Matthew has a spinal injury and swims most days to ease his pain. He has been a regular client of Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice Service since 2017 and has also been helped by Aspire’s Money Advisor.

Swimming has helped my life in a very positive way since I sustained a spinal cord injury and I would recommend it to anyone.  

I learnt to swim when I was very young, but I never swam as much as I do now. Before my injury I enjoyed water sports such as water skiing and sailing, so I’ve always felt very confident in the water.  I took up swimming mainly to try and keep some level of fitness and I knew that being in water would be easier than walking or any land-based activity.

Swimming for pain relief

I can honestly say that being in water and swimming is transformational for me in terms of my pain and it’s the very first thing I would recommend to anyone with a physical disability that causes pain, as you are weightless.

I try to swim every day, but whether I can depends on my pain levels and whether I can drive. Some days, I simply cannot leave my house, but I always make sure I swim four or five times a week for at least an hour.

Being in water makes me feel free. 

It is so difficult for me to get up, get ready and drive to my pool because of my pain, but as soon as I get into the water I’m weightless and I can feel my body relaxing.  When I swim, I have a lot more movement in my body than when I’m on land, and it is such a relief for a short period.  Any other exercise increases my pain.  Swimming does the total opposite which is amazing for me.

Matthew sitting by the swimming pool

Swimming for mental health

Swimming makes a vast difference to my mental health. No matter how hard it has been for me to drive to the pool, get changed and into the water, afterwards I always feel better.  I feel more human because I can actually do something I enjoy and it keeps me in a good mind set for the rest of the day.  My physio can even tell the days I haven’t been able to swim as my body is tighter, I’m in more pain and I feel more down. 

Swimming creates a different world for me: it takes me away from the reality of everything that a spinal cord injury brings and has been a life line for me.  I would be so depressed if I couldn’t swim.

Swimming as a social activity

Because of my pain levels I don’t get out a lot, so swimming is also a social activity for me. It’s hard to chat to people while swimming, but just that human contact in the building and maybe having a coffee with someone afterwards makes a difference. 

Swimming with Aspire

I swam the Solent for Aspire in 2016 and I raised over £2,000 in about five weeks. I was so happy to do it and finish it. For me it was a win win situation because I got to raise money for a great charity doing something I love.

I would love to do another fundraising swim for Aspire in the future and I think the Aspire Channel Swim is a great idea.  I can’t do it this year as my health isn’t as good as it was back in 2016, but I would love to if things improve for me in future.

Doing another swim would be a great way for me to raise some more money for Aspire, especially after all the help you’ve given me in the last year or two. You guys feel like friends and it’s always lovely to speak with you.

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