What is Scoliosis?
Before we talk about scoliosis exercise, it’s important to understand what scoliosis is in the first place. Scoliosis is a disorder that causes an abnormal curve in the spine. When you look at the profile angle of a spine, you’ll notice a normal curvature, but when looking at it from the front, it appears straight. People who suffer from scoliosis have spinal curves at angles more severe than normal, or additional curves to either side, forcing the bones of the spine to twist on one another.
Symptoms and Signs of Scoliosis
An abnormal curve of the spine will usually occur over time, so it’s often not observed until it’s gotten more severe. Schools perform regular scoliosis screenings, which often identify the beginning of scoliosis development. Additionally, some people come to realize they’re developing scoliosis when they notice that their pants are longer on one side than the other, or that their clothes fit differently than usual.
Some people with scoliosis appear to have their heads off-center, or their hips or shoulders appear to be aligned with one higher than the other. There may also be a more obvious curve to the side of one of their ribs. In particularly severe cases, people suffering from scoliosis may have shortness of breath or chest pain, because the twisting of their spine can affect the way their heart and lungs work.
Exercise for People with Scoliosis
Some people with scoliosis abstain from exercise because they’re worried about injuring themselves due to their condition. It’s important for people suffering from scoliosis to know that exercise or athletic activities doesn’t have any effect on non-fused spinal curves. Even patients who have had their spinal segments fused won’t suffer from additional stress due to exercise; the increased stress on the non-fused spinal segments that make up for the function loss of the fused segments isn’t any more intense during physical activity than any other daily activity. If your spinal segment fusion is located so low that there are only one or two lumbar vertebrae beneath it, you should be careful about any excessive twisting or loading while exercising, but for all other patients, normal exercise should be fine.
Regular exercise has a number of health advantages, including improved strength and flexibility of muscles and joints, cardiovascular conditioning, and weigh control. Women are able to prevent osteoporosis by exercising regularly. People who exercise regularly have also been known to be less stressed and happier. People with scoliosis shouldn’t miss out on all of these advantages out of fear of further injury—go get active!
Exercise can be especially therapeutic for scoliosis sufferers who have had spinal fusions. The aches and pains that are sometimes associated with scoliosis can be reduced with regular physical activity, and there are many exercises and stretches that are especially beneficial for back pain. If you suffer from scoliosis, developing an exercise plan with an experienced physical therapist is a great way to improve your flexibility and strength, dramatically reducing your pain.
Come on into Physical Solutions to get started on a customized fitness plan that’s right for you!