What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a 3-Dimensional curvature of the spine. The curvature is typically in the form of an “S” or “C” shape – double or single curve, respectively.
‘Idiopathic Scoliosis’ is the most common type of scoliosis meaning the underlying cause is not known. This type of scoliosis is most commonly developed in adolescent years, and it is a progressive disease. Without treatment, the scoliosis can worsen until the growth plates close, and most cases will maintain this certain degree of curvature until later years in life when spinal degeneration occurs, commonly caused from menopause and/or osteoporosis. A one per cent increase in the scoliosis degree per year is common from this stage, so it may not affect you straight away, but it can have detrimental effects 10 to 20 years later.
Another common type of scoliosis is referred to as ‘De Novo Scoliosis’. This type of scoliosis can occur in adults when there has been no previous history and is caused by degeneration due to age or an injury.
How do I know if I have scoliosis?
Posture checks are extremely beneficial to complete regularly so that a diagnosis can be made as soon as possible and therefore interventions are quickly administered appropriately. The best way to check your posture is to have someone look at you from the front, side and back in a bra/tight singlet (females) or shirtless (males). Things to look out for:
- Uneven shoulders
- Waist asymmetry
- Uneven shoulder blades
- Rib hump (when bent over)
- Back pain
If any of these features are seen, go directly to your general practitioner for x-rays and a clear diagnosis.
Early intervention is key, therefore if you are diagnosed with scoliosis, do or don’t have pain or can see a change in your posture, then exercise is key! The worse the scoliosis becomes, the greater the need for other interventions such as spinal surgery.
General exercise can help to increase or maintain strength of a scoliosis patient however this may not be enough. There are 2 well-researched and known methods that are specific to scoliosis rehab and these are The Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis (SEAS) and Schroth.
These exercise treatments help to correct the spine, where muscles are utilised to create a mirror-image of the scoliosis to help “straighten” the spine. Once this alignment is achieved, traditional exercises can be implemented to help strengthen and stabilise the spine in it’s “straighter” position. These methods also cover rehab for kyphosis, both structural and functional.
The main goals of this type of exercise are to improve posture, manage pain and stabilise the spine. Improving posture is the main outcome as the mirror-image exercises can help balance one’s asymmetries, i.e have a cosmetic effect, and in turn can help improve one’s self-confidence. Pain can also decrease as there is less strain on the muscles and joints. In some cases, a decrease in the curvature has been found from Scoliosis specific exercises alone, however the goal is to stabilise the spine and decrease the likelihood of progression. Other methods such as bracing can have a greater effect to improve the degree of the spine.
Before posture SEAS trainingAfter posture
If you have noticed a postural change or have been diagnosed with scoliosis, call or book in to see Angela, our Exercise Physiologist who is trained in both the SEAS and Schroth methods.
Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology – 1300 964 002
** Did you see Princess Eugenie’s scar on her back as she wedded Jack Brooksbank? Princess Eugenie has scoliosis and had spinal surgery to correct it. She embraces and thanks for having early treatment so that she has good posture and less complications now.