It’s a common misconception that physically demanding exercises and sports can be detrimental to people with scoliosis. While scoliosis can negatively impact your ability to exercise safely, some exercises can actually prove beneficial.
However, some exercises are better than others, and it’s important to know which exercises to avoid with scoliosis. This will largely depend on several elements, including the type and severity of your scoliosis.
Below, we recommend exercises that could be beneficial to your scoliosis as well as some that could be harmful and detail how working with a chiropractor could result in not having to make any compromises.
Scoliosis in a Nutshell
To better understand how certain exercises affect the body when scoliosis is present, it’s crucial to understand scoliosis on a foundational level.
Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve or rotate unnaturally, resulting in the development of a lateral curvature that exceeds 10 degrees and altering the typical shape of the spine into a C- or S-shape. While it can occur in any region of the spine, it most commonly affects the upper spine and lower back.
Scoliosis is commonly thought of as a condition that affects juveniles. While scoliosis does often develop in adolescence, that is merely one type of scoliosis. Scoliosis can appear at any age—in fact, more than 30% of all cases of scoliosis manifest in adulthood.
The different types of scoliosis include:
|Types of Scoliosis|
|Idiopathic||This specific form of scoliosis has no recognized causes, which is why it is referred to as idiopathic. It is a developmental condition believed to have a genetic component that commonly manifests in the first few years of adolescence. A school nurse will typically examine for this form of scoliosis because it is the most common.|
|Congenital||Congenital scoliosis refers to scoliosis that stems from some form of birth defect. This could be a minor irregularity in the spine that could later progress into scoliosis as the skeleton develops.|
|Neuromuscular||Neurological issues can weaken the muscles and ligaments that connect to the spine, causing the spine’s curvature to break down. This is common in people with conditions such as spina bifida.|
|Degenerative||Degenerative scoliosis occurs as the spine is worn down over time due to the deterioration of the joints, discs, and muscles. The posture will break down as the spine comes under excess pressure and tension, which will lead to the progression of a scoliotic curve.|
When considering exercises or physical activities, people with scoliosis have to be somewhat mindful because of the role the spine plays in their body. It acts as the central support structure for the entire body and also acts as the body’s shock absorber. This means that it is under a lot of constant strain and pressure, and deviations in its natural curvature could adversely affect its ability to function.
|If you’re concerned that you may have scoliosis, free online screenings like the one from ScoliCare can be a great first step toward diagnosis and treatment.|
Exercises to Avoid With Scoliosis
Your ability to exercise can be affected by what type of scoliosis you have, the degree of your curvature, and other factors such as age and weight.
For example, the skeleton reaches maturity around age 25 and will be at its most stable between the ages of 25 and 50. For people in that age range with a relatively mild idiopathic scoliotic curve, their spines should still be relatively stable and thus should be able to perform most exercises without worry. However, because the spine is such an integral part of the body, those with scoliosis ideally want to steer from certain activities such as:
- Swimming: While generally a very healthy activity for the entire body, swimming can be bad for scoliosis because the repetitive motions in a free-floating medium could allow the muscles and ligaments to develop around the unnatural curvature and deepen postural issues, thus progressing scoliosis.
- Heavy weightlifting: Due to the amount of force that the spine is already under in daily operation, adding excessive weight can accelerate the deterioration of the spine’s curvature.
- Contact sports: Any sport that involves direct contact can cause violent spikes of trauma to the spine. These sudden shocks can exacerbate the scoliotic curvature. Moreover, contact sports often involve a lot of sudden twisting and turning movements that can be bad for spinal health.
- Long-distance running: Because the spine acts as the body’s shock absorber, it receives the brunt of force each time your foot hits the ground. Over long distances, these repetitive motions can further deteriorate the curvature of the spine.
It’s important to reiterate that as a general rule, these are not positive activities for those with scoliosis, and as such, you may want to monitor or limit your time engaging in them. However, those with severe or progressed scoliosis may want to avoid activities that involve running or jumping altogether.
Try These Instead!
Thankfully, just because you have scoliosis doesn’t mean you can’t be active. As stated, you can monitor your activity levels to ensure that you are not progressing your scoliosis by engaging in physical activities. Furthermore, many exercises and activities are hugely beneficial for those with scoliosis.
Staying active keeps you healthy in general but for people with scoliosis it can also:
- Reduce some symptoms of pain
- Stabilize scoliosis
- Enhance mobility
- Improve muscular strength
- Prevent spinal instability
Some of the best exercises for people with scoliosis include but are not limited to:
- Body or low-weight exercises: Being able to lift relative body weight is a great way to ensure musculoskeletal health. It can also limit the impact of weight on the spine by keeping the weight parameters within what the spine is already used to holding. Body weight or low-weight exercises can be done with more repetitions than you would be able to do with heavier weights, which can enhance your muscular endurance.
- Exercises that involve controlled bending or twisting: While sudden or overbearing bends or twists can be detrimental to the spine, controlled exercises that involve bends or twists can strengthen the muscles and ligaments attached to the spine, which can help prevent further degeneration of the spine’s curvature.
- Core exercises: Exercises that strengthen the core, such as pelvic tilts or abdominal presses, can also help strengthen the muscles and ligaments that provide stability to the spine and entire body, helping reduce the amount of stress that the joints in the spine are under.
- Yoga and other stretches that promote flexibility: Flexibility is important for those with scoliosis because spinal rigidity impacts its ability to function and can accelerate the progression of scoliosis. Exercises that promote flexibility and improve your range of motion can prevent that rigidity from settling in.
The Benefits of Chiropractic Treatment for Scoliosis
Without adequate treatment, scoliosis will get worse over time. Even when taking a proactive approach to scoliosis by exercising and staying active, you will only be alleviating short-term pain and slowing the progression of scoliosis.
Partnering with a chiropractor for chiropractic care can significantly augment the effectiveness of your own approach while providing a host of other benefits that can further slow or outright halt the progression of scoliosis.
Effective chiropractic care for scoliosis affords non-invasive treatment options, such as postural exercises, neuromuscular education, spinal traction, bracing, and manual chiropractic adjustments, that have been shown to:
- Improve core strength and musculoskeletal health.
- Reduce pain, muscular weakness, and pressure.
- Increase mobility.
- Slow or halt the progression of scoliosis.
Perhaps most importantly, continual chiropractic care can provide constant monitoring and tracking of your spinal health via x-rays and postural analyses to not only get a clear picture of your spinal health but to also allow you to keep doing the things you love.
PostureWorks Prevents Scoliosis Progression
At PostureWorks, we know that every person’s scoliosis is just as different as their ideal spinal curvature. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preventing scoliosis from worsening. That’s why we use Chiropractic BioPhysics® (CBP) as the foundation for our scoliosis treatment.
With CBP, we analyze the spine’s curvature and reference your entire medical history to get an accurate read on your spinal health and needs. This way, we can craft the best treatment plan that is unique to you.
Without chiropractic care, there are exercises to avoid with scoliosis; however, with a mixture of postural exercises, neuromuscular education, spinal traction, bracing, and chiropractic adjustments, coupled with continual tracking of your spine’s curvature, you’ll be able to gain relief from pain while also taking part in the physical activities that you love.
Contact us today for more information on exercises to avoid with scoliosis or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.