Why shouldn’t we swim with a pull buoy when we have lower back pain?

Why shouldn’t we swim with a pull buoy when we have lower back pain or when our body  sinks in the water?


In this article you will learn why you shouldn’t use a pull buoy in order to float better especially when suffering from lower back pain. You will also learn when you should we use a pull buoy, why you should use it and what you should be aware of when using one.?

What’s a pull buoy? And why do we use it?

Like suggested by its name a “Pull buoy” is a buoy that helps us float better in the water when working on our upper body technique (pull) in various swimming styles. Using the buoy squeezed in between your thighs while swimming prevents your legs  from moving in order for us to work on our pulling. We can also use the pull buoy combined with Paddles which increases the surface area of the pull.

I call “swimming with paddles and pull buoy” my private gym because this kind of workout strengthens my muscles while also elongating them! Sounds good right?

Yes! and No!

Yes! If you don’t have pain in your lower back and shoulders.
No! If you do have pain and use the buoy in order to float better like many open water swimmers and triathletes do.

Thousands of swimmers and especially triathletes use the pull buoy because they have a tendency to sink and the buoy helps them  to swim more easily, float better and by that swim faster. But does it really help us learn how to float better without the help of the pull buoy?
The answer is no! It’s just an illusion and when swimming in open water without a suit and the buoy, the swimmers just find themselves sinking., I even know  some swimmers who had to stop in the middle of their competition because they didn’t work on floating without the help of accessories.

So how can we work on our floating?

We can swim with fins, dive with fins, work on elongating our glide, loosening our shoulders and neck while always remembering the most important thing which is to swim WEST according to our flexibility level.

WEST online swimming courses work on making us float better by elongating the muscles and loosening our lower back.

Why is a pull buoy bad for our lower back (when having lower back pain) and how can we loosen our backs without the help of a pull buoy?

  1. In order for us to hold the buoy between our legs we have to lock our legs and the pelvis. Even if you don’t have a herniated disk or suffer from back pain, locking up the pelvis for a couple of minutes will cause pain to our spine because the muscles tense up and press on the lower back which is the center of our body. It is important to know that it is possible to loosen our lower back with a pull buoy but most people don’t do it right and then they don’t understand why they have such back pains after swimming.
  2. When using the pull buoy, our body becomes arched since the buoy floats the legs up. This can make pain in our lower backs become more intense. When suffering from lower back pain our goal is to try to loosen the body and swim as neutral as possible with the spine, so the pull buoy that floats our legs up creating an arch whether we’d like it or not, is not right for one suffering from lower back pain.

So what should we do with our legs if we don’t use a pull buoy?

One of the best swimming tips for lower back pain and floating issues, is just to drag our legs with the glide, when doing so the lower back loosens, we float better and we can treat lower back pain without going to the doctor.

Swimming with a pull buoy can be fantastic exercise, strengthening and elongating the muscles all at the same time, but it’s not right for everyone and one should be aware of this when choosing to practice with our without a pull buoy.



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