One of my favorite things about living in this University town is being able to take advantage of all the activities State opens to the community. As a special treat today, I took my daughter with me to swim at Sanderson Center. While I swam my mile, she had fun alternating between swimming alongside me (and often beating me) and playing in her own lane.
Two years ago I thought I needed to give up swimming. As a triathlete, swimming had always been my strongest leg of the race. But after giving birth to my youngest child, swimming consistently hurt my low back. I knew swimming was supposed to be excellent for your back. I’ve recommended it to my patients for almost 15 years as a form of non-impact exercise… a way to get their heart rates up while going easy on the joints. You may think I’m stubborn, but off and on for two years after my son was born, I pushed myself to swim through the pain, simply because I love to swim! I love the way the water feels on my body, I love to exercise, and I love the quiet time. But, no matter how great I felt in the water, I always seemed to pay the price that night - without fail, I’d end up taking Advil, lying on the heating pad, and tossing and turning all night because my back hurt so bad. I knew it wasn’t smart to keep doing this to my body, but all exercise hurt my back… and swimming was “supposed” to be safe. I was doing everything I knew to decrease my back pain: exercise, being aware of my posture and body mechanics, traditional medicine. Yet nothing was helping!
So how did I finally get back to swimming without pain? During my Pilates for Rehab training, I surprisingly discovered that PT alone had been insufficient for me to learn how to create healthy movement patterns. In fact, it was apparent that my own faulty movement patterns were the cause of my pain. I had thought I was being so careful with my posture, but I had no clue! It was completely eye-opening to have an experienced Physical Therapist and Pilates Instructor analyze my movement patterns in multiple planes, positions, and exercises. With their help, I developed a totally new relationship with my body. I learned how to correct the faulty patterns, and I began moving better, more efficiently, and without pain! I’ll never forget the first time I got in the pool after going through my Pilates Rehab training. I couldn’t believe how different my body felt! Even though I had always thought I had good body awareness, I now had a totally different perspective. I had learned which joints I needed to stabilize and which joints I needed to move. I. Swam. Without. Pain… for the first time in years!!
So, today as I look at my 7 year old daughter with her multi-colored goggles, pink swim cap, and huge smile, I’m grateful that I can share my love of swimming with her. We’re even working on our dives, which I haven’t done in 20 years! Moving without pain allows me to be the type of mom I want to be - active, adventurous, and able to keep up!