What to Avoid When You Have Scoliosis

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we do our best to help people with scoliosis live the lives they want. Our scoliosis treatment courses aim to reduce the condition's impact on the patient's lifestyle, and we've achieved some truly heartwarming victories over the years - for instance, we've enabled numerous people to enjoy their favourite sports again, and we made sure that one young man was able to follow his dream of joining the army.

Having said that, there are some activities that scoliosis sufferers are better off avoiding (usually because they put unnecessary pressure on the spine, which can cause the curvature to get worse). Here are 5 things we recommend steering clear of - please remember that all cases of scoliosis are different, and that you should consult a medical professional before engaging in any activities you're unsure about.

1. Looking down at your phone

When you bend your neck forward to stare down at your smartphone (adopting a posture sometimes known as 'text neck'), the effect on your spine is as though your head were significantly heavier than it actually is.

Of course, we're all glued to our smartphones these days, but we're not saying that you have to put your device down for good - just be aware of your posture when you're using your phone, and try to avoid bending your neck forward if possible.

2. Lifting heavy objects

Lifting large weights puts pressure on your spine, and if it's already curving to one side, the extra pressure can make that curvature even more pronounced.

Scoliosis sufferers should endeavour to avoid lifting heavy objects alone. If you find yourself tasked with carrying a large weight, ask someone else to help you with it.

3. Certain exercises

Exercise is an important ally in the fight against scoliosis - indeed, our own ScoliGold treatment method is primarily exercise-based. However, certain exercises and stretches can do more harm than good when you're coping with a curved spine.

Read our blog post on Exercises to Avoid for more information on this subject.

4. One-sided / impact sports

Some sports are more problematic than others for scoliosis patients. To assess whether or not you should get involved in a particular sporting activity, ask yourself:

  • Will I be colliding with other players? Sports like rugby, hockey and lacrosse are best avoided for this reason.

  • Will I be putting more stress on one side of my body than on the other? Examples of one-sided sports include golf and racket games like tennis and badminton.

For more information on this topic, read our blog post on Sports to Avoid.

5. High heels, flip-flops, and other shoes that don't provide much support

When you're purchasing footwear, it's important to look for shoes that will give your body the support it needs. High-heeled shoes can put your spine under a lot of stress, but so can overly flat footwear such as flip-flops. Try to wear shoes with good arch support (orthotics/insoles can help with this).

If you are worried that your scoliosis will prevent you from participating in your favourite activities, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to arrange an initial consultation - we may be able to help you beat your condition.

UK Snow

With the weather set to take a turn for the worse yet again this weekend, we want to make sure that all Scoliosis SOS patients are ready and prepared for the Beast from the East 2!

Another cold snap may soon be upon us, so please make sure you take the necessary steps to look after your back and stay healthy.

 

Very cold weather can affect anyone - however, certain people are more vulnerable than others.

You should be particularly careful if:

  • you're 65 or older
  • you cannot afford heating
  • you have a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease
  • you're disabled
  • you're pregnant
  • you have young children (newborn to school age)
  • you have a mental health condition

 

Keeping your home warm can be key to remaining fit and healthy.

Please read the following tips on how to keep your home warm:

  • If you're not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition (such as heart or lung disease), heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F)

  • Keep your bedroom at 18°C all night if you can, and keep the bedroom window closed

  • During the day, you may prefer your living room to be slightly warmer than 18°C

  • If you're under 65, healthy and active, you can safely have your home cooler than 18°C if you're comfortable

  • Draw your curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts

  • Get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional

 

More top tips for coping with the 'Beast from the East 2':

  • Make sure you wear sensible, correctly-fitted shoes. With the ground covered in snow and ice, it is easy to slip and hurt yourself. ScolioGold patients all know how important it is to keep up your exercises to maintain your corrected posture.

  • Be sure to stock up your cupboards and make sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Staying healthy in the cold weather will mean you are able to exercise and prevent pain and progression caused by your scoliosis.

  • Making sure you stay warm is very important as there has been significant evidence to suggest that cold weather can cause an increase in back pain. An increase in back pain can significantly reduce quality of life and can often result in a downward spiral of events.

For further information on how to look after your back this winter and reduce pain cause by scoliosis or hyperkyphosis, please call Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428.

Mattress For Scoliosis

We all know how important it is to get a good night's sleep, but that's a lot easier said than done when you're suffering from scoliosis. Although some scoliosis patients don't notice their condition too much at night, many others experience pain and discomfort that can make it difficult to doze off.

A mattress can't cure your scoliosis, but you may be able to ease some of your discomfort by choosing the right mattress to sleep on.

 

Choosing a scoliosis-friendly mattress

When you have an abnormally curved spine, it's incredibly important to choose a mattress that gives your back the support it needs. This is so you can distribute your weight evenly, which should relieve the pressure on your twisted spine. 

With this in mind, we would recommend investing in a good medium-to-firm mattress that doesn't give too much when you lie on it.

If you're finding that your mattress is too firm for your liking, you can always use a mattress topper for added comfort. You'll want to pick a topper that is around 2 to 3 inches thick; any thicker and you start to lose the benefit the firm mattress provides.

 

Other factors to consider

We recently shared some tips for sleeping with scoliosis, and in that blog post, we explained how pillows and sleep positions can affect your quality of sleep (both positively and negatively). Once you've found the right mattress for your condition, you will hopefully see a big improvement in your ability to sleep throughout the night - however, if you are still struggling, consider these other mitigating factors:

  • Do you have too many pillows? Pillows can elevate your head too much, which can put pressure on your neck, shoulders, and back.

  • Are you consuming too much caffeine before bed? This can make it difficult to drop off and disrupt your sleep pattern.

  • Try to go to bed at the same time each night. This will teach your body to follow a sleep routine, which has been proven to aid sleep quality.

 

Where can I find the right mattress for my scoliosis?

There have been plenty of tests conducted to determine which mattresses are most suitable for scoliosis patients. If you're looking to invest in a mattress that will help with your discomfort, you may find these links helpful now that you know what you are looking for:

If you have any questions about your condition - from the best mattress for scoliosis sufferers to how you can begin to treat your curved spine - we at Scoliosis SOS would be more than happy to help. Get in touch with our expert team and book your initial consultation today.

Sleeping with scoliosis

Getting a good night's sleep can be a challenge when you suffer from scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine). Some scoliosis patients are kept awake at night by the pain and discomfort that stems from their condition, while others simply struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position. Whatever the reason, scoliosis can often make it very difficult to nod off!

With that in mind, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic would like to share a few tips that we hope will help sleep-deprived scoliosis sufferers to rest a little more peacefully tonight:

1. Get the right mattress.

It's important (even if you don't suffer from scoliosis) to find a mattress that provides adequate support for your body while still providing a good level of comfort. You should ideally invest in a medium-to-firm mattress that doesn't give too much when you lie down on it; if you use a mattress topper for extra comfort, try not to go any thicker than 2 or 3 inches as this will negate the support you're getting from the mattress itself.

2. Don't use too many pillows.

Resting your head on a large stack of pillows might sound inviting, but elevating your head too far off the mattress can put a lot of strain on your neck and upper spine. For this reason, it's better to stick with a single pillow that's not too thick.

That being said, those extra pillows can still come in handy: try using them for extra support in spots where your scoliosis is particularly painful / uncomfortable.

3. Find the right sleeping position.

It's well worth taking the time to work out which sleeping position suits you best. Most people sleep on their side, although you may find that sleeping on your back is more comfortable as this spreads your body weight evenly across a larger surface. Sleeping on your front may not be such a good idea as this position forces your back and neck into a slightly unnatural position.

4. Take painkillers if needed (but speak to your doctor first).

While we don't recommend becoming dependent on pain medication if you can possibly avoid it, you may find that certain low-level painkillers help you to nod off a little more easily at night. Visit your GP to discuss the best course of pain relief for your condition, especially if the pain is so severe that it is consistently keeping you awake at night.

5. Practice good sleep hygiene.

There are lots of bad habits that can make it harder to fall asleep (in addition to reducing the quality of what sleep you do get). These habits may well be exacerbating the difficulties your scoliosis is causing you, so here are a few rules that you should try to follow:

  • Stop looking at screens (your TV, your smartphone, etc.) at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
  • Don't drink caffeine or eat foods that trigger indigestion too close to bedtime.
  • Get lots of exercise during the day.
  • Try to go to bed at approximately the same time every night.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we aim to address every aspect of your condition via our unique ScolioGold treatment programme. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.

People living with scoliosis

Just because you've been diagnosed with scoliosis, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to change the way you live. Even individuals with fairly pronounced spinal curves can enjoy a high quality of life as long as their condition is treated and their symptoms properly managed.

If you're concerned about the challenges that come with a curved spine, perhaps we can help to reassure you. Here are the stories of three people who know what living with scoliosis is really like - all of them have undergone treatment here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London and their experiences hopefully demonstrate that, as problematic as this condition can be, it doesn't have to drastically alter your life!

 

Phoebe Kaniewska

15 years old // London

Phoebe was diagnosed with scoliosis as a pre-teen. When her mother noticed that her hips looked uneven, she went to the GP and - after being referred to a specialist - was told she had a 30-degree curve in her spine. The doctor thought she had finished growing, but when she returned a year later she had grown a lot more, and this had caused her scoliosis to progress by 15%.

Phoebe was told that spinal fusion surgery would reduce the visibility of her curves, but as she herself states in the video below, she "wasn't worried about anything to do with looks". She was, however, concerned about the pain that she experiencing; it wasn't too bad to begin with, occurring only when she bent down, but that occasional pain gradually progressed until was a big part of Phoebe's life. She was also concerned about the effect that scoliosis might have on some of her favourite activities - would her spinal curve limit her ability to row and run?

Phoebe came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic for treatment and was pleased to find her pain beginning to recede. We are pleased to report that she is still a keen runner and rower, and when she does experience pain/tension as a result of her scoliosis, she finds that massage and Kinesio tape are great for relieving these symptoms.

 

Rowan Cottee

22 years old // Essex

Rowan first visited our clinic in 2012. He works as an IT technician, and thus spends a lot of time sitting at a desk. This can be bad for anybody's posture, but when you already have a curved spine, full-time desk work can be very problematic indeed.

For Rowan, one of the most important parts of living with scoliosis is concentrating on his posture. The treatment he received here at Scoliosis SOS made him a lot more aware of his posture, and he now makes sure to sit/stand up as straight as possible wherever he is. He returns to our clinic regularly to make sure he doesn't slip into any bad habits, and we've taught him a number of stretches and exercises to help him relieve aches and pains when they occur.

 

Carol Inskipp

68 years old // Cambridgeshire

Carol is a very enthusiastic hiker who frequently goes on treks in other parts of the world. She got in touch with Scoliosis SOS because she was suffering from what she describes as "conspicuous" scoliosis with "a lot of pain".

Scoliosis posed a number of problems for Carol, not least the possibility that she might have to hang up her walking boots. Her doctor informed her that, while she'd had a good run, it would not be a good idea for her to carry on putting stress on her body by walking miles and miles over rough terrain.

Here's what she had to say after completing a treatment course at our clinic:

"My pain disappeared, my back looked much better. Friends said so, family said so...the pain's gone."

When the above video was filmed, Carol had recently returned from a trek to Nepal, where she camped and used tree branches to help with her stretches!

Worried that scoliosis will have a big impact on your life? Contact Scoliosis SOS today to discuss your condition and arrange a consultation.