To Your Health
July, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 07)
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Effects on the Spine

  • Butterfly strokes cause the shoulders and upper body to come out of the water, placing considerable stress on the lower back.
  • Freestyle (front) strokes and breast (crawl) strokes can cause your lower back to be hyperextended.
  • Breast strokes and butterfly strokes involve wide leg kicks and are not as gentle on the body as freestyle swimming.
  • During freestyle swimming, your neck (cervical spine) is jerked back and forth repetitively when you take breaths.


  • Avoid hurting your neck when you take breaths by using a snorkel.
  • Young girl swimming underwater. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Use a kickboard or some other type of flotation device to help maintain the correct form.
  • Use your abdominal muscles to keep your body level in the water.
  • Side and back strokes are better than front strokes.

Taking a few moments to evaluate how you are performing your activities this summer will go a long way in preventing injuries. More importantly, if you have previously been injured, changing the way you perform the activity will be safer for your body and help prevent future injuries from occurring. Now get out there and have some fun!

Kevin M. Wong, DC, a 1996 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic West in San Jose, Calif., practices full-time in Orinda, Calif. He is also an instructor for Foot Levelers, Inc.