Running
 
People with scoliosis sometimes find it more difficult to move around than people with healthy spines. This can be a big problem for sports enthusiasts with curved spines: mobility and flexibility are two very important attributes when you're engaging in physical activities, and some scoliosis sufferers struggle to perform to the best of their abilities when it comes to athletic pursuits.
 
Running is one sport where the presence of a spinal curvature can cause real problems for the athlete. Today, we're going to look at what exactly scoliosis can mean for runners before exploring some possible treatment options.

How does scoliosis affect a runner's performance?

Scoliosis can affect a person's ability to run in a number of different ways:
  • A curved spine often leads to pain and discomfort, which can eat away at a runner's stamina and endurance - especially when it lasts for long periods. (Some scoliosis sufferers find swimming to be a more comfortable, less painful form of exercise.)

  • In some cases, an abnormally large spinal curve can cause reduced lung capacity, resulting in compromised breathing. Breathing is a crucial part of running (particularly distance running, e.g. marathons), and scoliosis can sometimes cause problems by making it difficult for the runner to catch their breath.

  • When scoliosis causes reduced flexibility, it may impair a runner's performance by limiting their range of movement.

Does running make scoliosis worse?

In addition to the above considerations, runners with scoliosis also have to be wary of making their spinal curve even worse. Scoliosis often progresses over time anyway, but certain physical activities - including running - may speed up this process, in some cases increasing the patient's Cobb angle quite rapidly.
 
This happens because of the way a runner's back rotates and flexes with every step. Running on paved or hard surfaces can further increase the load on a scoliotic spine, which serves to intensify the daily effects of gravity on the less-than-adequately-supported vertebrae and ultimately causes the condition to progress.

Treatment options for runners with scoliosis

Some of the recommended treatments for scoliosis can be just as limiting as the spinal curvature itself. Wearing a back brace can help to halt the progression of the curve, but that rigid plastic shell dramatically inhibits the wearer's movements. Spinal fusion surgery may be recommended once the Cobb angle has reached a certain point, but again, this procedure can leave the patient with drastically reduced mobility and flexibility.
 
Don't worry, though - scoliosis doesn't have to spell the end for your running career. (Did you know that Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man himself, is a scoliosis sufferer?) The non-surgical treatment courses that we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic consistently get fantastic results, minimising the symptoms of scoliosis without any intrusive corrective measures or procedures.

Shona's story

Shona Hargreave, a teenager from Merseyside, visited our clinic in 2014 because she was concerned that her spinal curve would put a premature end to her competitive running career.
 
Shona, a runner with scoliosis
Image source: St Helens Reporter
 
Her scoliosis was manifesting itself in a range of symptoms, including:
  • Back pain
  • Reduced breathing capacity
  • Asymmetrical appearance
Our ScolioGold therapy helped Shona to overcome these symptoms and return to training. Here's what she had to say about her time at the clinic:
 
"When I was told I had scoliosis, I didn't really understand - no one ever sat me down and explained what was going on in my back until I got to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.

"The staff there were amazing. They made me feel normal again, and encouraged me to carry on living a normal life. The exercises weren't too hard; you just had to think about what you were doing.
 
"Everything has changed this year. I feel alive, health, happy, and I cannot wait to get back to running."
 
You can read more about Shona at www.sthelensreporter.co.uk. If you would like to book a consultation with Scoliosis SOS, please get in touch today.
When you're concentrating on work, it can be very easy to fall into bad posture habits - especially if you spend most of the working day sitting at a desk. Sitting still for long periods of time can be quite bad for your body to begin with, but when you're sitting in a position that is putting pressure on certain parts of your musculoskeletal system, the effect is compounded, with potentially dire results.

A desk job can be particularly hazardous to your health if you already suffer from scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine) or hyper-kyphosis (an excessive forward curve in the spine). Poor desk posture can exacerbate back pain, a common symptom of scoliosis, and may even contribute to the continued progression of one's existing spinal curve.

Therapeutic stretches to try at work

Whether you suffer from a spinal condition or not, you can perform the following stretches while seated at your desk in order to stave off the potential health consequences of bad posture:

Thoracic Extension at Desk

Stretch #1: Thoracic Extension at a Desk

  1. Sit forwards in your seat with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Place the palms of your hands and your mid-forearms underneath your desk, with elbows bent to 90 degrees.

  3. Apply gentle pressure in an upwards direction with your hands and mid-forearms, while simultaneously extending your upper back and allowing your pelvis to rock forwards.

  4. Ensure that your chin is tucked in as your neck elongates upwards.

  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat 3 times for one set.

  6. Complete this stretch again after 30 minutes of sitting.

Levator Scapulae Stretch

Stretch #2: Levator Scapulae Stretch

  1. Sit comfortably in your chair with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet firmly on the floor.

  2. Place one hand behind your lower back to ensure a correct lumbar lordosis.

  3. With your head, look over to the right side and diagonally downwards towards your armpit.

  4. Place your right hand onto the occiput (the bony part of the base of your skull).

  5. Use the weight of your arm to stretch the neck in a downward and diagonal direction.

  6. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat 3 times for one set.

  7. Swap sides and repeat.

  8. Complete this stretch again after 30 minutes of sitting.

Sitting Piriformis Stretch

Stretch #3: Sitting Piriformis Stretch

  1. Sit comfortably in your chair with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet firmly on the floor.

  2. With one leg at a time, place your ankle across your opposite knee, as though you are crossing your legs individually.

  3. Ensure that you maintain a small lumbar lordosis with a contracted core to optimise the position of your pelvis and lumbar spine.

  4. Push down gently on the crossed leg's knee to stretch the piriformis muscle (located on the outside of the gluteal region).

  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for one set.

  6. Swap sides and repeat.

  7. Complete this stretch again after 30 minutes of sitting.
If you suffer from scoliosis, or another spinal condition, and you are looking for an effective non-surgical treatment route, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to learn about our ScolioGold therapy courses.
Back pain treatment

Back pain is a very common ailment amongst people of all ages. It varies hugely in severity - ranging from a mildly uncomfortable ache to constant, debilitating agony - and can be brought on by all kinds of different triggers, including:
  • Poor posture
  • Lifting heavy objects (manual handling injuries)
  • Pulled muscles or ligaments
  • Stress / fatigue
  • Hard blows to the back (e.g. falling on your back)
  • Medical conditions such as scoliosis or spondylolisthesis
Most back pain gets better within a few weeks if not sooner. Sometimes, a simple change may be all that's required to relieve your back pain - for example, if you suffer from back pain due to bad posture, correcting your posture should solve the problem.

Sometimes, however, the pain doesn't go away (this is called 'chronic pain' or 'persistent pain'). In this case, it may be necessary to seek treatment.

Treatment options for persistent back pain

If you are suffering from severe and/or persistent back pain, you should visit your GP. They will most likely recommend one (or more) of the following treatments:
  • Pain relief medication. In order to help you deal with the pain, your doctor may prescribe a course of painkillers. Different types of medication may be recommended depending on the severity of your pain and other factors: if you only require light pain relief, paracetamol or ibuprofen might do the trick, whereas particularly excruciating pain may require something stronger (such as codeine or tramadol). Always consult your GP before taking pain medication.

  • Physical therapy. In certain circumstances, physical therapy may be recommended as a way of reducing your pain and helping you to live your life normally. Some forms of physical therapy are available on the NHS, although if your pain is caused by an underlying medical issue, it may be a good idea to seek a specialised treatment course that is specifically tailored to your condition (e.g. ScolioGold therapy for scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine).

  • Surgery. Some causes of chronic back pain can be corrected via a surgical operation. For instance, if you have a severe case of scoliosis that's causing persistent pain, spinal fusion surgery might be recommended as a possible solution. However, surgery is invasive and comes with many risks, and there are several alternatives to surgery that you should consider before undergoing an operation.
if you suffer from back pain and would like to arrange for a Specialist Spinal Physiotherapist to assess and treat your condition, please contact Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 to arrange an Initial Consultation.
Spondylolisthesis
 
The human spine (also known as the backbone or, more properly, the vertebral column) is made up of numerous small bones called vertebrae. When a vertebra is damaged or displaced, the knock-on effects can have serious consequences for the health of the entire back and even of the body as a whole.
 
One good example of this is a condition called spondylolisthesis.

What is spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips out of place so that it is no longer aligned with the rest of the spine. This can happen for a number of reasons: some people are born with defects that lead to spondylolisthesis, but it can also be caused by a blow to the spine, a tumour, and the body's natural ageing process, among other things.
 
Spondylolisthesis usually occurs in the lower (lumbar) spine, although it can happen further up too.

So, spondylolisthesis is the same as a slipped disc?

No. The phrase 'slipped disc' is perhaps a little misleading - it really has nothing to with vertebrae slipping out of place. Rather, a slipped disc occurs when one of the 'discs' that sit in between your vertebrae becomes ruptured. If this happens, the nucleus pulposus (a gel-like substance inside each disc) may bulge out through the wall of the disc, putting pressure on your nerves and resulting in pain.
 
This phenomenon is unrelated to spondylolisthesis, which affects the vertebrae rather than the discs that separate them.

Spondylolisthesis symptoms

Spondylolisthesis sufferers may notice some or all of the following symptoms:
  • Back pain and/or stiffness
  • Tightness of the leg muscles
  • Sciatica (pain or discomfort of the legs and/or buttocks)
  • Curvature of the spine (see below)
That being said, some people with spondylolisthesis don't notice any symptoms at all.

Spondylolisthesis and scoliosis - what's the connection?

As noted above, one possible outcome of spondylolisthesis is a curve in one's spine. Scoliosis (a sideways curve) or hyperkyphosis (a forward curve) may develop due to the weakening of the backbone that occurs when a vertebrae moves out of place.
 
Scoliosis and hyperkyphosis can themselves lead to a number of health issues, including:
  • Back pain
  • Reduced mobility and/or flexibility
  • Compromised breathing
A curved spine can also have visible effects (e.g. uneven shoulders, prominent ribcage), which in turn may result in reduced self-esteem and a negative body image.

Treating scoliosis and spondylolisthesis

Whether your spine is curved as a result of spondylolisthesis or another underlying condition, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London can help you. Our exercise-based ScolioGold treatment programme has been fine-tuned to specifically address the needs of scoliosis and hyperkyphosis sufferers, and the results we achieve are consistently outstanding.
 
We use a variety of physiotherapy methods to treat those suffering from spondylolisthesis, such as: 
  • Schroth Method
  • Rigo-Schroth Method
  • FITS Method
  • PNF Technique 
  • SEAS Method
  • Taping

Click here to read about all the different methods we use to treat our patients' spinal conditions.

For more information about our treatment courses, or to book an initial session with one of our consultants, please contact us today
Will My Child Have Scoliosis?

When you're told for the first time that you have scoliosis, the diagnosis instantly raises a whole host of questions. How will this affect my daily life? Am I going to be in lots of pain? Will I need surgery?

Of course, if you're planning to have children at some point in your life, there's another big question that may well pop into your head:

Will my child have scoliosis too?

We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are often asked this question by patients who are still learning about their condition. It seems as though a lot of scoliosis sufferers are troubled by the possibility that they might pass on their spinal curvature to their son or daughter, so today we'd like to take a closer look at this issue.

Is scoliosis passed on genetically?

For the purposes of this discussion, we're going to talk exclusively about idiopathic scoliosis, by far the condition's most common form. If your scoliosis is non-idiopathic and arose because of some underlying condition (such as osteoporosis or Marfan syndrome), you will need to research the underlying condition in order to assess the likelihood that your child will be affected.

Idiopathic scoliosis, by definition, has no known cause, but it seems to occur as a result of genetic factors. However, that absolutely does not mean that idiopathic scoliosis sufferers always bear scoliotic children. Here are some statistics that may put your mind at ease:

  • Just 1 in 4 scoliosis sufferers (approx.) have at least one other case of scoliosis in their family.

  • If you are the child or sibling of a scoliosis sufferer, you have roughly an 11% chance of developing the condition yourself.

Bear in mind that lots of other variables still apply here: for example, scoliosis is far more likely to occur in females, so the risk of passing scoliosis on to your child is significantly lower if you're expecting a boy.

Checking child for scoliosis

How do I check if my child has scoliosis?

Here's how to check your child for signs of scoliosis:

  • Ask your child to stand in front of you with their back to you. They will need to take off their top so that you can see their back and spine.

  • Firstly, check to see if both sides of their neck, shoulders, rib cage, waist and hips look even and symmetrical.

  • Secondly, ask your child to bend forwards from the waist. Look at both sides of their rib cage: does one side appear higher than the other?

Remember, every body is unique, so some minor differences are to be expected - this may not indicate the presence of scoliosis. That being said, if you are concerned, it is a good idea to get your child checked by a medical professional.

If your child develops scoliosis...

Even if your child does develop a spinal curve as they grow, it's important to remember that scoliosis sufferers can live just as well as people with healthy spines. Young scoliosis sufferers should be monitored closely, as medical observation will ensure that treatment can begin right away if and when it becomes necessary. Tackling scoliosis early (i.e. before the curve can progress too far) goes a long way towards limiting the condition's effect on the patient's health and quality of life - watch the video below for a real-life example of this (Lottie, a 12 year-old girl from Surrey).

An exercise-based treatment course that is specifically tailored to scoliosis patients (such as our own ScolioGold method) can be very effective at combating scoliosis, especially when it is still at an early stage. If you or your child need scoliosis treatment, please feel free to contact Scoliosis SOS and arrange a consultation with our scoliosis consultants.

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