Is Swimming Good for Sciatica? Best 3 Water Exercises (& Success Stories)

Posted on: | Updated on:
Is Swimming Good for Sciatica?

Written by: Kimberly Roderick, Licensed DPT

Many people think that sciatica is an untreatable medical condition. However, this isn't true.

Sciatica is considered a symptom of a medical condition and can be cured. The compression of the sciatic nerve causes it.

Sciatica is commonly associated with back pain but can also affect other areas of the body. This is because the sciatica nerve travels from the spine to the legs and feet.

But some ways can be beneficial to ease this pain. Swimming is one of those solutions. But how so?

This article will briefly discuss all the relevant information about swimming and how it benefits sciatica patients. Read this article to learn about them.

Does Swimming Help with Sciatica?

People suffering from sciatica don’t consider doing some exercise. It is the last thing on their mind due to unbearable pain. They will surely experience pain and discomfort while putting it off.

But do you know that swimming can be extremely beneficial for sciatica patients? It helps to enhance flexibility and nerve pain.

Swimming releases endorphins in the body that act as a natural painkiller.

Moreover, swimming can be the best way to stay mobile and active when you experience sciatica pain. A consultant neurosurgeon and spinal surgeon, Mr. Jonathan Bull, stated in an interview:

"You should remain active in terms of swimming and cycling and walking."

The weightlessness in water reduces the pressure on your body. It also helps reduce the pressure from joints, muscles and nerves and strengthens your body.



Is Walking in a Pool Good for Sciatica?

Walking in a pool, also known as water walking or aqua walking, can be beneficial exercise for people suffering from sciatica.

The buoyancy of the water reduces the impact on the joints and spine. This makes it a low-impact and gentle form of exercise.

When walking in a pool, the water provides resistance, which helps strengthen the muscles without putting excessive strain on the affected areas.

It can improve overall muscle tone, stability, and flexibility, providing better support for the spine and reducing the risk of nerve compression.

Furthermore, the hydrostatic pressure of the water can help reduce swelling and inflammation around the sciatic nerve. This inflammation is potentially alleviating pain and discomfort associated with sciatica.

Walking in a pool is also a cardiovascular exercise that promotes blood circulation and can aid in weight management, further supporting the management of sciatica symptoms.

As with any exercise, it is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate intensity and duration of water walking based on individual needs and limitations.

What Type of Swimming is Good for Sciatica?

When it comes to sciatica pain, swimming is one of the best solutions for effectively relieving it. But there certain swimming strokes and techniques can be more beneficial than others.

Here are some swimming approaches that are generally helpful for patients suffering from sciatica. They are:


The freestyle stroke is one of the safest swimming styles for individuals with sciatica. It involves rhythmic arm and leg movements while maintaining a horizontal position in the water.

This stroke helps strengthen the back, abdomen, and leg muscles. It also provides better support to the spine and alleviates sciatica symptoms.


backstroke swimming seniors

Backstroke can also be very beneficial for sciatica patients. It helps to improve the proper posture and spinal alignment of the body. This will ultimately reduce pressure on sciatica nerves.

Additionally, it engages the back and core muscles, which provide stability and support to the spine.

Gentle Treading Water

This low-impact swimming type can be extremely useful for those suffering from sciatica. It helps to maintain an upright position in the water. This can be easily done using gentle leg movement in the water to stay afloat.

This exercise engages various muscle groups and promotes circulation without excessive stress on the spine.

Can Swimming Aggravates Sciatica?

Swimming is considered a low-impact exercise that can benefit individuals with sciatica.

But certain swimming activities can aggravate symptoms in some cases. Aggravation of sciatica during swimming can occur due to multiple reasons.

You might be using an incorrect technique that can lead to excessive strain on the back or improper positioning that irritates the sciatic nerve.

Additionally, overexertion or intense swimming workouts can fatigue the muscles and potentially worsen sciatica.

It is important to maintain proper form first and gradually increase the intensity and duration of swimming sessions.

Don't ignore your body's response to it; listen to your body to avoid overexertion or exacerbation of symptoms.

Best Swimming Exercises for Sciatica & Lower Back Pain

If you are planning for water therapy, then make sure to consult a doctor or physiotherapist. You will safely perform appropriate swimming exercises for sciatica and lower back pain.

Even walking the water can aid you in strengthening your core and leg muscles. It will improve the overall balance of your body. Some of the basic swimming exercises with no side effects are as follows:


Many experts have recommended starting walking in the water. They suggested starting from waist-high water and going deeper as your body strengthens and becomes more stable.

In order to maintain good posture, it is important to brace your core and swing your arms.

You can also bring up one knee to your chest or job while standing in the position. This will help your muscles to strengthen and relieve your pain.

Water Aerobics

If you are experiencing less intense sciatica pain, go for water aerobics exercise.

The simple improvements in these aerobics can drastically improve your flexibility and range of motion.

Renowned Spinal surgeo, Mr. Khalid Salem, suggested in an interview that:

"Those exercises are best to imply that through putting the leg into a range of motion, we're asking the nerve in the back to move over the pathology reducing its inflammation."

Moreover, you will find staying active easier despite having sciatica and lower back pain.

Success Stories: Real-Life Experiences of Sciatica Sufferers

Many individuals with sciatica have experienced significant relief and improvement in their symptoms through swimming.

Here are a few success stories from real-life sciatica sufferers:

For privacy reasons, let's call our first sciatica sufferer "Sarah".  After years of struggling with sciatica pain, Sarah decided to give swimming a try.

She started with short, gentle swimming sessions and gradually increased her time in the water.

Within a few weeks, Sarah noticed a significant reduction in pain and improved flexibility.

Swimming became her go-to exercise, providing not only physical relief but also a sense of relaxation and mental well-being.

In another case, "John" had been an avid runner until his sciatica symptoms became too severe to continue.

Reluctant to give up on exercise altogether, he turned to swimming as a low-impact alternative.

To his surprise, swimming not only allowed him to stay active but also improved his overall fitness. John's sciatica pain reduced, and he regained his strength and endurance.

Swimming became an integral part of his recovery and ongoing management of sciatica.

Remember, every individual's experience with sciatica and swimming may vary.

It's essential to listen to your body, work with healthcare professionals, and find the swim routine that best suits your needs and preferences.

Final Thoughts

Sciatica is not an ignorable condition and can restrict your mobility. You find it difficult to move around and do simple things.

But some simple workouts, such as swimming, can help reduce this main and improve your flexibility.

We hope this article will provide you with all the relevant information about swimming in sciatica and how it can benefit you. Try swimming if you suffer from sciatica to improve your pain.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. We strongly suggest seeking the advice and care of a healthcare professional before starting any treatment.

Licensed PTA
Kimberly is a practicing Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant with 21 years of experience in the field. She is also a Freelance Writer. On her time off, she enjoys kickboxing, paddle boarding, and playing with her two Boxers, Letty and Finn. more
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Disclosure: Easy Posture Brands is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to As an Amazon Associate, we receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) on qualifying purchases so we can continue to create helpful free content. Our experts independently evaluate all recommended products and services. Thank you, we appreciate your support!