Child sitting in W position

Anyone who has scoliosis will be well aware of the importance of posture and sitting correctly when it comes to spinal comfort.

However, did you know that there is one position in particular that can be particularly damaging when it comes to children's spinal health?

That position is the so-called 'W position'.

 

What is the W position?

First things first, you're probably wondering what the W position is. While the name may not be familiar, the pose most certainly will be.

A favoured position for many children and even some adults, the W position is where a person sits flat on their rear with their legs folded underneath, yet spread out to each side.

The result creates a 'W' shape from foot to foot - not too dissimilar to the Virasana ('Hero Pose') in yoga.

 

Why is the W position problematic?

While the effect of the W position on the body is a matter of some debate. It's becoming an increasingly hot topic among parents, particularly due to its perceived impact on children's development.

A number of osteopathic experts have reported that the W position can cause the lower back to arch. It's also been said that it can put pressure on lower body joints such as the hips and knees, weakening the core muscles as a result.

The widespread concern has seen the story picked up by numerous news outlets across the UK in recent years, including national publications like the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail.

However, conflicting reports have been published that suggest it has no bearing at all on spinal development - for example, see this article from Today.com.

 

Is there cause for concern?

Despite the mixture of opinions on the matter, this is one of those scenarios where it's better to err on the side of caution.

If a simple adjustment in sitting positioning might improve your child's posture and spinal health, it's undoubtedly a precaution worth taking.

A weakened core can have a notable impact on agility, sporting performance (such as running and jumping) and general balance.

Meanwhile, evidence suggests that the W position can also increase the likelihood of hip dislocation and may even lead to a curvature of the spine.

 

Correcting the W position

If you notice that your child is routinely sitting in the W position, try to get them out of the habit.

Encourage them to sit with their backs against a solid surface for support, and instruct them to sit with their legs out in front of them.

Ideally this would be on a chair; however, if floor sitting is preferred, provide pillows for increased comfort.

SEE ALSO: How to Check Your Child for Scoliosis >>

Scoliosis and rugby

The Rugby World Cup is currently taking place in Japan, and as a result, global interest in rugby is running high.

Success in the Rugby World Cup often translates to an increase in the winning country's participation figures, as more and more people look to explore the sport in the wake of the tournament.

But is rugby a wise sport to take up if you have scoliosis?

 

Can You Play Rugby with Scoliosis?

Rugby is one of the impact sports that scoliosis patients are often advised to avoid, primarily due to the physical nature of the game.

After all, a game of rugby can be pretty hard on even the healthiest body, let alone one that's hindered by the effects of a spinal curvature.

However, with determination and a sensible approach, even high-impact sports like rugby needn't necessarily be off-limits for people with scoliosis.

 

Childhood Scoliosis and Rugby

In the five years after England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, participation figures for 7 to 13-year-olds skyrocketed by an incredible 78%.

The impressionable 7-13 age group coincidentally overlaps with the age at which scoliosis is usually diagnosed (most cases of idiopathic scoliosis are diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 15).

Children and teenagers can be very receptive to sporting trends, and some parents may find themselves in a tough spot if their child wants to take up rugby yet also suffers from scoliosis.

Many scoliosis parents, in the interest of protecting their child, would simply forbid them from participating entirely. However, this isn't necessarily the only feasible course of action.

In fact, depending on the extent of the child's spinal curve, they may well be able to enjoy a fully active lifestyle, even if their preferred activity is a contact sport like rugby.

 

Case Studies: Our Rugby-Playing Patients

At Scoliosis SOS, we've encountered numerous rugby enthusiasts who were faced with the unenviable proposition of giving up their beloved sport due to scoliosis. Here are some of their stories...

Marcus with rugby ball

Marcus Pond, 20

"I knew I didn't want the surgery and was terrified of losing my flexibility at such a young age...why would you have major risky surgery if you can just do a few simple exercises?"

Read Marcus's Story >

 

Rugby player Hannah

Hannah Chapman, 15

"Since being at the clinic I have benefited immensely. My pain has decreased and I know how to stand with a corrected posture."

Read Hannah's Story >

 

Rugby player Patrick

Patrick O'Kane, 37

"I feel stronger and more confident about how my back looks, and I am looking forward to getting my life back on track. My pain has gone and I have been able to go back to playing rugby, something I never thought would be possible."

Read Patrick's Story >

 

Patient Video: Ben from Australia

Ben Stanton, another keen rugby player, came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic from Sydney in 2016. Watch the video to find out what he had to say about his Scoliosis SOS experience.

 

Scoliosis Treatment with Scoliosis SOS

Whether you're a young aspiring sportsperson longing to take to the field or an older veteran of the sport eager to keep playing, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic has a proven track record for helping rugby lovers with scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine.

We don't believe that scoliosis should be a life sentence that banishes you to the sidelines. While it may be an obstacle, it can often be overcome if you tackle it head-on with the help of Scoliosis SOS.

Our Treatment Method   Contact Scoliosis SOS

World spine day

These days, the calendar is overflowing with specific dates dedicated to a cornucopia of themes, recognising everything from 'World Chocolate Day' to 'Talk Like a Pirate Day'.

While events like those may seem a little unnecessary (although any excuse to eat chocolate is fine by us), one date that's likely to be of particular interest to scoliosis patients is World Spine Day.

 

What is World Spine Day?

Celebrated annually on the 16th of October, World Spine Day aims to raise awareness of back pain and spinal conditions.

World Spine Day is a recognised date on every continent, with health professionals, schoolchildren and patients alike taking part across the globe.

A key part of World Spine Day is promoting the importance of physical activity, good posture and healthy working conditions - all in aid of maintaining a healthy spine.

 

A Global Issue

According to World Spine Day's own statistics, it's estimated that a billion people worldwide suffer from back pain, and that it's the single biggest cause of disability on the planet.

Anyone with scoliosis will likely be well aware of the importance of spinal health, and so this special day dedicated to raising awareness is a welcome addition to the diary.

 

Get Involved with World Spine Day

World Spine Day has over 500 official organisational supporters across the globe, ranging from the NHS to the Hong Kong International Hula Association.

However, you don't need to be part of a larger organisation to participate. In fact, just about anyone can show their support and help to raise awareness of scoliosis and spinal health in general.

 

How Can I Support World Spine Day?

If you have scoliosis or have seen the effects of scoliosis first-hand, why not share your story with others?

Tales of triumph over adversity are great for providing hope and inspiration to others in a similar situation.

Simply sharing your own success story or telling people what living with scoliosis is really like can have a profound effect on others and could provide motivation to someone in need.

About the Scoliosis SOS Clinic   Book a Scoliosis Consultation

International Day of the Girl

Celebrated annually on 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child is a globally-recognised date that marks the achievements of young women all over the world and promotes female empowerment while also highlighting the challenges that girls face.

 

Scoliosis in Girls

There are many different types of scoliosis, but overall, the condition is significantly more common in females than it is males. This is particularly true of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

According to the Scoliosis Association (UK), roughly 5 out of 6 AIS patients are female - that's over 80% of recorded cases.

 

Scoliosis Women Worldwide

While scoliosis does affect a disproportionate number of females in relation to men, women globally have managed to overcome their spinal curves and live healthy, normal lives. We know because we've seen it first-hand!

Women from all over the world have come to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic to benefit from our non-invasive treatment methods.

Take mother and daughter Pia and Lova, who travelled all the way from Sweden to our clinic in London, UK. Despite a 33-year age gap, both Pia (47) and Lova (14) both returned to Sweden with dramatic improvements, proving that you can always improve your quality of life, regardless of age.

 

Active Women Worldwide

Our non-surgical treatment courses haven't just helped our female patients to live more comfortably. We've also helped women across the UK to hang onto their sporting passions and live a more active lifestyle.

From footballers and rugby players to jockeys and kickboxers, Scoliosis SOS has helped all sorts of young sportswomen to overcome their condition and stay active.

 

Live a Better Life

But you don't need to be an athlete to feel the benefits of our ScolioGold treatment programme. Many girls and women have come through our doors simply looking to better their health and improve their quality of life.

Sara Capacchione came to our clinic when she was 9 years old. Her older brother had already been diagnosed with scoliosis, and when Sara's spine started to develop a curve, her family were keen to nip it in the bud. Here's her story:

 

By actively battling back against the negative effects of scoliosis, young women across the world have been able to live their best lives in spite of their spinal curvatures.

If you'd like to find out more about ScolioGold treatment, please call the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on 0207 488 4428.

More Success Stories   Book a Consultation

Hyperkyphosis

Hyperkyphosis (often just called kyphosis) is a curvature of the spine that occurs in the upper back, resulting in a hunched or stooped appearance.

It affects approximately 8% of the general population, and while it is most common in older people, it can affect men and women of all ages.

Watch our video to learn everything you need to know about hyperkyphosis:

Kyphosis is sometimes known as 'dowager's hump', particularly if the patient is getting on in years. 'Hunchback' is a somewhat derogatory term for a person with kyphosis.

 

Hyperkyphosis vs Scoliosis: What's the Difference?

Hyperkyphosis and scoliosis are two different curvatures of the spine.

We treat both conditions here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and they can occur together (see kyphoscoliosis). But they're not the same thing.

Kyphosis vs scoliosis

The difference lies in the direction of the curvature:

  • Hyperkyphosis: Causes the upper* region of the spine to curve forwards, making the patient's upper back look unusually rounded or hunched.

  • Scoliosis: Causes the spine to curve sideways, forming a 'C' or 'S' shape.

*Excessive forward curvature of the lower spine is known as hyperlordosis. Read our Curvatures of the Spine guide for more information.

 

How Does Hyperkyphosis Affect the Body?

Kyphosis patients can usually be recognised by their visibly hunched backs, but this is just one of the many ways in which hyperkyphosis can affect one's body.

Kyphosis patients

Other symptoms of kyphosis include:

  • Back pain
  • Stiffness and discomfort
  • Reduced mobility / flexibility
  • Fatigue
  • Poor body image

But that's not all. A severe kyphotic spinal curve can even interfere with the body's most fundamental inner workings, such as the respiratory and digestive systems.

> How does hyperkyphosis affect breathing?

If hyperkyphosis is not treated and the spinal curve continues to get worse over time, there is a risk that it may eventually begin to adversely affect the patient's ability to breathe. This happens because especially severe spinal deformities inevitably end up warping other parts of the skeleton, including the rib cage; this leaves the lungs with less room to inflate, resulting in compromised breathing.

> How does hyperkyphosis affect the digestive system?

Severe hyperkyphosis can also impact on the patient's ability to digest food normally. Again, this is due to the knock-on effect that a pronounced spinal curve can have on other parts of the body. In the case of the digestive system, problems may arise because the patient's internal organs are being squashed together, potentially obstructing the passage of food through the intestines. Acid reflux is also fairly common among people with advanced hyperkyphosis.

> How does hyperkyphosis affect the nervous system?

In some cases, the distortion of the body due to hyperkyphosis can end up impinging on a nerve. Depending on where in the body this happens, nerve compression can lead to:

  • Persistent aches/pains
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Certain body parts feeling weak
  • Loss of bladder/bowel control

The good news is that all of these consequences are relatively rare and do not arise in the majority of mild to moderate cases of hyperkyphosis.

 

What Causes Hyperkyphosis?

Kyphosis can develop for a number of different reasons, and some forms of this condition are more preventable than others.

Here are some of the most common causes of hyperkyphosis (and who they're most likely to affect):

  • Bad Posture - If you persistently slouch forward or lean back when seated, you may notice that your spine starts to develop a visible curvature over time. Desk workers are particularly prone to the sort of postural problems that can lead to hyperkyphosis.

  • Scheuermann's Disease - Scheuermann's disease typically occurs during the growth spurt that accompanies puberty. If you have this condition, it means that your vertebrae (the bones that make up your spine) develop into a wedge shape, creating a forward spinal curve. Learn more about Scheuermann's disease here.

  • Congenital Issues - While rare, it is sometimes the case that a baby's spine will develop incorrectly in the womb, and this can mean that hyperkyphosis is present from birth. This is called congenital kyphosis, and when it does occur, it usually begins within the first 6-8 weeks of embyronic development.

  • Osteoporosis - Human beings (especially women) often lose bone density as they get older, a condition known as osteoporosis. The resulting bone weakness can lead to a range of different problems, including curvature of the spine. Learn more about osteoporosis here.

  • Spinal Injury - Certain accidents and injuries can impact the spine, resulting in hyperkyphosis in some cases.

 

How to Prevent Hyperkyphosis

While hyperkyphosis can be treated, it is often impossible to prevent it from developing altogether.

Scheuermann's kyphosis and congenital kyphosis cannot be prevented with lifestyle changes. Good posture will reduce your risk of developing postural kyphosis, and a healthy diet and weight-bearing exercises can help to prevent kyphosis from developing as a result of osteoporosis.

If you want to prevent hyperkyphosis, here's what we recommend:

  • Avoid rounding your shoulders and make an effort to observe your posture when sitting, walking or standing.

  • Perform exercises which increase bone mass - rebounding on a trampoline is very effective for this, and is even used by astronauts preparing for space travel.

  • Eat a diet rich in Calcium and Vitamin D, such as spinach, fatty fish and fortified foods.

  • Perform exercises to improve your posture at home, especially if you work in a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time or lift heavy objects. Here are some exercises to get you started.

  • Seek physical therapy from a qualified professional who will be able to identify the cause of your poor posture.

 

Hyperkyphosis Treatment

As with scoliosis, there are a number of different hyperkyphosis treatment methods in use, including both surgical and non-surgical options.

Congenital Kyphosis Treatment

The most prevalent treatment methods are:

  • Bracing - During adolescence, bracing may be required to stunt the progression of the patient's kyphosis in moderate to severe cases. Bracing aims to ensure that the degree of the curvature does not develop any further than it already has. The patient may be required to continue wearing the brace until their spine stops growing at around 16 years of age. Learn more about how a hyperkyphosis brace works here.

  • Pain Management - As is the case for many health problems, pain management is often a central part of hyperkyphosis treatment. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can help to relieve the aches and pains that derive from having a curvature of the spine. If the patient is in a lot of pain, stronger pain relief medications may be prescribed.

  • Physical Therapy - Though it does require some work on the patient’s part, physiotherapy is a great way to treat hyperkyphosis. Physical therapy programmes such as our own ScolioGold method can straighten the back, reduce pain, and improve the patient's quality of life in general - see before and after photos here.

  • Surgery - If the curvature becomes so severe that the patient is having difficulty going about their day, surgery may be recommended. Spinal fusion is the standard surgical procedure for hyperkyphosis - this involves fusing the vertebrae together to correct the spine's curvature. Method rods, screws, hooks and bone grafts are used during the operation to fuse the bones together. The operation takes 4-8 hours, and a back brace may need to be worn for up to 9 months while your spine heals.

 

Matthew from Exeter: A Kyphosis Case Study

Matthew Ellison came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in 2018. Our treatment course helped to reduce his back pain, and he actually grew by 3.8cm during his time here!

Read Matthew's story in full here. Matthew is just one of the many hyperkyphosis patients we've helped - if you'd like to find out more about our physical therapy courses, please give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

Learn Some Hyperkyphosis Exercises   Book Your Initial Consultation

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