WHAT IS SCOLIOSIS?
Scoliosis is a structural alignment of the spine that is considered to be “outside the range of normal”, usually involving some amount of rotation or bending of the spine.
Interestingly, about 30% of normal adults have some amount of scoliosis, and individuals with mild scoliosis don’t have any more pain than the average person. That’s 3X MORE COMMON THAN LEFT-HANDEDNESS!!! And we're pretty sure we’ve left that behind as a disease a long time ago.
There are also groups of people where scoliosis feels like it IS more than just a normal variant. Those main groups are:
1. More significant scoliosis that creates challenges for the body - muscle fatigue, stiffness, limited mobility, sleep disturbances
2. People with mild scoliosis who love or need to participate in activities where symmetry is an advantage (ex: lifting, running, cycling, swimming, sitting, standing, etc)
SYMPTOMS OF SCOLIOSIS
an observable curve in the spine that stays when you bend forward or backward
Notably asymmetrical posture in the hips or shoulders
Fatigue in the muscles of the spine with sustained activity
Stiffness after sustaining one position (sitting / standing / lying) for extended periods
NOTE: A common screening test at the pediatrician’s office is bending forward to touch your toes and then straightening back up. While this is a place to start to investigate further, it is NOT a substitute for a full evaluation by a movement expert like a physical therapist
HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP?
If we assume that scoliosis in adults is NORMAL (like high arches), then it isn’t really something you FIX. It is something you MANAGE. The key factors are a good exercise program, good ergonomics at home and work, and making sure the muscles and tissues of the spine stay loose and pain-free.
At Anti-Fragile PT, we love to help people develop programs that help them manage the little things in our bodies that keep us from feeling our best. We can even work to help you decide which floor exercises, stretches and self-massage techniques can be optimal to keeping your spine loose and limber. In addition, we can also help with desk ergonomic set-ups, running or gait analysis, bike fittings, and more to help people find a balanced position that ISN’T SYMMETRICAL. We get great joy in helping folks who have normal variations in body type and structure feel healthy and successful with their long-term fitness goals and pain management.
NOTE: In recent times, there has been a development of programs that can help with more severe cases of scoliosis. This involves work with children and young adults to try and correct more significant curvatures or rib cage imbalances before bones are done fully developing.
We wholeheartedly support these type of programs, but in the US, some are time and resource intensive. Want more information? Visit schrothmethod.com for a great resource for kids with more severe cases of scoliosis.