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Exercising with scoliosis


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I have scoliosis (two curves, about 27 degrees each) and while it's been a problem in the past, I have been mostly pain free since I started going to a chiropractor a few years ago. I don't have a big weight loss goal, I really just want to tone up and rid myself of love handles. For the past few weeks, my main exercise has been using an elliptical at moderate to high intensity about five hours a week. Within the past few days I've been having lower back and hip pain and have consequently stopped using the elliptical.

Are there better exercises for people with scoliosis? Is the elliptical scoliosis safe, but the intensity of my workout too high?
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What do your doctor and/or chiropractor say?

#2  
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My doctors' answers always involve pain killers. My chiropractor told me to stay away from running and jumping, but outside of that to do whatever I want if it doesn't cause pain.

I've had similar issues but never any hip pain. Ask your doctor what about your scoliosis is causing the pain. Mine ended up being that the curve was putting odd pressure on the cartilage discs and causing them to bulge and I was able to work out again using Aspirin and/or Advil and Icing my back after workouts to keep the inflamation(bulging) down. Spinning and Cycling also help in that they keep the pressure of the low back, along with mixing walking into longer ellipitical workouts helped to. I changed from running to elliptical because my physical therapist said it would be lower impact on my back, so to the best of my knowledge its "scoli-safe"...as I like to say.

Hope that helps!

#4  
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I had a spinal fusion 20 years ago. It didn't give me much trouble until I reached 36. Since then I've had slipped disks and a variety of other problems (and I've been down the prescription pain killer route).

My advise is to find the best Personal Trainer/Biomechanics Trainer you can and get a personal program designed just for you. You may have muscles that aren't working properly etc and it's best in my opinion to get good advice so you can continue exercising as exercise is the best key to keeping pain at bay. 

#5  
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Hi Jstoll91

I have mild scoliosis.  After several years of lower back pain I discovered pilates - I have 2 -3 sessions a week & am now mostly pain free.  I have an occasional hip twinge which goes when I my pilates instructor sets specific movements to release my hip.  I also love rolling on a roller or a spiky ball to release tight muscles....I take a spiky ball to bed with me when I am sore - makes a huge difference.  I've also started KMI (Kinesis Myofascial Integration).  Here's a link if you're interested

http://kmiperth.com/experiencing-kmi/kmi-expl ained/

I have found this particularly effective in combination with the pilates - I'm getting stronger & learning how to move properly - new habits....have been feeling fabulous lately....

Best wishes

#6  
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I am a physical therapist assistant, and unfortunately, not particularly crazy about chiropratic measures ONLY because SOME providers perform corrective treatments without proper warmup prior to, and proper muscle strengthening exercises after the correction to keep the correction in place. In my option, you can't fix a problem and expect it to stay fixed without strengthening the supporting cast of players. As far as your pain, maybe start at square one, focus on core stability and ditch the elliptical for now. Try recumbent bike. Also, maybe look at soft tissue restrictions.

Along with scoliosis, I have bulging cervical and lumbar discs and hip degeneration which limits my activity.

I do lats and free weights 3x a week with daily 30min swimming and 15-30 water aerobics. When I can't swim, walking is my standby.

#8  
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The problem with disc pathology is always pain, discomfort in cervical, lumbar, and extremities. I would highly recomend seeing physical therapy, especially over Chiropractic treatments. Again, this is just my option, no disrepect to your chiropractor. Just a difference in thinking
#9  
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Do you have neck/back pain, numbness, or pain, or tingling in your arms and legs or feet?

just speaking from my own experience (i don't have scoliosis, though): i don't like the elliptical in general because it's just awkward - i found it limited my foot placement & weight distribution, & did funny things to my knees. seemed to encourage a forward lean, too. i wonder if simple walking might offer more of an opportunity to control your gait, etc (with guidance from a good PT).

doing too much of any single exercise probably isn't a good idea for most people.

Fods
Aug 05 2012 21:29
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#11  
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Hay jstoll91, I have a 23degree curve at my lower spine, and had surgery for the major curves when i was 11. I dont remember my exact degrees but they were bad! My spine has been fused and i have a double metal rod all the way through. I find exercise helps so much, ive been so busy the last 3months with 2jobs and im only really exercising once a week (90mins of kickboxing). I struggled alot with pain, but i see a chiropractor just once a month now ( It started once a week 3yrs ago when i met this chiro and she is THE BEST - i had no help from surgeons/docs/anyone after such a major op! i saw my surgeon once and he retired! The physios saw me about 4 times and then just stopped seeing me, i was in agony aswel! So i chose to just deal with the pain and do what i could till i was made an appointment with this chiro by a fam member!)

I find the elliptical too much twisting for my spine if i use the arms, and my chiro said to avoid the arms also because the twisting doesnt help the scoliosis ive already got. Plus the limited movement makes it harder. If i go on one now i just find one where i can hold on the front handles instead of holding the moving bars.I dont think the high intensity is bad, maybe you need to keep away from that for now and mix up your workout?

I find weights are good, low weights high reps (recommended again by someone in the gym and my chiro) and I also find things such as zumba dancing  amazing for cardio, toning and just feeling good (i used to go regular for a couple years before my busy work periods started).

Ive maintained a steady weight over the past 3yrs with zumba,kickboxing and the odd gym session of weights and my back has been great. Now im busy with work im gettin more pains as ive lacked in exercise, but im starting pt sessions for the first time, and with a 'caveman' trainer (dont know if you guys know about this new craze lol) who is also a physio, cus i want to strengthen up my back more and do something which will assist me in kickboxing)

So my advice, 1. keep exercising (i can really feel the difference when i slack) 2. keep seeing your chiro for the pain (i would probably never stop seeing mine-ever.lol) and 3. find a personal trainer who understands your condition (if you can find one who is a physio too then that will help you so much, in my opinion, theres nothing worse talking to someone about helping you who actually doesnt have a clue with what you are dealing with to help you!).

Hope this helps in some way,

Good luck!

 

My scoliosis is a "S" with the pain focused on the lower left.  I tend to agree that the pain worsens with no exercise.  Currently I see the chiro but am curious as to how the long the correction can maintain itself, just as the physiotherapist poster commented.  For myself, the best antidote to the pain is yoga.  I find that the Gaiam dvds work well but I would love to hear about others.  I lift weights while inline skating.  Some might find this crazy, but I find weights boring otherwise.  I tend to go around the block a few times early in the morning.  I'd like to try the spiky ball thing.  I just put a pillow between my knees for sleeping....a habit formed from pregnancy, otherwise I end up very sore or unable to sleep.  Thanks for all the replies to the original post, its helping me to hear what others have to say as I just stumbled on this.

#13  
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Hi Lisa

You can find spiky balls on ebay though you may like to start with a softer version initially.  Tennis balls are effective also.  The aim is to cause the muscle to release.  Lie on the floor with the ball under your hip on a sore bit.  The trick is to breathe deeply and 'melt' over the ball - sink into it as you breathe out.  Repeat as often as you like then move the ball to another sore bit.  You can control how much it hurts (& feels better afterwards) by propping yourself on your arms.  You might like to discuss technique with an instructor....my destructions are most inadequate.

http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/items/_W0QQ_sopZ12 ?_nkw=spiky%20ball&_fromfsb=0&_trksid =m270.l1313&clk_rvr_id=372180086551&a dpos=1t3&MT_ID=79&crlp=13072682077_55 &tt_encode=raw&keyword=spiky+ball& ;geo_id=31

Hilpalxx

Hi Lisa, hope you have found some helpful information here. Just adding my own experiences here too which you might find helpful.

I have mild scoliosis and I also fell on my coccyx from quite a hight, which has weakend my back muscles and also made them tighten around my spine. Over the last 2 years this has caused me great pain and finally got off the painkillers after about a year as I don't want to depend on them.

Firstly, I agree with ptatob, you need to see a physical therapist. They can help identify which muscles are not working as they should. I find that the stationery bike and treadmill and to an extend the elliptical trainer tend to make my lower back ache and they identified that I basically have a "weak butt". Which means that my back is trying to take some of the load that my butt is not. I now have some butt strenghthing exercises in addition to attending Pilates 2-3 times a week. If you do start doing pilates, be careful when choosing the right pilates instructor and make sure they are fully aware of your problems so they don't push you too hard and always listen to what your body is telling you. 

Good Luck  Cool

I had scoliosis, and my curves were 75, and 35. Now after having the spinal fusion my curve is about 15. I exercise a few times a week and always use the elliptical. In fact, it's my favorite machine to use. As long as I have a smooth stride and don't move so jerkily I'm fine. It also helps  my back not to hyper-extend my knees, so I bend them slightly.

It is an informative post.

 

Cervical fusion

I've had the most luck with starting out slow and building up. I theorize that I've built up the muscle strength to better support my back as I work out. I only learned that I have scoliosis about a year ago. I started with a recumbent bike after discovering I had a herniated disc and a torn disc. The bike I chose had preset exercise modes that varied in resistance levels and time lengths. I built up do doing the highest levels for both over several weeeks. Then I moved on to a Weight Watchers stability ball workout DVD. I had learned the value of the stability ball by doing Physical Therapy for my back injury. I stayed with the Weight Watchers stability ball DVD for a while until I felt it was fairly easy and then discovered the Jillian Michaels DVDs. I never thought I'd be able to do anything high impact, however, I began with the 30 Day Shred DVD and simply modified the more high impact moves. I completed the 30 days a few weeks ago and moved on to the Ripped in 30 DVD. I'm still taking it slow and only manage 2-3 days a week of exercise, but I find the rest days in between allow my back to recover. These are only 20-30 minute workouts but they're intense and I like just giving it my all for those 20-30 minutes and having the rest days in between. I've been pleasantly surprised at how effective the dvds have been and the results I've been getting. I still suffer from back pain and have my "bad days" but ultimately have discovered that strengthening my core and back muscles have reduced my symptoms quite significantly.

According to my yoga instructor (who is not a trained medical professional, but an awesome yoga instructor!), yoga and pilates practices for people with scoliosis.

I hope you find something that works for you!

This is a nice thread and lots have shared their experiences already. I think the good way to not hurt yourself or feel any pain is to ask your trainer of what's the suitable program for someone who's got a condition like you have. I am sure he/she knows what type of program to give you. Take care.

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