Playing the violin with scoliosis

Standing for long periods and holding bulky musical instruments can cause problems for musicians with scoliosis.

Heavy instruments, such as the cello and the tuba, can be especially difficult to play (not to mention carry around!) if you suffer from back problems. Playing the violin, meanwhile, has a tendency to place asymmetrical stress on the muscles down one side of the spine.

But don't be alarmed - your scoliosis doesn't mean you have to give up your musical activities. Many people with scoliosis worry about having to give up the hobbies they enjoy, but here at Scoliosis SOS, we help patients to manage their symptoms and keep doing whatever they enjoy most. Your therapist will ensure that you are given adequate education in addition to your tailored exercise programme, and you should continue to see improvements even after you have left the clinic.

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How ScolioGold therapy can help musicians

ScolioGold therapy is our own highly effective combination of non-invasive scoliosis treatment techniques. Among other things, this programme is designed to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine, bringing the patient into a more central upright position while also decreasing pain and preventing further progression.

We use a range of different methods to help our patients, including the Schroth technique, which has been used to successfully treat scoliosis patients for decades. Exercise and appropriate education gives our musically-inclined patients the tools and knowledge they need to manage their condition at home and avoid invasive operations that can rob them of the flexibility their instrument requires.

 

Case Study: Jasmine from Northwood

One of our patients, 12-year-old violinist Jasmine Turner, feared that she would have to give up music because of her scoliosis. Violinists often have to twist into awkward positions while playing, and Jasmine's rapidly-progressing spinal curve made this challenging.

However, following a four-week treatment course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, she has managed to avoid spinal fusion surgery and get back to playing the violin. Read Jasmine's story at getwestlondon.co.uk.

If you're interested in attending a ScolioGold treatment course, please call us on +44 (0)207 488 4428 or contact us online.

Mild Scoliosis in Child

If your child has recently been diagnosed with mild scoliosis, you have probably been given two options.

Option 1 is usually observation, which means that your child will attend check-up appointments every 6 months so that the doctor can track the progress of their condition. In other words, do nothing and wait for the size of the curve to increase. Scoliosis does tend to be a progressive condition, and an adolescent with scoliosis will usually get worse very quickly, especially if they still have lots of growing left to do.

So what's option 2? Well, depending on your child's age and the severity of their curve, they may be offered a scoliosis brace. Braces do vary, but they are usually hard, corset-style shells that must be worn for 23 hours a day in order to achieve the maximum benefit.

Wearing a scoliosis brace can be an effective way of preventing the curve's progression, but only if used in combination with exercise. If the patient doesn't exercise, bracing can lead to muscle wastage, and patients often flop back into their scoliotic posture once they're out of the brace because certain muscles weren't being used and are no longer able to support the spine.

ScolioGold: A Third Option

The specific scoliosis exercises taught here at Scoliosis SOS are geared towards strengthening the muscles surrounding the patient's spine. Our ScolioGold exercise programme works extremely well in combination with bracing - not only does it help patients to keep their muscles strong in preparation for coming out of the brace, it also educates them and helps them to understand their condition, enabling them to help themselves going forward.

If your child has recently been diagnosed with scoliosis, please contact us today for advice and information on the treatment we provide.

Travelling with Scoliosis

If you have scoliosis, you have probably suffered from back and/or shoulder pain in some form over the course of your life.

People with scoliosis often experience increased discomfort when they have to sit down for long periods of time. This means that long-haul flights and even long car journeys can become logistical nightmares - scoliosis-related pain can occur at any age, and even a mild spinal curve can cause a lot of pain.

Preparation is key!

When you book your flight, try to plan a schedule that will minimise your stress:

  • Consider taking a flight where there will be fewer people on board (and thus more room for you to lie across the seats if necessary).

  • Contact the airline prior to booking your flight and let them know that you suffer from back pain. They may be able to provide you with more information on which flights are least crowded.

  • If possible, try to limit your down time between in-flight connections or layovers.

  • If you can help it, don't schedule a flight that will require you to wake up extremely early.

During the journey

Once you've done some preparation, you can start thinking about how you will keep pain at bay during the flight itself:

  • Some kind of lower back support - e.g. a back roll or a couple of pillows from the flight attendant - can be a good way to prevent slouching and keep your spine straight, minimising lower back pain.

  • Bring a pillow to support your neck. Travel pillows can often be purchased at the airport if you forget to bring your own.

  • If you are unable to position your legs at a right angle while seated on the plane, ask for something (pillows, blankets) to prop your feet up and keep your knees at a right angle. Doing so keeps stress off the lower back.

  • If you have long legs, request an exit row or bulkhead seat, as these generally offer more leg room.

  • Ask for an upgrade! Occasionally, airlines will have additional seats with extra leg room available in first / business class, and if you explain your situation, they may upgrade you free of charge.

  • Move around during the flight. Staying still for prolonged periods stresses the spine and can make back pain much worse.

  • See if there is room at the back of the plane to do some quick stretches - these can improve flexibility and ease stiffness. Just make sure you stay in your seat during turbulence!

If you are a Scoliosis SOS patient and you're planning to go on a long car journey or flight, make sure you speak to your ScolioGold therapist and get some advice on what you can do to make your journey as comfortable as possible.

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Schroth Method Exercises

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we've been successfully treating scoliosis patients for in excess of 12 years. Our comprehensive ScolioGold treatment programme combines a variety of well-known therapeutic techniques, and the exercises that we teach our patients allow them to manage their symptoms and prevent progression from the comfort of their own home.

One of the fundamental components of the ScolioGold programme is the world-renowned Schroth method, in which our staff our expertly trained. Schroth exercises have helped countless people all over the world to improve their posture and overcome the symptoms of scoliosis (and other spinal conditions). It is named for Katharina Schroth, the German physiotherapist who devised this treatment technique; Schroth was a scoliosis sufferer herself, and having made great progress with her own condition, she eventually opened a clinic.

 

How do Schroth method exercises benefit people with scoliosis?

Our Schroth-based exercises are customised to each patient's unique spinal curvature, as well as their age and physical ability. The Scoliosis SOS Clinic's use of the Schroth method has allowed 88% of our patients to avoid the need for spinal fusion surgery. We also:

  • Use a specific rotational breathing technique to correct spinal rotation and increase the patient's lung capacity

  • Rebalance the patient's spinal position using pelvic corrections and isometric contractions

  • Make patients more aware of their posture on a daily basis, ensuring they have the correct equipment at home and at work to maintain their corrected position

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Examples of Schroth method exercises

Here are just a few of the stretches and exercises that make up the Schroth method:

1. Prone on stool

One of the core Schroth exercises performed in a prone position, facing towards the floor. Depending on the patient's classification, condition, previous medical history and symptoms, this exercise has the potential to correct:

  • A thoracic curve using shoulder traction, shoulder counter-traction and the de-rotation breathing technique
  • A lumbar curve via activation of the iliopsoas muscle

With a different setup, it can also be used to help thoracolumbar curves.

Prone on Stool Exercise

This exercise requires quite a few pieces of equipment including tubes, stools, belts, straps, beanbags and wedges. Watch our patient Isobel perform this exercise during a check-up appointment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic:

 

2. Semi-hanging

This primary Schroth exercise uses gravity to stretch out the spine and relieve pressure on vertebral joints. At the same time, the patient will be applying the rotational breathing technique to flatten the prominent areas of their back, activating their muscles on exhalation to train their body to remember the corrected position when they stop exercising.

Semi-Hanging Schroth Exercise

This is often used as a preparation exercise at the beginning of a treatment session. A set of wall bars (or equivalent) is necessary to perform this exercise effectively.

Watch our patient Nicole, who travelled from Ghana to the UK for scoliosis treatment, practice this exercise with her therapist:

 

3. Iliopsoas on a ball

This is a very patient-specific Schroth exercise that is only suitable for someone with a lumbar or thoracolumbar curve. It works by utilising the activation of the iliopsoas muscle to help de-rotate the affected portion of the patient's spine. This is one of the simpler Schroth method exercises, requiring only a gym ball and wall bars (or equivalent).

Iliopsoas Ball Exercise

Here at the clinic, patients often receive assistance from the therapists using myofascial release techniques to 'mobilise' the spine and help the patient to achieve a straight posture in standing.

Watch our patient Molly from Suffolk perform this exercise:

The Schroth component of our ScoliGold therapy course places huge emphasis on conscious correction of posture throughout daily life, not just during exercise therapy. Education is paramount: throughout your 4-week course, our therapists will help you to learn about scoliosis and your body to ensure that you can recognise an abnormal posture and correct it accordingly.

Schroth therapy combined with a vast number of other techniques has been scientifically proven to prevent progression, improve posture and cosmetic appearance, reduce pain, improve quality of life, and reduce the patient's Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees.

To enrol on one of our Schroth-based scoliosis treatment courses, contact us online or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

Best Sitting Position for Scoliosis

If you've been diagnosed with scoliosis, you may need to analyse certain things that you've never really thought about before. Posture is a great example - do you slouch when you're sitting down? Are you putting excessive pressure on some areas of your body? Do you find yourself suddenly sitting up straight as you're reading this?

Posture is very important regardless of whether you're standing or sitting, but since the average person in the UK spends 9 hours a day sitting down, it may be particularly important to assess your current sit-uation and identify the best sitting position for your scoliosis.

Though your curved spine may make it somewhat difficult to maintain a good sitting position, a few slight adjustments could do you a world of good. Bad posture can expend your energy more quickly than a good posture, so it is better for your health overall if you know the best way to sit.

What is the best sitting position for scoliosis?

The best way to sit if you have scoliosis is by trying to sit back into your chair while keeping your back straight. The weight should be spread out across your buttocks and thighs. Try to stop the pelvis from tilting forwards or backwards by not sitting too far forward in your chair.

It is advised to try and keep your knees lower than your hips and your feet flat on the floor. Try to avoid crossing your legs, as this stops you aligning your body properly and can lead to lower back pain, If possible, try to move frequently, as staying still for too long can make your muscles feel tight and tense.

There are many chairs which can help support your back and improve your sitting position with scoliosis. An ergonomic chair is best for your health. If you do not have one of these, support cushions for the lower back can also help.

Desk exercises for scoliosis patients

If you are one of the many people who spend the working day sitting at a desk, desk exercises are a great way to help relieve any tension. These exercises are especially important if you have scoliosis, as a bad posture for a prolonged period can cause more issues in the future.

Here's a simple desk exercise to help with your sitting position. This should be repeated at 30-minute intervals:

Thoracic Extension at Desk

Thoracic Extension

  • As shown above, a thoracic extension involves sitting forwards in your seat, bending your knees 90 degrees and placing your feet flat on the floor.
  • Next, place the places of your hand and half of your forearm under your desk with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  • Then apply pressure on the desk, while extending your back and rocking for pelvis forward.
  • Elongate your neck and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Click here for more desk exercises to try at work >

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we're dedicated to providing the best possible care for those suffering from scoliosis and similar conditions. To find out what we can do for you, please get in touch with us today.

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