Is Water Aerobics Making Your Back Worse

Is Water Aerobics Making Your Back Worse?

Water Aerobics Making Your Back Worse

One of the biggest benefits of aquatic exercise is that it has a low impact on the joints. In fact, water aerobics is often recommended by doctors and physical therapists to patients with arthritis and others with painful joints and muscles. Here is why…


Water provides buoyancy. It eliminates a lot of stress on the joints during the exercise. It also makes it easier for anyone with painful joints to move. Anyone with joint issues in the hips, knees, or back can find that the buoyancy is far less stressful on their body. They can even exercise longer than they can out of the water. It doesn’t even matter how much a person weighs either.


Water creates resistance when you start moving in it. It will help you strengthen your muscles, without needing weights or resistance bands. Exercising with resistance outside of water can be quite painful for anyone with joint inflammation. Water resistance combined with buoyancy allows for more comfortable forms of exercise.

Hydrostatic Pressure

Hydrostatic pressure helps to reduce inflammation in the joints. It increases your balance and coordination, especially if you have torn ligaments, sprains, and soft tissue inflammation caused by disease or injury.

Warmth and Relaxation

Aquatic exercise tends to generate warmth. This helps to relax the muscles, as well as increase blood flow to areas that are injured and inflamed. Patients with fibromyalgia, back issues, and spasms often find water exercises to be less painful and helpful.

This doesn’t mean you won’t feel the effects of exercise afterward. If you are doing it right, your body should feel like you had a good workout. However, you should be able to do movements that would normally be painful or difficult.

The Disadvantages To Water Aerobics

As with anything, there are some disadvantages when planning out your aquatic exercise routine. It will be up to you, to determine if they outweigh the advantages.

One of the disadvantages is that not all pool water is created equal. Some people can be sensitive to the chemicals in the water. These symptoms can include itchy skin and eyes, or even respiratory issues. Showering immediately afterward can sometimes resolve the issue.

Another downside is that it doesn’t burn as many calories as an intense workout on land. If painful joints make it difficult to exercise, it’s far better to exercise in the pool than not at all.

Weight Bearing

But, perhaps the biggest disadvantage to water aerobics is that physical therapy in a pool doesn’t carry over well to the land.

You spend the majority of your life outside of the pool with no buoyancy. This means you’re weight-bearing almost all the time. While the pool is a good starting point, you will have to transition to bearing full weight at some point. This is the only way you will fully recover. If you don’t, you could severely impact your bone density as well.

Lastly, some movements instructed in the pool, your body isn’t ready for quite yet. Reaching and any overhead movements can cause irritation and inflammation. Also, an upright row with the shoulder (lifting upwards with an internally rotated shoulder) can cause impingement of the shoulder. So make sure to move slowly, with gradual resistance, when trying new movements and exercises.

All things considered though, aquatic exercise is a great form of working out or physical therapy. Just make sure to combine it with activities on land, or weight-bearing forms of strength training and exercise. Click here to learn about lower back exercises that can be done on land.

About The Author

Jaime Curl

I've explored various fields within physical therapy including acute care and oncology at Troy Beaumont Hospital and outpatient physical therapy. As the office administrator and marketer, I'm able to combine my love for health and exercise science with my interest in marketing and numbers skills. My hobbies include spending time with friends and family, baking, crafting, and watching my favorite movies or tv shows.

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