According to current reports, there is as many as 20% of young athletes that are diagnosed with scoliosis. Indeed, sports and scoliosis are often seen together.
A lot of parents are concerned about allowing their children with scoliosis to engage in sports. Exercise is vital to any effective treatment regimen. It helps prevent muscle stiffness, builds core muscles, particularly those that strengthen the spine and improves overall health and well-being. This fact is backed by the studies that were published in the Journal o Chiropractic Medicine, which stated physical activity is beneficial for those with scoliosis.
Sports Dos For Scoliosis
Some of the sports that individuals with scoliosis can play and engage in include:
- Swimming. This has been a recommended sport and hobby continuously for scoliosis through the years. It is an ideal complement that doctors prescribe because it builds strength in the spine without unnecessary weight. It also uses most, if not all, major muscles of the body in a more balanced way compared to other sports. However, doctors agree that scoliotic patients should be on the side of caution when it comes to competitive swimming.
- Children and adults can benefit from soccer, especially those with curvatures in the mid-back. When playing, the core muscles contract to retain the spinal shape of the thoracic area, which further prevents flattening.
- Cycling is a low-impact sport that provides a complete cardiovascular exercise without putting much impact on the spine and the scoliosis curves. The only limitation for this sport is off-road cycling, which can impinge the structures inside the spine.
- Strength Training. Improving strength is vital for an individual with spinal conditions because strong muscles are needed to support the spine. But it is just as important to do it the right way. Increasing weight should be done incrementally to prevent more stress on the spine, which would, in turn, worsen the spine condition. Lifting weights above the head and squatting are complete contraindications.
- Flexibility is crucial for people with scoliosis, which is why it is very beneficial to incorporate stretching into their routine. Frequent stretching alleviates tension in the back muscles and restores movement. If correctly performed, stretching can help counter the spine’s abnormal curves. Just do your research and learn what stretches are not appropriate for your specific curvature. If you’re doing yoga, for instance, find alternative poses that would prevent you from hyper-extending or over-twisting your spine.
Sports Don’ts For Scoliosis
Playing doesn’t cause scoliosis, but it can exacerbate the condition. It’s okay to play recreationally but not at a competitive level, as there will be many hours involved in competitive training. Most often, the doctor doesn’t recommend you to stop playing a particular sport altogether, but the young are usually told to limit the frequency of playing sports that:
Hyper-Extend The Mid Back. In the young athletes’ category, the highest frequency of scoliosis is seen among gymnasts and dancers. When they dance or perform gymnastics, they are almost always doing backbends that results in rotation of the vertebrae towards the hollow or concave side of the spine, leading to exacerbation.
Cause The Spine To Be Compressed. Whenever a child jumps, hops or runs, his spine is compressed. In the young with scoliosis, repeated high-impact activities put a lot of stress on the spine, which can undoubtedly increase the scoliosis curvature over time. Football is a sport where many young athletes are seen with increasing curves. Squatting, cheerleading, weightlifting overhead, and long-distance running are also some activities that should be limited, if not avoided.
While some activities should be restricted or avoided, scoliosis, and engaging in sports, do go hand in hand. Thus, allowing children and teens with scoliosis to continue playing their favorite sports but with the appropriate limitations, can be critical to an effective treatment.