so, the swimming...

As recommended by my doctor, I have decided to try swimming to help my back troubles.
(He's convinced I need to strengthen my core muscles.)

A back that has had limited flexibility since 1986.
A back that goes "out" more often than.......well, certainly more than I do.
A back that screams in pain if a physiotherapist does minimal, gentle massage on it.
Well, he called it gentle.
I cried. A lot.

I bought the swimsuit, I bought a pass to the pool, good for thirty visits. 

Ever tried to stuff many pounds worth of sagging fat into a tiny piece of Lycra?
(I couldn't find anything in a neck-to-knee style.)

Went "swimming" the very next day.
A Sunday.

As a swimmer, I'm an excellent floater.
And I can lie on my towel soaking up some sun really well too.

Actual swimming?
Forget it!

I floated and got water in my ears that took hours to drain out again.
I struggled my way up and down the pool, and I do mean struggled, then got out for a rest.

It's not that I don't know how to swim, I do, although I'm not a good swimmer.
I have poor technique, never having mastered the "flutter" kick.
But I can swim.

What I'd forgotten though, was because of the bursitis and tendon trouble, the shoulders don't want to rotate the way they should for the overarm crawl stroke.
This is bad news.
I was reduced to dog paddling with an occasional burst of breaststroke and much floating. 

But I can see how these totally different movements, (different from sitting on the couch that is), could eventually, possibly, help my back.

So I resolved to keep trying.
After all, I'd paid good money for that pool pass, I wasn't about to waste it.
(If I'd bought a single one day entry, I could see myself giving up.)

I decided to go to the pool every Friday, because that's my day off, also on Saturdays and Sundays.

Well, blow me down with a feather!, the pool was closed for the next Friday and Saturday, so I didn't get to go again until last Sunday.

I've been doing my shoulder exercises, so tried the overarm crawl style this time and managed to swim a few metres before going back to the dog paddling and floating.
Again, I struggled up and down the pool twice, got out and rested and then repeated the process.

I had to leave earlier than I would have liked, because I'd forgotten to pack my sunscreen, but I was rather pleased with my progress.
My second "swim" in close to thirty years and already I'd managed to get my shoulder moving close enough to an overarm movement.
Very slowly, but I did it.
For a short time. Probably only 3-4 metres, but it's a start. 

On my way out, I checked the notice board and discovered that the pool is closed again all of next week and the week after.
For pre-booked "events".
Possibly school swimming carnivals or something similar.
So weekends it is.

I did notice that the overarm swimming stretched the side and lower back muscles a bit and on the way home the pain over my right hip got quite bad. By the time I got off the bus I wanted to crawl on my hands and knees because my hip wouldn't take the weight of my leg walking.

But in spite of that and in spite of the pool closures, I shall keep going.
I've remembered how much I enjoy being in the water.


  1. Good for you! Even if your gumption only lasts a year, it's a year's worth of gumption.

  2. Wow River, that is awesome...I thought you were going to say you quit after the first go around with your shoulder and all.

    But you went back and you did BETTER. Good for you!

  3. Good for you. You've got more ambition than I do for sure...of course, when I swim I sink like a stone lol.

  4. I know I should swim but I can't seem to get motivated. Good on you.

  5. Fantastic!! I've been told by doctors and physios alike that I "should get into the pool" but I've been putting it off as MOH would have to drive me and he does enough of that now with appts etc. Walking in water is I feel nearly as good as swimming and you can do exercises in the water using those long plastic things (forget what they're called). You'd probably find instructions on the internet for water exercises. Keep up the good work and hope it really helps.

  6. I envy you. I'm exactly halfway between two pools and it takes hours to get to them by public transport. One does have a fantastic water aerobics programme for arthritis and the water helps support the weight while exercising, it's the getting out that kills.
    I know it sounds looney but try using a kickboard instead of swimming overarm which will help the leg muscles and you don't want to do anything to that rotator cuff again.

  7. Hey, you can be proud, dear lady. When you say you are going to do something, you do it and stick to it. Way to go.
    By the time you use up that card, I bet you'll be back in the groove and buy another card.

  8. Good for you. Hopefully, each time you go will be a little easier than the time before.

  9. No need to try too hard, being in water takes the weight off your spine and thats the whole point of swimming. You can simply walk up and down and swim the deep end only or you can use one of those floatation tubes to help you along.

  10. You're to be congratulated, River, because it's been a long time and your body (and brain) are doing their very best to put you off but you've still got the determination to do it.

    As you've noticed it does get easier. Swimming is particularly good for showing results and improvement. Good on you!

  11. Joanne; I'm a little worried about the winter. I'll have to find an indoor pool, probably in a gym and they're more expensive. And full of sporty athletic types.

    Jennifer Kay; I do quit a lot of things, but I enjoy being in the water, so I'm sticking it out.

    Delores; my mum was like that too, couldn't float or swim at all.

    Andrew; perhaps my progress will motivate you. Think of all the pretty bois you might see at the pool.

    Mimsie; internet instructions! Why didn't I think of that. It's a shame you can't get to a pool or beach.

    JahTeh; I'm halfway between two pools too. The one I'm going to is a bus ride into the city, then a tram to the pool suburb, then a short walk. The other one is two bus rides in the other direction.
    I tried a kickboard and couldn't make any progress at all. Gave it up and dog paddled.

    Manzanita; I'll definitely buy another card, but probably next summer. I'll have to find an indoor pool for the winter.

    Susan; it would get easier if I could go more often, but there are so many "closed for events' days scheduled. And I'm not paying for another pass at another pool.

    Tempo; me try hard? Ha Ha Ha. I'm doing a lot of floating.

    Kath Lockett; it has been a heck of a long time. So far the hardest part has been stuffing the fat into the suit.

  12. I was also going to suggest a kick board.

  13. Just floating around is doing you just as much good. So keep working hard by floating around.. B)

  14. Blossom; no go on the kickboard. I tried and it's not for me.

    Tempo; I enjoy just floating, but have to keep a watch out for others using the lane.

  15. Love the water. I am glad you are getting to play in it again and hope the improvements continue. Being able to move again is such a wonderful thing!

    You are SO BRAVE regarding the bathers. I went shopping and came home with... lycra to make myself a skirted pair of bathers. Which I haven't done yet. ;-)

  16. My partner swears that the only thing that helped her bout with back pain was "water walking." She is a good swimmer, used to swim daily, but then had back pain and couldn't do it. She finally just got in the pool and walked back and forth for an hour a day. She said it helped immensely. Go figure.

  17. Eccentricess: I just wish the pool wasn't closed so often for events. it means I'm only there weekends, so not much improvement yet. I decided that since I can't see myself while I'm in the water, others can't either, so a plain black suit is what I'm wearing.

    Maria; welcome to drifting. I've noticed that walking in the water helps my hips a bit, so I'm doing that in between my up and down the lanes struggle.

  18. Well done and I hope you keep it up because swimming is great on so many levels and I miss it. I use ear plugs, that way no water gets in and you might consider a dinky little paddle board to help you kick you way up and down the pool as you gradually get your strength and stamina up.

  19. Oh, I've just read through the comments and read about the kickboard... oh well, you'll find your own style... perhaps the ear plugs will help though.


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