Does anyone get pain relief from water exercise?

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Monty's Mom
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   Posted 1/1/2011 12:08 PM (GMT -6)   
So my psychiatrist, therapist and PM doctor all have told me this past month to begin some aquatic exercise. Not aquatic therapy, which I tried and ended up with much better range of motion, but no less pain. Just going to a pool at least 3 times a week and walking in the water, kicking my feet, raising my arms, and floating. They all agree that the relaxing quality of water combined with gentle exercise that is not structured so I don't push myself too far would benefit me greatly. When I am in a structured therapy, over-achiever that I am, I want to improve and make the instructor/therapist happy.
I loved to swim when I was younger, but never competitively. They all agreed, no laps. I have looked into many options, because being in Pennsylvania, the winter months call for an indoor pool. Our community has a pool for us to use in the summer. There are several options for financial assistance and my  insurance may cover it if the doctors authorize it and provide letters of reccommendation.
Has anyone ever tried this and been successful or unsuccessful? I am willing to try, but not willing to pay 100 for a program I may never use. Someone tried to get me to join a gym with them, but the nice lady that was helping us with the tour said that the personal trainers wouldn't help me, and they would rather I not join because I may be a liability. If I injured myself badly the trainer could be held responsible.
Thanks for any advice in advance and Happy New Year

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Date Joined Dec 2010
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   Posted 1/1/2011 12:16 PM (GMT -6)   
I did find that it kicked in endorphins for small periods and that even if it didn't lower my pain, it helped with distraction. I think its worth the try. I enjoyed it though its too cold where I am to swim.

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   Posted 1/1/2011 1:10 PM (GMT -6)   
I had frozen shoulders a couple of years ago and started swimming twice a day for a few minutes. ver a couple months I unfroze and got back complete range of motion.
My oldest son has elbow surgery as a teenager. We were told he would probably never get full motion back. He swam all summer and did get a complete recovery.

I think pain from various sources comes back, but the flexibility gained from swimming - real strokes, not just walking - is worth the effort it takes to get to a pool.

If you are able to get a presciption for swimming please do post about it. Let us know if you figure out how to get insurance to cover the cost of a Y or school, or other facility. Even a few weeks is worth something.

As a senior on medicare supplement. I can go to a Y free. It's a little far away, so I don't go as often as I neet to.

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Date Joined Apr 2009
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   Posted 1/1/2011 1:50 PM (GMT -6)   
I love being in the pool. It's great! I do swim if I can, but most of the time I just float or just stand in the water. Does it help with pain? It does--a LITTLE TINY bit, but sometimes that little bit can really make a huge difference.

I have a pool, so I swim in the summertime. Please, PLEASE though just be very careful not to overdo it. When I first began swimming in the summers, I overdid it so much because I was so excited to be physically able to move around. It's just really easy to overdo it in a pool! Take it slowly and I think that you'll love it!



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Date Joined Jul 2009
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   Posted 1/1/2011 2:26 PM (GMT -6)   
I loved water aroebics when I was taking it. The local pools are all closed right now for the winter.
Make sure not to overdo it though.

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Date Joined Oct 2009
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   Posted 1/2/2011 6:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Swimming, not just standing, is the best exercise. It's the gentle stretching you do reaching for the stroke (arms and legs both), bending the core just a little, combined with the pull which tones muscle, that makes it useful.

Best start with no more than 15 minutes if you are out of shape, and I can't imagine needing this forum and not being out of shape. Twice a day is better, but it's winter and most of us have to drive to a pool.

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Date Joined Jul 2008
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   Posted 1/2/2011 7:08 PM (GMT -6)   
I didn't get much benefit from water aerobics/walking. A little bit, but not much. On the other hand, I was able to find a gym with a heated therapy pool (connected with the facility where I did my water therapy) and using the water weights by myself did really help.
I'm like you, though. After causing permanent damage to my neck in post-op PT, I've learned that I usually need to go slower than the therapist recommends, not faster. The therapists like to brag that they can get someone through therapy in 4-6 weeks & the insurance companies only add to that. But I didn't actually start to recover until my PM & I worked out a super slow therapy plan for my low back (now we're working on my neck). Sometimes you get to your goal faster by going slow (there's that competitiveness in me again). By starting out with only 45 seconds of exercise per day & gradually building on that every 5-6 days, I can now hold down a holiday retail job where I'm standing/walking around for 3-4 hours straight. A year ago I couldn't last more than 10-12 minutes without collapsing in pain. So ... there is hope! Hang in there & just go slowly.

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   Posted 1/3/2011 9:23 AM (GMT -6)   
Frances, you brought up an important factor - WARM pool! Mindy - Your docs are wrong about laps. Of course I don't mean competitive training-type laps! I mean very, very slow stretching laps, but real strokes on your belly or back. But just walking doesn't stretch the whole body. I think weights should be added only after weeks and weeks of gentle working without them, and never to a part of the body that is injured unless under direct guidance of a qualified physical therapist.

I swim in the warm pool (used for therapy) at the Y. It's a half-length pool. 1 length each: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, elementary back stroke. Get out after 15 minutes or less to start, even if you feel like doing more. for several sessions, especially if you are not doing it daily. No weekend warriors!

Frances' idea of not overdoing the PT is right for most therapy centers, especially if you have a new therapist fresh out of school or one who has worked with sports teams. I'm in PT again now and have an older therapist who keeps me working much less than another place I tried. Her stretching is less intense than one place I went where a younger sports therapist thought it was ok for it to hurt.

I don't take my morning meds until halfway through therapy, so I know what hurts. After meds kick in I can lift the diesel can up onto the tractor, which injures the shoulder tendon more. It's hard not to do too much if you don't feel the pain. Even with gentle therapy I need meds and ice on and off for the rest of the day.

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Date Joined Jan 2010
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   Posted 1/3/2011 12:32 PM (GMT -6)   
I have been doing AquaFit for about 3 months now (although December was pretty much a write-off because of so many other things going on). I have found it to be the best form of exercise ever for my sore and achy body.

Even if you're not doing an organized program, just walking and stuff that your doctors have mentioned will be good for you. I think the key is probably consistency...going often and doing all the motions they've suggested.

Good luck!

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   Posted 1/3/2011 1:11 PM (GMT -6)   
I use my pool in the summer and I it does help my pain level somewhat. Like anything else we do its best to start off slow. In the winter I am in the jacuzzi and water is the best way for me. If your drs tell you no laps then listen to them. They know your situation better than any of us here at the forum. What may work for one of us may do nothing for you. I have been doing this for many years and its worth it to me.

Take care.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 64
   Posted 1/3/2011 2:54 PM (GMT -6)   
We have a pool in our backyard that I use at least daily, and most days several times daily, in the summer. When I was in the hospital for a month 2 summers ago, they had me in the therapy pool once a day, it felt fantastic. Granted, the pain relief really only helped while I was IN the water, it was definitely worth it.

My doctor prescribed pool therapy along with my PT. Being in a pool does help, but it really needs to be a therapy pool, a pool that's much warmer than a typical pool. Of course every person is different but for me it helps me with range of motion, and it helps take pressure off my spine.
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Joan M
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Date Joined Jan 2006
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   Posted 1/3/2011 4:30 PM (GMT -6)   
i love swimming...i don't do strokes but do walking in the deep water and lots of exercises like jumping jacks and there are other ones. it is great fun and i get to see a lot of people. it is the only exercise i can do because my feet are very bad. right now my foot is being wrapped so i can not swim. i usually go for 45 minutes to 1 hour but when i return after this long time i will probably go for only a 30 minute thing. (i don't swim strokes because of asthma...i feel breathless when my face is covered with water).

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Date Joined Jul 2008
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   Posted 1/3/2011 7:28 PM (GMT -6)   
oohhh Alcie reminded me about the two times PT wasn't totally dreadful -- one on land, one in the water. In both cases, I got a therapist (young) who was used to working mainly with the elderly. I joke about having the body of a 70yo, but I think there might be a shred of truth to it. Going at a geriatric pace seems to work okay for me.
Also, on land my PCP was running SED tests every week or two & we used that to help me pace myself. SED tests measure inflammation via blood draw. It was really valuable feedback for me.
I think the idea of joining with your friend (assuming the place has a pool) sounds like a great idea! Forget what the lady told you. If your doctor has cleared you for exercise, enough said. Really, though, trainers are crazy. Who wants to work with them? That would end up being the same thing or worse than working with a PT. Uggh! They're always trying to insult you and put more stress on you and everything. I say just hang out with your friend and have fun playing in the pool. Go at a slow pace and take breaks to chit-chat and toss tiny pool toys at her when no one is looking. :)
It sounds like the main point is just to be in the pool and not just stand there. Watch what the little kids or the old people do when they're in the pool. They don't work with a trainer or set goals or push themselves beyond their limits; they hang out with their friends and have fun and end up getting a bit of exercise in the process. Kids can be such great teachers! ;)

Monty's Mom
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Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 664
   Posted 1/4/2011 1:37 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you all for the support. Still waiting on the insurance to let me know about coverage. I can't wait to begin!
I had a PT therapist who talked the whole time I was in the pool about all the "young people" going on disability and we are all lazy and just wanting a free ride. He pushed me hard, and I could not complete my last 2 sessions with him from all the pain. So no more personal trainers or PT for me. I hit a point where the benefits do not outweigh the pain anyway. I am praying that at my own pace and with a friend it will be beneficial physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I will let you know what the insurance company says.

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. George Bernard Shaw

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