5 Pool Exercises That Can Alleviate Back Pain

Dealing with back pain can be a debilitating struggle, and whether you’re in treatment or trying to manage symptoms at home, water exercises can be a powerful therapeutic tool in your kit. It’s always crucial to check with your physician to make sure your condition and treatment is compatible with certain kinds of exercise, but if you get the go ahead, hopping in the pool can become a valuable part of your recovery process.

With pool workouts, less load-bearing stress is placed on your back, unlike walking, jogging, or lifting weights. Pool exercises will put little to no compression on your spine, allowing you to work out without worsening back problems. The resistance added to your movements by the water is great for improving functional strength, flexibility and especially cardio health.

While there are any number of workouts you could incorporate into your routine, here are five of the top exercises to get your back feeling limber and fresh. It’s easy to start feeling like the next Michael Phelps when you get in the water, but remember, gentle workouts and stretches are the surest way to get better. If pain continues to worsen even after trying these techniques, consider contacting the specialists at NJ Spine and Orthopedic today.

Kick Board Balance

The kick board is a great tool, and this exercise will help you build a strong base in your lower back for stability. Consider trying the following:

  • Sit on the board in a shallower end of the pool and gain balance there
  • Keep your spine at a straight angle, sitting up straight up using your abdominal muscles for balance for 60 seconds

In between sets, be sure to rest. With this exercise and others, the risk of injury due to loss of form increases as you fatigue. By resting between sets, you allow for that all-important recovery to take place so you can execute your next set with proper form.

Superman Stretch

This stretch is perfect to limber up your lower back, easing out all the muscles in a relatively weightless environment and allowing the burdened parts of your spine to loosen up. Try these steps:

  • Hold onto the edge of the pool with both hands and your shoulders kept wide
  • Lift your legs up behind you and allow them to float to the surface

If this puts strain on your neck, you can allow your head to rest in the water and come up for breaths.


Water walking is a low-impact cardio exercise that can also help strengthen muscle groups that you use everyday when walking around. It’s generally an easy way to get some cardio in the pool, and will leave you feeling steadier and lighter on your feet on solid ground. The extra resistance of walking in water allows you to challenge and strengthen your muscles in ways you may not be able to with a land-based routine. It also helps you burn more calories, which can aid in weight loss.

Leg Lifts

This exercise can improve both flexibility and strength in your hips, which in turn can improve lower back pain. For a successful set of leg lifts, try the following:

  • Hold a wall for support if needed, stand on one leg, and raise the other in front of you while keeping it straight
  • Stretch as far as you can comfortably by pushing your limits to some extent, but don’t force anything
  • Repeat on the other side

Your core will be getting as much action as your legs in this exercise. Once you feel balanced and supported at the pool’s edge, feel free to pick your hands up for an added ab challenge.


When dealing with back pain, these two strokes are optimal as they do not necessitate a lot of twisting like freestyle or butterfly do. These low-impact movements still let you get your cardio in and build strength without unnecessary stress.

Seek Help with Back Pain Specialists

While these exercises can go a long way to improving your spinal health and moderating symptoms, speaking to a professional is a good step if your pain lasts longer than a few weeks. The award-winning team of Orthopedic Specialists, Neurologists and Neurosurgeons at New Jersey Spine & Orthopedic is dedicated to a patient-centric approach tailored to your individual needs. Your journey to recovery starts today when you fill out a contact form or call us at 866-553-0612

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