it again. I have an Aquajogger "buoyancy belt" (helps the phobia :p ) and foam dumbbells, which I tried out last week, VERY gently doing the exercises the PT gave me way back when. It felt WONDERFUL to take the pressure off my low back. So I'm going to give it a try - in fact, I'm heading there as soon as I post this. I really feel I need to build up my strength, and this might be the thing to do it until I can walk better. I agree with earlier posts - if trying to swim is bothering you, why not try gentle water exercise first?
P.S. I believe you can find Aquajogger supplies online. Do a search.

09-03-2007, 09:42 AM
I had trouble swimming too. I felt like i was having to bow backwards to even stay horizontal. but using the foam 'weights' to just hang vertically in the water relieving all the pressure on my back felt sooooooooo good!

09-03-2007, 12:48 PM
Lynne -
Re sleeping on your stomach: After my first surgery, my docs told me to forget about sleeping on my stomach ever again. Sides, yes, back, yes, but no stomach. Too much stress on the back. Ever since then, if I have to lay on my stomach, like for a medical test, I have to have a pillow underneath and I can't stay that way for very long. They sometimes have to give me a break if the test is taking too long. It also takes me quite awhile after my surgeries before I can lie on my sides for more than a minute or two. Side sleep is my favorite position, and it irritates me that I can't do it yet.

09-03-2007, 03:18 PM

I am going on 7 months post op. It took me a while before I could lay on my side. I was able to roll the my left side but could only stay that for a little while before it would become to painful. I tried lying on my side a little bit at a time ( first time 5 mins, a week later I extended to 10) now I can sleep on my left side only, I am going to do my right side now. After lying on your side you may have hip pain when get up and walk.


09-03-2007, 05:21 PM
I go swimming almost every day to help my back. Floating can be very painful because your back is trying to move several different ways at once. It is like laying on a bed with someone jumping on the bed! Try breaststroke to start. After about a month, try freestyle. You need to strengthen your back muscles gradually or you will have a lot of pain. I aslways get out of the pool when the aerobics class is starting to come in. Rough water tends to hurt my back. Don't give up on swimming. Exercising in a pool is the best form of exercise for your back. :cool:

09-03-2007, 07:32 PM
now I don't feel so bad! before surgery I always slept on my stomach but now I find it impossible to do it. I thouhgt by a year's time I would be ok with that but tried the other night & it was very uncomfortable as it is still numb there. I can't seem to sleep on my sides either. It feels weird. I think I'll check with my surgeon as I am due to go in end of Sept. thks, Lynne :)

09-04-2007, 01:59 AM

You are still early in your recovery so don't get too discouraged. I know we all want things to get back to "normal" sooner than actually do.

You have to let your body heal in it's own time, and I know who frustrating that is!!!

My thoughts are with you!!! And I know how depressing it can get.

Take some comfort in knowing that you're not alone with this struggle. All of us have been there at some point in out recovery process.