Stop Lower Back Pain From Swimming and SCUBA Part II
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Stop Lower Back Pain From Swimming and SCUBA Part II

Yesterday's post explained the most common hidden cause of lower backache after swimming and scuba diving. Swimmers and divers who get this chronic pain are often misdiagnosed with SI (sacroiliac) joint dysfunction, arthritis, disc injury or various "catch-all" terms for back pain with unknown origin. Scans may show damage to the facet joints, which can occur from spinal overarching. Injections and surgeries and various anti-inflammatories are often prescribed. No shots, medicines, or surgeries are needed. You do not need physical therapy or strengthening programs. All you need to do is stop overarching and maintain neutral spine when walking, running, swimming, and diving. It is easy, and is a healthy and normal spine position. You do not tighten any muscles to do it. It is just learning a normal posture.

Check yourself to see if you stand in hyperlordosis:

  1. Stand up and look sideways in a mirror. Your belt should be level, as in the left drawing of neutral spine. The side seam in dress or trousers should be vertical from leg to waist, as in left drawing, not tilted forward at the hip (middle drawing).
  2. Back up slowly and gently into a wall. If your backside touches first, it may be an indicator that you lean forward at the hip. If your upper back touches first, it often is a good indicator that you lean the upper body backward (right drawing).

  3. Stand with your back against a wall, with heels, hips, upper back and back of your head touching. There should be a small space between your lower back and the wall, but not a large space. Then raise both arms overhead to touch fingers to the wall behind you to simulate swimming with arms outstretched. See if the lumbar curve increases. You should be able to stand with the back of your head touching the wall without increasing your normal curve, and be able to raise your arms without increasing it.

If you have a large space between lower back and the wall, try this:

  1. Press the lower back toward the wall to feel how to decrease the space. There is a short movie of this on Fast Fitness - How to Feel Change to Neutral Spine.
  2. If you can't figure how to do that, put your hands on your hips, thumbs facing the back, and roll your hip under so that your thumbs come downward in back.
  3. Feel the large space between lower back and the wall become a smaller space.

Lower back pain that is caused by hyperlordosis should ease right away. Learn how to easily, gently do this while walking, running, swimming, or whatever you do. This is done without tightening or clenching any muscles.

Keep the good new neutral spine when you walk away from the wall, and all the time. Apply it to when you are swimming and scuba diving.

Muscle Use is Not Automatic
The muscles that hold neutral spine are your abdominal muscles. They do not do this automatically, which is why strengthening programs do little to stop back pain. Someone may have strong abs but stand and swim in arched posture, with continuing lower back pain.

Heavy scuba tanks don't make you arch your back or have bad posture. Not using your ab muscles to counter the pull, and allowing your back to arch is the problem.

When you are standing up wearing tanks, straighten your body against the pull of the load and maintain neutral spine. Do not tighten your abs, just move your pelvis. If you notice yourself arching while wearing tanks, straighten your body as if starting to do a crunch but don't curl forward. Only straighten to neutral spine. Don't tuck so much that you lean back or push your hips forward.

No More Lower Back Pain From Overarching
Transfer this neutral spine skill to your daily life for carrying gear, putting cargo up on racks, heavy packages on counters, and whenever you lift and reach. Use neutral spine when standing, walking, running, reaching overhead, swimming, and scuba diving.

Related Fitness Fixer:

Drawing copyright © by Dr. Jolie Bookspan from the book The Ab Revolution™
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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.