Weight scales and tape measure

Maintaining a healthy weight can be a tough task for people with scoliosis, especially those who find themselves in perpetual pain and discomfort as a result of their condition.

Chronic back pain can slam the brakes on physical activity - even when the mind is willing, you may feel physically unable to get up and exercise, and this can take its toll on your overall fitness.

But that doesn't mean you have to throw the towel in and resign yourself to a life of inactivity. Luckily, there are a whole host of ways for scoliosis patients to stay healthy and keep weight gain at bay.

 

Exercise caution

While it might seem like exercising with scoliosis is putting yourself on the fast track to a bad back, it can actually have the opposite effect - as long as you're careful.

Staying active can be beneficial for your body in a number of ways, helping you stay slim and trim while also keeping your body limber and flexible.

Being smart about the exercises you choose can make a huge difference, so be sure to exercise caution before you exercise your body.

In the weight room, heavy deadlifts are obviously not a good choice for someone with spinal issues. The same goes for other back-heavy exercises, like good-mornings and power cleans. Meanwhile, lower-body exercises like squats and lunges can also put indirect pressure on your spine.

Exercises to Avoid If You Have Scoliosis >>

Even some yoga positions, such as the cobra pose, can cause your vertebrae to rotate beyond the point of comfort. Be smart and avoid exercises that are likely to put considerable strain on your spine.

Strengthening your core can be a great way to alleviate discomfort, while regular stretching can also help to reduce back pain.

 

Young at heart

Running can put a lot of stress on the spine, jarring the body every time your feet hit the ground. As such, going out for a jog or hitting the treadmill may be a bad idea - but that doesn't mean cardio is completely off the table.

Most gyms have elliptical trainers (cross trainers) that allow you to exercise in a fluid motion without the jarring effect of running. Similarly, the stair climber is also a good way to get your cardio fix while reducing the impact on your spine.

Another great way to maintain and improve cardiovascular fitness with scoliosis is swimming. The buoyancy of the water minimises impact on the joints while still providing resistance, making it the ideal cardio exercise for scoliosis sufferers.

Swimming with Scoliosis >>

That being said, these exercises can be challenging for people with severe scoliosis, particularly those with reduced lung capacity. If you are unable to complete the above exercises, it may be worth considering less strenuous options, such as walking or aqua aerobics.

 

Smoke signals

If you're a smoker, another great way to stay in shape is to - you guessed it - give up smoking.

Quitting smoking can help improve lung capacity by as much as 10% within nine months, and this can help considerably when it comes to exercise. Qutting will also improve your circulation, providing additional energy and reducing fatigue.

However, quitting smoking isn't without its challenges. In addition to being a notoriously hard habit to break, it can also lead to some initial weight gain.

This is due to the fact that smoking suppresses your appetite and speeds up your metabolism. Meanwhile, it can be tempting to use food as a replacement for cigarettes - many ex-smokers find themselves snacking to fill the void.

That being said, while you may gain weight at first, giving up smoking will pay dividends in the long run - both in the gym and from a pain standpoint. A 1999 study by the Division of Clinical Epidemiology at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal found that smoking can exacerbate back pain, particularly in scoliosis sufferers. All the more reason to bin the cigs!

 

You are what you eat

Finally, and perhaps most obviously, diet plays a huge role in weight management. Even with plenty of exercise, you can't out-train a bad diet - so be sensible when it comes to junk food and unhealthy snacks.

If your scoliosis is severe and limits your ability to exercise, a healthy diet is vital in maintaining a healthy weight. Removing exercise from the equation puts you at a disadvantage to begin with, making a healthy diet all the more important.

What's more, certain foods are beneficial for reducing scoliosis symptoms, while others can only amplify those symptoms. Food and drinks that are rich in salt, sugar or caffeine can have a negative effect on calcium absorption, while alcohol can also contribute to poor bone density.

Avoid foods rich in additives, such as ready meals and fast food. Meanwhile, try to limit your consumption of soft drinks, tea, coffee and alcohol. Eating organic meals and fresh fruit and veg will give your body a fighting chance of fat loss, while also giving you a simultaneous boost in the bone department.

Best Diet for Scoliosis >>

If you would like to explore the possibility of non-surgical treatment for your scoliosis, please contact the Scoliosis SOS Clinic to arrange a consultation.

Job interview

Whether you're applying for a job, sitting in an interview or getting ready for your first day, if you have a medical condition like scoliosis, you may be wondering whether you ought to let your employer know about it.

Read on to find out more about what you are - and aren't - obliged to share with the people you work for. Please note that the information in this article pertains to UK law only - the law may be different where you live.

 

The legalities

The Equality Act 2010 was passed to help protect jobseekers from discrimination. It forbids employers from asking questions about your health or sickness record before they offer you a job.

As a result of this legislation, you are not required to disclose any health information at either the application or interview stage. If your potential employer does ask any questions about your health and you are then turned down for the role, you may have grounds for unlawful discrimination.

On the other hand, disclosing information after you've received a job offer may be beneficial, as employers have to make reasonable adjustments for people who disclose health issues that are protected under the aforementioned Equality Act.

 

The application process

When you're applying for jobs, you do not need to mention any illnesses or disabilities on your CV, even if they were the reason you left a previous role. If your medical conditions have created gaps in your employment history, there are ways that you can fill these in with activities such as periods of study, working on your own projects, or temp work.

However, if medical conditions have contributed to extensive or repeated gaps in your resumé, you may wish to omit employment dates from your CV altogether and replace them with the length of time you worked within each role.

 

The interview

During your interview, you can decide how much you wish to say about your medical condition(s). If you do have any noticeable gaps in your work history, prepare an explanation that doesn't disclose any health issues. You can use 'personal reasons' as justification for leaving a role, but make sure these are framed in a positive way that matches what you're now applying for.

Focus on why you want the role and how your skills and abilities will enable you to make a meaningful contribution.

 

FURTHER READING: Can You Work with Scoliosis?

 

If you feel that your scoliosis is preventing you from following your preferred career path, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic may be able to help. Get in touch to arrange a consultation.

Our Treatment Courses   Book an Initial Consultation

Calendar with menstruation date circled

Idiopathic scoliosis tends to start developing between the ages of 10 and 15 - in other words, around puberty. Unfortunately, this is also when most young girls start menstruating.

As many women will tell you, this stage of your life can make you feel insecure and confused even without the added complication of a curved spine. If you're developing idiopathic scoliosis at the same time, it can make those negative feelings even more intense.

Will scoliosis affect my periods?

There has been very little formal scientific research into how or why scoliosis affects menstruation, although we do have plenty of anecdotal accounts from girls with scoliosis who claim to have experienced irregular periods.

That being said, there is some research to suggest that girls with idiopathic scoliosis may (on average) start having periods slightly later than girls without scoliosis.

The female body can be confusing at the best of times, and the experience of one girl with scoliosis might be completely different from the next. If you do feel that your period is irregular, speak to your GP to see what they can do to help you.

Does scoliosis increase period pain?

It has been suggested that scoliosis can amplify the amount of period pain one experiences. Brooklyn Abortion Clinic lists scoliosis among a number of skeletal conditions that may increase feelings of period pain.

It's not especially clear why this should be the case, but it may have something do with the amount of pressure placed the spine as your uterus contracts and swells during menstruation. This, along with hormonal changes, is what causes back pain even for girls with healthy spines when they're menstruating, so it stands to reason that it could be even worse for girls who already experience back pain as a result of scoliosis.

Do you feel like scoliosis is interfering with your life, causing you pain and making you feel insecure? If so, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic may be able to help.

Our Treatment Method   Book a Consultation

Camping with scoliosis

Camping is a great way to get in touch with nature and really enjoy the great outdoors. It can help give your mental health a positive boost, and it gives you a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

For people with scoliosis, though, camping can cause a lot of worries. Will I be able to sleep? Will I be able to go on long walks? What if I need to go home?

Roughing it in the wild without any pain or discomfort might seem like an impossible dream for those of us with curved spines, but there are a few things you can do to help make your camping experience more enjoyable.

1. Keep doing your scoliosis exercises. As you know, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic promote an exercise-based system of scoliosis treatment. If you are able to, we recommend that you visit us for treatment before going on your camping trip. Our ScolioGold therapists will teach you some vital exercises that you can do to improve your mobility and comfort while you are away.

2. Take a few extra pillows with you. Having extra pillows will make it easier to support the parts of your body that are aching when you go to sleep. Try placing a pillow between your legs to help straighten your spine. Aligning your spine in this way can really help to reduce pain for the next day.

3. Take a soft, thick roll mat or blow-up bed. This will put something between your back and the ground when you lie down to go to sleep. If you're already struggling with back pain due to your scoliosis, lying on uneven ground is likely to accentuate it further. Outdoor stores sell plenty of comfortable, lightweight mats and inflatable beds that are ideal for camping trips.

4. Pack lots of blankets and warm clothes. If you're camping in the summertime (at a music festival, for instance), this tip may seem a little counter-intuitive. But even if it's hot during the day, the temperature will drop dramatically after dark, and sleeping in cold temperatures can cause your muscles to tense throughout the night. Keeping warm during the night will help you to achieve a better range of motion when you wake up in the morning.

5. Ensure you have comfortable hiking boots with ankle supports. Investing in a high-quality pair of hiking boots will prevent knee and back pain during the day. It's generally advised that you wear them in a little before embarking on your trip into the great outdoors - you don't want to give yourself blisters!

6. Choose your backpack wisely. There are hundreds of backpacks for you to choose from. Spend some time trying different ones on and getting an idea of what's comfortable for you. If your shoulders or hips sit unevenly, adjust the backpack straps to compensate. This will help the backpack sit straighter on your back and reduce discomfort throughout the day.

7. Take painkillers with you. One drawback of venturing into the wilderness is that you can't just pop to the shops if there's something you've forgotten. If you think your scoliosis pain will become too overbearing to sleep through, put some painkillers in your rucksack before you set off. Your doctor can advise you on the best medication to take with you on your camping trip.

8. Have a backup plan. Although you might find camping a breeze for the first night or two, things may get harder the longer you stay away from home. It's OK to end the trip early if needs be, but be sure to have a plan in place that will enable you to get home if you decide you've had enough. This will put your mind at ease and allow you to enjoy your camping holiday to the maximum.

Learn Some Scoliosis Exercises >   Book a Scoliosis Consultation >

Scoliosis and Weightlifting

Weightlifting has the potential to be quite a damaging pastime for people with scoliosis, but it can also be beneficial in the correct circumstances. If approached carefully, weight-based exercise may help to improve muscle balance and reduce the visibility of one's spinal curvature.

In this blog post, we'll discuss a few things to bear in mind if you have scoliosis and you plan to start lifting weights.

Weightlifting might be painful - don't push yourself too hard!

Would-be weightlifters with scoliosis need to be mindful of their condition at all times. Start with small weights and simple exercises to gauge what's comfortable and what isn't. Work with a comfortable weight for the first few weeks, and then step up your weight a little bit and see how you feel.

Don't do anything that causes you pain - you should avoid certain back-focused exercises like deadlifts, squats or lunges unless you are certain you can handle them. Bending and straightening your back while carrying weight is likely to cause injury. Speak to your GP to discuss what weightlifting exercises are appropriate for your condition; you could also enlist the help of a personal trainer to guide you while you're lifting.

Focus on exercises that stretch your back muscles instead of compressing them.

Here are some weightlifting exercises you may wish to try if you have scoliosis:

  • Pull-down cable exercises
  • Rowing
  • Seated exercises

Stretching and strengthening the muscles on the concave side of your spinal curve can gradually help to improve mobility and reduce pain. That's because the muscles on the convex side usually do most of the work for you back - these are muscles that have been trying to keep your back upright since you developed scoliosis.

Convex and Concave Sides

The concave muscles, however, are often shorter and atrophied (weaker), so working on these muscles can help to correct your scoliosis curve.

How can Scoliosis SOS help?

If you have scoliosis and you're interested in pursuing weightlifting or another physically-demanding leisure activity, we recommend coming to our clinic for a consultation to establish how severe your condition is. Our consultants will be able to offer advice about the best types of exercise for you and what you can work towards in the future.

Our 4-week ScolioGold treatment courses are ideal if you want to work towards being able to lift weights (or to carry on weightlifting, if this was a hobby you enjoyed before you were diagnosed). Click the button below to get in touch and book your initial consultation.

Contact Scoliosis SOS >

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