Mary Jean McKinnon is a physical therapy assistant.
q: what are the benefits of swimming after an injury?
A: There are many benefits to swimming after an injury or to exercising in the water after an injury.
First, when swimming after an injury, it is possible to isolate the upper or lower body. The upper body may be isolated with the use of a pull buoy. I would propose isolating the lower body by kicking on one’s stomach or back, without a kickboard.
Often kick boards put too much pressure on the shoulder complex or on the lower back. By utilizing the structures, opposite of the injured body part, one is able to still maintain ardiovascular fitness and extremity strength.
Secondly, one can begin exercising in the water at a higher intensity than on land as the water removes a significant portion of gravity. Thus, when the MD or PT clears the patient, they may begin aquatic strengthening or return to sport (example: run in water) earlier.
The ability to exercise may also reduce the negative psychological effects athletes endure after an injury.
q: The benefits of water reach farther than general fitness.
A: While my practice pertains to orthopedic conditions, when I was researching for this question there were articles supporting swimming for rehabilitation after a brain injury or to improve the pathology of hypertension.
So, after an injury, it may be worth talking to the MD or PT to find out if swimming or aquatic exercise are a safe and a beneficial intervention.
For more great information, please check out our recent Facebook Live video with Mary Jean as she shares her techniques in the pool.