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 >

De Novo Scoliosis

As we explained in our blog on the subject, there are two forms of adult degenerative scoliosis. Today, we're going to take a closer look at the condition known as de novo scoliosis.

What is de novo scoliosis?

De novo scoliosis is a sideways spinal curve that appears in adulthood. The difference between de novo scoliosis and degenerative scoliosis is that de novo scoliosis affects patients who have never had scoliosis in the past.

'De novo' means 'new', and this name refers to the fact that the condition occurs later in life, during the patient's adulthood rather than their adolescence. It is uncommon for de novo scoliosis to arise before the age of 40-50.

Causes of de novo scoliosis

As bones get weaker and the ligaments and discs in the spine become worn due to age-related changes, the spine may begin to curve.

In most cases, de novo scoliosis is caused by the ageing of the facet joints and discs in the lower (lumbar) spine, leading to the vertebrae slipping out of place and the spine losing its shape. However, a number of other conditions - including spinal canal stenosis, compression fractures, and osteoporosis - have been known to contribute to the occurrence of de novo scoliosis.

Diagnosing de novo scoliosis

A physical examination and X-ray scan / imaging techniques are required to diagnose de novo scoliosis.

Common symptoms include:

  • Muscle fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Feelings of stiffness, numbness and weakness in the back and legs

Posture may also be affected.

In many cases, de novo scoliosis is not properly diagnosed, especially when it does not cause a significant amount of pain. A thorough inspection of the patient's medical history helps to determine whether any underlying issues have contributed to its development.

De novo scoliosis treatment

The best treatment for this condition can depend on the nature of the condition and the symptoms experienced by the patient, with both non-surgical and surgical interventions available.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we use our own physiotherapy programme called ScolioGold to treat scoliosis sufferers of all ages. Physical therapy can improve the patient's mobility, boost strength and correct abnormal posture, and ScolioGold therapy combines a variety of proven non-surgical techniques to achieve noticeable, lasting results.

More About ScolioGold >    Book a Consultation >

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.

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.

Can Scoliosis Get Better?

When you or someone in your family are diagnosed with scoliosis, it's normal to wonder if the condition will simply get better on its own. No one wants to go through a potentially arduous treatment for an illness that will eventually resolve itself once things have taken their course.

Unfortunately, scoliosis does not usually get better on its own. Very minor spinal curves may improve with time, but this is very rare and only happens in the mildest cases of scoliosis. In fact, when left without treatment, large scoliosis curves tend to progress further, getting worse and worse until they're causing potentially life-threatening problems. The most severe scoliosis curvatures can lead to restricted cardiovascular and respiratory movement.

What can I do to stop my scoliosis getting worse?

You can prevent your scoliosis from getting worse by seeking treatment from your GP. They will usually refer you to a hospital, and the medical professionals there may recommend bracing, physiotherapy, surgery, or any combination of these.

When you are diagnosed at a young age, it is typically recommended to wear a back brace until your body has finished growing. The brace will help to prevent the scoliosis curve from progressing any further as you grow.

When diagnosed with scoliosis as an adult, physiotherapy and surgery are the most commonly-recommended treatment routes. Only the most severe cases of scoliosis (40-50° and over) require surgical intervention. Typically, the procedure used is spinal fusion surgery, which involves attaching rods, hooks, wires or screws to the curved part of the spine in order to help straighten the spine over time. A bone graft is then used to 'fuse' the spine into the correct position.

How can physiotherapy help with scoliosis?

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we offer specialised physiotherapy courses for those with scoliosis and other spinal/postural problems. We find that many of our patients do not want to undergo the painful process of surgery and would prefer to follow a physiotherapy treatment plan to help improve their scoliosis.

There are a variety of different non-surgical methods that can be used to help reduce the curvature of the spine - here are just a few of the techniques we use to combat scoliosis:

  • Schroth method - This method, developed by Katharina Schroth, was introduced in 1921 and has been used ever since. It comprises a series of stretches and exercises that combat the symptoms of scoliosis.

  • FITS Method - With an individually-adjusted programme for each patient, this method uses posture patterns to help improve scoliosis.

  • Taping - Kinesio tape is sometimes used to help promote correct muscle movements, which can help reduce the pain caused by scoliosis.

  • Hydrotherapy - Hydrotherapy is a great way to treat certain symptoms of scoliosis without the strain of doing exercises on dry land.

Visit our ScolioGold method page to read about all the techniques we use to treat scoliosis here at the clinic.

Get in touch with Scoliosis SOS today to arrange a consultation and find out more about our treatment courses.