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Exercise and Scoliosis

We often hear people say that if one has scoliosis, they can’t participate in exercises, is that true?

The answer is no. One can usually participate in any type of exercises with scoliosis. Note we are only talking about participation here, not being GOOD at it. Due to the posture and muscle changes in scoliosis, some movements will be harder to achieve, and some will be restricted due to poor flexibility or poor muscle control. For example, one can still play golf, but turning of the trunk may be slightly restricted and that makes a swing slightly harder to perform. Another example is when someone with scoliosis runs, his/ her running pattern may be different due to the posture change.

Exercise endurance sometimes can be affected by reduced lung capacities but this is rare in individuals with idiopathic scoliosis. The main reason for reduced exercise endurance is believed to be a result of lack of regular sports participation. For those who hesitate to participate in sports because they worry about their curves may be worsened by exercises, they can be well assured that it is unlikely that exercises would have any adverse effects on the curve. The reason is that in order for the spine’s growth to change, one needs to exercise continuously for up to 18 hours a day, which is almost impossible for any sports.

If exercises that did not hurt before are now giving you pain, please tune down on the intensity of exercises for a few days. If the pain does not go away, you may need to consult a Dr. or a physiotherapist. Most likely the cause of the pain is that the exercises you are doing has aggravated the muscle imbalance too much, which creates too much joint compression on one side, and too much joint traction on the other side.

Can swimming help reduce the curve of scoliosis?

Swimming is frequently recommended for patients with back problems because the spine is less loaded in the pool with the help of buoyancy. That makes it a natural question “is swimming also recommended for patients with scoliosis?”

The answer is people with scoliosis do benefit from swimming.  Besides the fact that swimming is good for general strengthening of the back muscles, it is also good for breathing function. This makes swimming exceptionally suitable for scoliosis as lung capacity and exercise endurance are likely to be affected among the individuals with scoliosis.

Scoliosis involves uneven development of the spine and the back muscles, as swimming targets generally on the whole back, it would not be able to specifically help reduce back pain caused by muscle imbalance.  It does not help reduce the curvature too.

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