A few months ago I had visited a doctor specialized in back/spine problems as I was convinced that I had a disc problem. I began suffering from headaches and no matter what exercise I did, my shoulders and neck were constantly stiff and my arms and fingers were numb with pain. My previous (and current) jobs involve long hours in front of a computer and the only time I move around in the office is when I go out for a cigarette break. My posture is far from ideal as the office is always cold and I sit with my left leg tucked under me, my right leg crossed over it and my neck sagging into my shoulders in an attempt to stay huddled and warm. I listed to the doctor the endless list of complaints and hurts that I had (despite their self-inflicted nature) and insisted that I must have a serious disc problem because I exercise regularly and there’s just no way this is all posture related. He politely obliged and examined my back, only to tell me (about 3 minutes later), that I do not, in fact, have a disc problem. Turns out that my lower back muscles are extremely weak and that that is what is contributing to my poor posture and back pain.
I cringed. What do I do now? I exercise 4 times a week, focusing on strength and muscle tone – what more should I do? And more importantly, how do I get over the pain? Seeing my desperate need for the experience to be grave and serious so that I could justify visiting him, he wrote me a prescription for swimming.
Yes. He ripped out a paper from his little doctor-pad and wrote out “swimming 3 times a week, 30 minute sessions”. What a waste of paper.
Not letting him off the hook that quickly, I asked for a prescription for the pain, which he also prepared, and thanked him for his time.
Several months later and all kinds of work-outs to boot, I have finally signed up for swimming. A friend was taking lessons at one of the local schools and loved it so much, she said I just HAD to give it a try! I was quite nervous (I can tread water and “move” around, but I by no means know how to swim) but I got my suit and cap and goggles (all from my sister, btw – couldn’t bring myself to buy a one-piece, I look like a pregnant penguin!) and was off to the pool.
So. Much. FUN!
I swallowed half the pool water and was out of breath after my first two laps, but what a work out! I recommend it to everyone – runners especially – as it’s the most kind of fun you can have while working out. I love running, don’t get me wrong, but this is a whole other experience! Being in the water is so calming but challenging at the same time. You can push your body without feeling it so much (minus the desperate gasps for air). And the time passes so quickly you don’t have time to get bored, frustrated or tired. Love, love, love it.
So in getting healthy and fit, swimming has comfortably been included in my weekly exercise routine along with my running and strength work outs to give, what I believe, a complete and holistic fitness routine. Try it!