Scoliosis refers to the sideways curvature of the spine, deviating from the normal curve from the top of the shoulders to the lower back. There are many ways to reduce the symptoms of scoliosis, both surgical and non-invasive, but this condition cannot be completely “cured”. Nevertheless, treatment is necessary to minimize symptoms and increase the quality of life of the patient.
Scoliosis limits a person’s physical capacities to some extent, particularly when it comes to sports. Unfortunately, there are certain sports that aggravate scoliosis and should be avoided, such as football and gymnastics. But despite that, there are many other sports that people with scoliosis can safely play.
Before you engage in any sports, however, be sure to get a green light from your trusted scoliosis consultant.
Here are the best sports to play with scoliosis.
Swimming is a full-body workout that exercises many parts of the body, especially the legs and arms. It is highly beneficial for people with scoliosis because it helps strengthen the spine without putting excessive pressure on it, making it a safeandadvantageous exercise.
If you have thoracic scoliosis, however, avoid competitive swimming. This type of exercise, while great when done recreationally, can cause the spine to flatten and lead to curve progression if you swim for hours every day.
Soccer is the best team sport for patients with scoliosis, especially for children and adolescents. This sport helps strengthen the core muscles, which, in turn, maintains the normal curve of the thoracic spine and prevents flattening caused by thoracic scoliosis. Apart from that, soccer is a great way to develop agility, coordination, discipline, sportsmanship, and many other athletic qualities.
Cycling is a great low-impact sport that is also a great form of cardiovascular exercise. Although, people with scoliosis should be mindful of their posture while cycling. Always keep your back straight and your head in line with your shoulders to avoid unnecessary pressure on your back.
Moreover, avoid off-roading cycling as much as possible. Cycling on extremely uneven surfaces can cause jolting that can put stress and pressure on your spine, thereby increasing pain. If you want to cycle regularly but don’t have easy access to bike-friendly paths, a stationary bike is a great alternative.
People who love to dance but suffer from scoliosis can keep pursuing their passion despite their condition. Apart from being a great form of aerobic exercise, dancing is an excellent way to express yourself. Hence, you shouldn’t drop dancing altogether just because of your scoliosis, but there are certain limitations that you have to keep in mind.
Dancing is safe to do for people with scoliosis, but dance moves with repeated back bends should be limited as much as possible. This maneuver is not recommended for scoliosis patients because it can aggravate the spine, possibly causing curvature progression and increasing pain.
People with scoliosis are told to avoid lifting heavy objects, but with proper form, strength training can be highly beneficial. For starters, weight lifting builds muscles that support proper weight management and tone the body. More importantly, it helps build stronger muscles that can better support the spine.
However, avoid repetitive squats and lifting weights above the head to avoid compression on the spine. It is also crucial to add weight gradually so that you won’t cause stress on your spine, which can cause scoliosis to get worse.
Cross-country skiing is a fun outdoor sport that exercises your entire body without causing harm to your compromised spine. The gliding movements in skiing reduces the shock to your vertebrae. And since you move both sides of your body, this sport helps create a more balanced spine.
Tips for playing sports with scoliosis
1. Avoid impact sports, resistance training, and exercises that use only one side of your body.
2. Consult with your healthcare provider before engaging in any type of sport or exercise.
3. Do regular stretching to relieve pain and discomfort.
4. Avoid pushing yourself to your limits. Exercising to the point of exhaustion is especially risky for people with scoliosis.
5. Even if you don’t play sports, get regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and support your spine.
6. Perform exercise that improve core strength to build the muscles that support the spine.
People with scoliosis can still play sports, albeit with a limited capacity. Nevertheless, engaging in sports is important for your overall health–physically, emotionally, and mentally. Check with your specialist to find out which sports you can play with minimal risk to your spine. If you want to play a specific type of sport, let them know so that they can make an individualized plan for you.