Swimming problem!

I went swimming for the first time since being diagnosed with Ataxia recently. Well, I say swimming, I was in the pool and tried to do something approaching swimming but found that my legs just floated up to the surface which made trying to actually to do anything near on impossible. Has anyone else had this problem? Also as hard as tried to stay on my front my body twisted round so I was on my back again with my legs rising to the surface - most disconcerting as it was Impossible to control. If anyone has a ideas how to get round this problem I'd be interested to hear about them as it was good to get back into the water after a long time.

16 Replies

  • Hi Tiggywinkles :-)

    Unfortunately I'm not a swimmer but someone told me that she veers off

    to one side of the pool when swimming. A therapist said this was due to

    Ataxia, I'll ask about the floating legs :-) xB

  • Thanks, that would be useful to know. Not sure how I can get round the problem other than wearing weights on them!!

  • I spoke to my friend today. The therapist advises her to use a float/s

    and try to just propel using legs. Not easy but she's persevering :-) xB

  • Well, what´s the problem?

    You can move and forget about SCA ----->> fantastic



  • I joined an aqua aerobics class and that was great fun, good exercise and also social.

    I also had advice from my local physio department regarding exercises to do in water to help with balance and build core strength.

    I think with ataxia it is a question of adapting all the time

    I wish you well and hope you manage to keep going to the pool because it is exercising in a safe way.

  • Hi I find a swimming noodle very useful as it can support you on your back or front. I also have a float. I was diagnosed with ataxia a year ago and now I need a wheel chair. But I really look forward to my twice weekly swim sessions so worth persevering.

  • I also found swimming to be challenging. Just standing in the water, through me off balance. I suppose like anything else, a private instructor would be helpful.

  • Hi I have the opposite problem my legs sink to the bottom. after being a strong swimmer this is frustrating , I use a long thin round float under my arms and manage a sort of breast stroke, otherwise I do my exercises.

  • Swimming is probably the only 'social' exercise I CAN do! OK, I'm not gonna win any medals for elegance or speed but at least I'm keeping active. I was fortunate to have a course of hydrotheraphy and felt so much safer than in a gym. Water has no sharp edges to bump into and as for 'falling' under the water... I find that as long as you keep your mouth shut and limbs still (don't panic!), the body naturally floats? It is quite exhausting, as you have to concentrate on switching on muscles that Ataxia has/is switching off but it's worth persevering. I know it may not be for everybody but works for me anyway and is certainly worth a try?

  • Hi Tiggywinkles,

    I too have problems swimming. After being a strong swimmer this is very frustrating.

    However, when I go to a swimming pool I do try to swim even though I normally sink, this is probably due to lack of confidence. What I have found is that if I use a noodle for the first few minutes to build up my confidence by doing a few strokes, I then try a few breast strokes without the noodle, each time walking a step further back. I can now do a full length unaided, however each time I start with a noodle. It is always advisable to have someone near, just in case.

    I have been looking around for a not too intrusive swimming vest, but so far no luck.

    I'm sorry I cannot suggest anything for your legs floating to the top, with me my whole body just sinks.

    Good luck, let me know how you fair.


  • I swam for about 2 years.It was very good for the social interaaction and I made some good friends.It was very good for your stage of ataxia.I found that with me it was better to forget that I had once been a good swimmer and used floats and aids for exercise rather than swimmming. I only gave up because I cannnot change clothes now,I gave up driving and we moved. The thing I found very useful was the non slip socks around the pool. Everybody progresses at a different rate.I enjoyed my swimmming days.Keeps you mobile and exercises those core muscles.

    One of our support group goes swimming every day via public transport.There's dedication for you.

    Keep up the good work and don't have too high expectations about style.Don't worry about your legs;just go.The therapist at the time suggested going on your back and doing aa bicycle movement.Strengthens the legs.I was afraid of the water as I no longer had the control I used to.

  • Thank-you to all of you for your replies. I am planning to have another go, this time in the pool at the local Calvert Trust Centre. Their pool has everything for use by their disabled guests but also allows others to use it when not already booked. I shall report back how I get on. Many thanks Mary for phoning me - we seem to have the same problem of 'floating legs' - I try some of things you suggested. Watch this space!

  • I used to be a speed swimmer and diver in high school, but now with ataxia and also 60 years young, I can't swim like I use to, and forget about diving! Those days are looong gone...,ha! I did aquatic therapy recently and LOVED it, although I wasn't "swimming" (just doing leg and arm exercises in the water), therefore not sure how that would go. But, for me, just being in the water was liberating, as my balance wasn't as compromised being "held up" by the water. So I plan to do it on my own and will keep you posted as to how I do "swimming". I did use a noodle to do some kicking and noticed my legs kept floating to the top of the water, so there must be something to that! ;o)

  • Hi Tiggywinkles, Bozier here,

    I have Gluten Ataxia and have joined a Aqua rehab class at my local swimming centre, I can't do some of the exercises but i do what I can, but it does help I can do more in the water than I can otherwise it might be worth giving it a try.

  • Hi Tiggywinkles,

    I have Gluten Ataxia and have joined a Aqua Rehab class at my local Fitness centre. I explained to the instructor about the condition I cant do some of the exercises, I just do what I can. I do far more in the water than I can otherwise, I find it helps and enjoy it.

  • I have this problem when swimming & I'm afraid there is nothing that can be done if I did attempt to go only front my head keeps dunking in water & body turns to my back so I just do swimming on my back

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