3 Things to Know about Pool Exercise

Hi everyone!

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the question I’m asked the most is “what are your exercises?”

However, I know many of you out there are coming from different starting points, with different levels of what you are physically able to do without pain. So, before I go into a list of specific exercises, I first wanted to first address three key concepts for you to keep in mind.

#1 Proper Posture

The first thing an aquatic physical therapist ever did with me was to make sure I was engaging a muscle called the tranverse abdominis properly.

This muscle is arguably the most important muscle in your core, and it wraps around the whole front of your body.

256px-Transversus_abdominis (1)

When you contract this muscle, it’s as though you’re tightening a corset that wraps around your whole front.  It has the effect of making your torso stiff, which helps to hold your lower back and SI joints in position.

This helps protect your joints as you go throughout your exercise routine.  It’s really important to do your exercises with proper posture, to make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit out of them and aren’t going to give yourself a setback.

For more on the core and transverse abdominis, you can check out:

#2 The Deep End

I personally received the most benefit from doing exercises in deep water, where I was using flotation devices to support my upper body while letting my legs hang beneath you.

If you go to the 2:20 point in this video, you can see how this woman is using pool noodles and flotation dumbells to support herself, while moving her legs beneath her.

You can use any configuration of flotation devices that feels comfortable for you.  The key is to have your lumbar spine in a comfortable position, and again– PROPER POSTURE!

Then, generally, you can kick your legs in different directions– forward and backwards, and side to side.  All of these movements engage different muscles within the hips, and all are important for stabilizing the pelvis.

Allowing your legs to hang beneath you like this also gives you some additional benefits in the form of something called traction.  Basically, it means that you’re letting gravity gently pull your legs, pelvis and spine down, creating space in any of the joints that have been compressed.

Someone asked me recently if this was bad for hypermobile joints.  In my experience, no! There isn’t enough force pulling on your legs to pull your joints into unhealthy directions.  Instead, it just helps to create space within joints that have been compressed as you’re up walking around, going about your daily life.  However, I would NOT recommend doing it with ankle weights, or anything like that.

#3 The Shallow End

For some people, though, the shallow end is an easier place to start out.

If you aren’t comfortable in deep water, or prefer to start out feeling more balanced, you can even just start out with basic shallow water walking.

Generally, you can walk forwards… and you can walk backwards.  You can even walk sideways.  These movements sound so basic, however they all work different muscles in your hips!

You can also do mini-squats while you’re standing in the shallow end– these help work the muscles in the back of the hips (commonly called the glutes).

There is so much more to say about aquatic exercise, but I hope this post gets you started!

And just as a reminder, the information I share here is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. However, it is meant to provide you with a roadmap from someone who has been through this herself, so I hope this information is helpful!

For more on strengthening, check out:

And for more on the benefits of pool exercise specifically:

Hope this helps!

Published by Christy Collins

Hi, I'm Christy! I'm a health coach who helps people overcome SI joint dysfunction and chronic pain.

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