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ddl
February 27th, 2009, 10:33 PM
I think it's obvious that regular swimming should help improve posture, especially the spine. I feel it even makes us walk better. What are your experiences? I was a little surprised to have seen quite a few swimmers (mostly women in their 50's-60's) with hunchbacks where I swim. They go swimming almost every day, but the curved spines are very visible when they do freestyle. Was it that they took up swimming after having already developed spine problems? Otherwise, if they had been swimming most of their lives, shouldn't they have a great physique?

ALM
February 27th, 2009, 11:34 PM
I was a little surprised to have seen quite a few swimmers (mostly women in their 50's-60's) with hunchbacks where I swim. They go swimming almost every day, but the curved spines are very visible when they do freestyle. Was it that they took up swimming after having already developed spine problems? Otherwise, if they had been swimming most of their lives, shouldn't they have a great physique?

The curved spines that you are seeing are most likely caused by osteoporosis.

This illustration might help:
http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/aha/aha_osp_art.htm

And this article:
http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/guides/osteo.htm

ddl
February 27th, 2009, 11:43 PM
Nice illustrations!

So, even if I swim every day, I may still get that look? Not a nice thought :(

ALM
February 27th, 2009, 11:51 PM
Our bones are constantly breaking down and rebuilding themselves. One thing that "tells" the bones to rebuild is weight-bearing exercise. "Weight-bearing" means working against gravity. Walking, running, and weightlifting are all weight-bearing activities. Swimming and bicycling are NOT weight-bearing activities because you're not working against gravity.

Swimming is great for cardiovascular health, but not for bone health. You need to mix in a weight-bearing activity for bone health.

gigi
February 28th, 2009, 08:14 AM
I've been a life-long swimmer (with widely varying degrees of intensity) and I never had particularly great posture - ok, but certainly not noteworthy. BUT when I began to practice yoga I noticed an marked inprovement in my strangth and posture. And others noticed it too. I think any kind of training (yoga, weights, rowing) that increases the muscle tone in the back will help "pull' your posture straighter.

I guess the moral of this thread is to eat well and add some weight-bearing ex. to your routine to prevent that spine collapse that comes with osteoporosis.

Altaica
February 28th, 2009, 06:54 PM
In regards to the original question, I *do* believe that swimming was beneficial to my back.

I began swimming in fifth grade, quite poorly at first, as I wouldn't put my face in the water, but wanted to be on the swim team anyways, so I began with elementary back, got some coaching, and learned over the course of the next two years to do all of the competitive racing strokes.

Also in fifth grade, I was diagnosed with scoliosis, with an S-curve in my spine, and the threat of surgery. The curves were both of a degree that were borderline on surgery, but the doctors held off for a year to see how they would look after that time. My sister was also diagnosed with scoliosis as well, not quite as much curve, but a definite curve that needed to be monitored.

She began swimming when I did, and within that year, both she and I lost much of our scoliosis curves, mine was completely gone by two years from the original x-ray, hers was gone in one year.

So yes, I do think did help, but as far as osteoporosis, or other back conditions? I don't know. I know that my sister and I did a lot of growing in those years, and it could've been more than the swimming, but either way I'm glad it worked out as well as it did.

Gloria

RadSwim
March 1st, 2009, 02:35 PM
I think it's obvious that regular swimming should help improve posture, especially the spine. I feel it even makes us walk better. What are your experiences?

Swimming has unquestionable improved my posture and greatly improved chronic muscle spasm in my neck. I was one of those tall, skinny, slumped-shoulder teens. From my 20's - early 40's, I had increasing neck, shoulder and upper back pain. I used to keep a soft cervical collar in my car and travel with it in case I suddenly developed another bout of wry neck.

I started swimming seriously at age 44. Now at 48, most of my life-long posture and pain problems have resolved.

The challenge is improving strength and joint flexibility gradually, without causing injury.

Radswim