Staying Ahead of the Curve
I lived for years with no issues from my scoliosis, I trampolined multiple times a week, played netball and danced my way through University. I swam, I ran, and for a long time endurance sport was my thing. I've lifted weights and burpee'd with the best of them and my back never gave me any trouble, but just after I hit 40 I started to feel a few niggles in my lower back.
The thing with Scoliosis is that as we age and our muscles and ligaments weaken, there may be another progression where the curve begins to get larger again. I believe that strength is my strength and so I put time, effort and energy into staying ahead of my curve in the hope I can slow its progression.
A scoliotic spine has a huge impact on the body. The torso generally appears uneven, one shoulder may sit lower that the other, one shoulder blade may protrude. The ribs on the concave or short side will be compressed and they flatten as they move closer to each other; the muscles will be shortened and tight, there can even be less lung volume on that side, and pain might be experienced from the tightness.
As the spine curves to the side, the ribs on the convex side will form a rib hump as they spread further apart. The muscles on this side are lengthened and tight, being stretched beyond their comfort and they can start to splint and spasm against the constant pull.
Often there is a notable 'stronger' side which overcompensates for the weaker side, this causes muscle imbalances and injury, and is often when Adult Scoliosis (Adult Onset Scoliosis, or Degenerative Scoliosis) is detected, as back pain is the main complaint.
I believe the key factor in improving Scoliosis is becoming aware of where your imbalances lie, and identifying which muscles need strengthening and which muscles need stretching, with the aim of keeping the back strong, lengthened and flexible.
I have put my focus on performing movements that stretch the tight muscle groups on the concave side of the body and build strength on the convex (protruding) side, which tends to be weaker.
I avoid high impact and heavy weight bearing exercise. I use core stabilisation and unilateral training to try and create symmetry throughout my body.
Unilateral training involves training one side of the body at a time. It creates a stabilisation effect, where the body is forced to stabilise other parts of the body in order to cope with the lack of balance and symmetry. My objective is to bring the weaker side up to meet the stronger side!
A strong emphasis is also placed on core stability exercises (with not a crunch in sight!) A strong core is important. By strengthening the muscles in the centre of the body, you can keep the pelvis and spine in correct alignment, which also helps protect the spine from injury.
Remember my primary goal is to bring my scoliosis into a balanced state for the (fingers crossed) improvement and maintenance of its condition. I can't ever 'fix' it, but I can make it more comfortable to live with. I am not a doctor, I'm simply sharing what has helped me over the last few years, and I continue to live and learn. Everyones case is different, so ensure you listen to your body and do what works for you.
I am seeing benefits of the work I am doing on staying ahead of my curve. Front on you might not realise I have such severe curves, I don't believe my posture and symmetry give away the curvy spine that lies beneath my skin.
To look after your scoliosis and get ahead of your curve, I'd strongly recommend daily stretching, focussing on opening up the shortened concave side, some cardiovascular exercise to get blood flowing to all the muscles of the back and get the ribs moving, and strength work with a focus on the weaker side. Before beginning any exercise program it is very important to discuss with your Doctor/Physiotherapist or other Medical Health Professional to see if exercise is appropriate for you. I am more than happy to work with your medical professional to help you achieve your goals.
If you or anyone you know would benefit from personal training to get ahead of the curve, please direct message me, I would love to help.
Health and Happiness