(a sideways curvature of the spine) can be caused by all sorts of different factors. For example, if your muscles are weakened by a condition such as cerebral palsy
or Guillain-Barré syndrome
, this can lead to a curvature of the spine that progresses over time. Some children are born with scoliosis because their spines didn’t develop properly in the womb; on the other hand, scoliosis sometimes develops much later in life due to the deterioration of the spine’s intervertebral discs with age. Of course, the vast majority of scoliosis sufferers have idiopathic scoliosis
, which usually arrives with puberty and has no known cause.
But now that we’ve covered some of the things that do cause scoliosis, let’s talk about something that definitely doesn’t.
Bad posture doesn’t cause scoliosis…
Bad posture can have a very detrimental effect on your general health, but there is no evidence that slouching in a chair or hunching over your laptop can cause scoliosis. As we recently clarified in our Scoliosis Myths
blog post, the same goes for:
- Wearing a rucksack on just one shoulder
- Playing a heavy guitar
- Carrying weighty loads on your back
The causes of scoliosis are many and varied, but generally speaking, the condition only ever arises as a result of genetic factors or neuromuscular / skeletal deterioration. Poor posture is not a recognised cause of scoliosis.
…but bad posture is still bad for you!
Of course, just because something doesn’t cause scoliosis doesn’t mean that it can’t affect your health in other ways. We’ve discussed the effects of bad posture
in previous blog posts, but we’d like to briefly revisit the potential consequences of postural health now, just to make sure you understand them.
Bad posture CAN cause:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Arm pain
- Hyperkyphosis (another curvature of the spine – hyperkyphosis is a forward curve, whereas scoliosis goes sideways)
treatment courses can help hyperkyphosis sufferers as well as scoliosis patients – in fact, one of our most famous patients came to us for help combating his hyperkyphosis. Nick “Topper” Headon, who was the drummer for British punk band The Clash (of ‘London Caling’ and ‘Rock the Casbah’ fame) from 1977-1982, developed a kyphotic spinal curve after years spent hunching over a drum kit; he completed a two-week course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and this enabled him to come off the medication he had been taking to help him cope with his back pain.
If you read our recent blog post about the effects of bad posture, you’ll know how detrimental postural problems can be to a person’s overall health. Unfortunately, certain jobs / activities can put you at a particularly high risk for poor posture – for example, you are more likely to have bad posture if you:
- Work at a desk
- Regularly lift heavy objects
- Play certain musical instruments (drummers are especially prone to bad posture)
- Frequently drive for long periods
More generally, you may well develop postural problems if you tend to lean on one leg while standing, hunch over your phone while texting, and/or slouch while sitting in a chair.
The good news is that exercise can go a long way to combating the effects of poor posture. Here are three simple posture-improving exercises that are easy to perform in the comfort of your own home:
This exercise is great for computer users who spend hours every day leaning over a desk.
- Sit on a chair (try to find one without arms, as these may get in the way).
- Rest your hands on your thighs.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together – imagine there is a pencil between your shoulder blades, and you are trying to hold it in place.
- While doing this stretch, keep your chin tucked in and your chest high to achieve the right position.
- Hold the squeeze for 5 seconds, relax, then repeat several times.
This exercise is good for the shoulders – see if you can work out why we call it the ‘Titanic’ stretch!
- Find something to hold onto – we’ve used our wall bars in the photo above, but a bannister, door frame or towel rail will be fine.
- Stand with your back to the bars and hold onto them just above shoulder height. Place your feet together, as close to the wall as possible.
- Keeping your arms straight, lean forwards. You should feel a stretch in your chest and at the front of your shoulders.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds. Try to keep your chin tucked in.
- Relax and repeat 3 times.
This exercise strengthens your core muscles and targets the lower back to help improve your posture.
- Lie on your front.
- Prop yourself up on your forearms and toes, so that your whole body is raised off the floor. Try to place your shoulders right above your elbows and create a straight line from head to toe – you will need to make sure that your legs are straight and your hips raised.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds, relax, then repeat several times.
An easier version of this exercise involves resting on your knees instead of your toes, as shown here:
More exercises to try at home:
Disclaimer: The above information should not be treated as medical advice, and the exercises described may not be suitable or beneficial for everyone. You should not begin any exercise routine without consulting a qualified health practitioner, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or if you have any chronic or recurring conditions. Any application of the exercises suggested above is at the reader’s sole discretion and risk. Scoliosis SOS accepts no responsibility or liability for any loss or injuries caused directly or indirectly through the performing of any exercises described. If you feel any discomfort or pain during exercise, stop immediately. Always consult your own GP if you are in any way concerned about your health or anything associated with it.