EVEN though swimming is a low impact exercise, the back pain issue is real, especially when it comes to long distance swims. There is however a simple solution that will solve this issue!
I know the feeling all too well myself, you're in the middle of a great set, smashing out lap after lap and feeling fantastic, until the achy back starts. Tumble-turns turn into painful situations and kicking feels like it will break your back any second.
That annoying achy feeling in your lower back really ruins a great swim set!
I started to notice I was not the only with this issue and maybe the issue wasn't my slight scoliosis that I was diagnosed with years ago. So I started to research how to solve this super annoying issue, and the answer I found was unbelievably simple.
It all comes down to your body position. If you find yourself looking forward when swimming, slightly lifting your head up, you put unnecessary pressure on your lower back. Just test it by standing up or laying face down in bed and lift your chin up, you will feel your lower back starting to arch.
And now tuck your chin towards your chest and tilt your pelvis forward. This will flatten your lower back and take any pressure off, EUREKA!
The good new is that you can do this exact thing while swimming as well and it will solve your back pain issues and bring your enjoyment back in the longer swim sets.
See below a few drills to practice this new body position:
1. Body Position Kick with arms next to you
Push off the wall with your arms next to your body, tuck your chin towards your chest so you're looking straight down the bottom of the pool. Lean forward on your chest and push yourself forward with a relaxed and easy kick. You're looking for the feeling of swimming downhill. Now focus on tilting your pelvis, or suck your belly button into your spine to flatten your lower back, this will lift more of your back out of the water.
Don't kick too hard, you're just kicking to slowly move yourself forward as with this new and improved body position you don't have to kick to keep your legs up anymore.
2. Body position kick with your arms out in front
Same as above, but in this drill you have your arms out front straight above your shoulders. Push your arms and hands slightly down and feel how this lifts your legs and relieves the pressure on your lower back.
Keep looking straight down, tilt your pelvis (or suck your belly button into your spine) and kick easily to slowly push yourself forward.
These 2 drills will give you an idea of what a good body position can do to relieve the pressure on your lower back. Now it's up to you to keep thinking about this while swimming.
If you're worried about not being able to see the end of the pool and hitting the wall head on, just look for the T-split at the end of the black line on the bottom of the pool and this will be your cue to glide into the wall with your arm out.
As I mentioned above this is something I struggled with and these 2 drills have really helped me to change my body position. It took me a little while to get comfortable with it and for a few months I constantly had to remind myself to look down and suck my belly button in, but I can now say that I can swim long distance sets in the pool and open water races without a sore back!
It's amazing how such a little change in your technique can solve such a painful and annoying issue.
Let me know in the comments below if these drills have helped you or if you've come across any other drills or exercises to relieve your back issues.