Today I want to provide a full guide to how to manage Scoliosis, a subject that I personally know a great deal about. Not as a gym instructor, although I do, but as somebody born with Scoliosis.
Dam my back hurts.
Not a surprise really.
As I already have shared with you, I was born with Scoliosis.
Worse still, a double curvature.
For most of my life it was kept under control by a very thorough regime. So much so, I was able to become a gym instructor, ultimately the owner of a chain of gyms.
Alas following my eye problems, 2 retinal detachments and a multitude of operations, my back for the first time in my life became a serious problem. Pain 24 hours a day. Lying down, sitting, walking all hurt. Pain on a level of over 75 out of a 100 at best. It affected everything I did, stopping me from doing many things. It got to the point that it was taking over my life.
Despite my utter contempt for taking medicine, I ended up taking Tramadol, and using morphine patches. I had Facet Joint injections, where an injection is made into the small linking joints of the spine, the Facet joints. But the pain persisted and my woes continued.
You get to the point where you say ‘enough is enough.’ I thought back to the early part of my life where I was told the chances were overwhelming that I would end up in a wheelchair in my teens. You see I was born with Scoliosis. Not a prospect that either myself or my parents could accept. I went on to follow a very specific, very thorough regime which, thank god ensured, I remained mobile and untroubled through my teens, into my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, until now in my 50’s I was experiencing maybe what had been expected for me back then. So, my solution was obvious, if not easy, and that was to revert to my old regime.
What are you reading this for?
Maybe you are a student asked to research Scoliosis.
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis refers to a curvature of the spine in all three planes, which is side to side, front to back and rotating. As the spine curves and twists, it turns the ribcage around and this changes the shape of the body. The curvature can occur in any part of the spine, or in more than one part. The most common regions affected are the chest area (thoracic scoliosis) and the lower part of the back (lumbar scoliosis) or a combination of both.
Scoliosis is where the spine twists and curves to the side. A person with scoliosis will have a C- or S-shaped curve in their spine. S-shaped curves, also called “double curves,” will tend to worsen over time, as I learnt to my detriment. C-shaped curves are less likely to worsen.
In many cases you have a visibly curved spine leaning to one side, uneven shoulders where one shoulder or hip sticks out, frequently accompanied by back pain. Think of the hunchback of Notre Dame. Any sideways — or lateral — spinal curvature of at least 10 degrees, as measured on an X-ray of the spine, is considered Scoliosis. However, that small curve size would not show signs or symptoms. As the curve progresses to 20 degrees or beyond, there is an increased chance that the person or an observer, such as a parent or teacher, might notice abnormalities such as clothes hanging unevenly or the body tilting to one side. My curve was measured recently at 35 degrees. I remember as a child how embarrassed I was that I so obviously had a raised left shoulder. Unkind friends called me the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
How is Scoliosis identified?
Features of Scoliosis include:
• One shoulder is higher than the other
• One shoulder blade sticks out more than the other
• The waist looks uneven
• Leaning to one side
• Hips look uneven
• Hump(s) in the back on bending forwards
• Girls may find that one breast appears more prominent than the other
• If in a wheelchair, it may be becoming uncomfortable and the head may be tilted to one side
• Clothes do not hang properly
• Sitting balance may be affected
• Potentially migraines
• Problems with the heart and lungs, leading to shortness of breath and chest pain over time, impairing heart and lung function.(worse case scenario)
The following sentence is what put the fear of God into me and got me to once again adopt my routine:
“On average, people with scoliosis suffer a 14-year reduction in their life expectancy, due to strain on the heart and reduced amount of oxygen supplied to the body. (6) Scoliosis is also associated with lung impairments, headaches, shortness of breath, digestive problems, chronic disease, and hip, knee and leg pains.”
Types of Scoliosis
In around 8 in every 10 cases, the cause of Scoliosis is unknown. This is called Idiopathic Scoliosis. Idiopathic Scoliosis can’t be prevented and isn’t thought to be linked to things such as bad posture, exercise or diet. Your genes may make you more likely to get it, though, as it sometimes runs in families.
Less commonly, Scoliosis may be caused by the bones in the spine not forming properly in the womb – this is called congenital scoliosis and is present from birth; an underlying nerve or muscle condition, such as cerebral palsyor muscular dystrophy – this is called neuromuscular scoliosis; wear and tear of the spine with age – this is called degenerative scoliosis, which affects older adults.
It affects about 5 percent of children and adolescents and about 2 percent to 3 percent of the general population.
What to do if diagnosed with Scoliosis
Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with Scoliosis, if so you should see a specialist to discuss treatment options. I hope you have better luck with this than me, because in truth apart from medication and the procedure I had, little else was suggested or provided. Perhaps I was too old, approaching my mid 50’s.
The good news is, that the condition doesn’t always cause significant pain or any other health problems, and many people with Scoliosis are able to live normal lives and can do most activities, including exercise and sports. From my knowledge, I would suggest that by them doing exercise and sports they are doing one of the key activities that prevents this condition from worsening. It is important to remain physically active. My warning is that the effects of Scoliosis can worsen over time. My experience demonstrates doctors have a “wait and see” attitude so no treatment is offered until problems begin to show.
Anyone diagnosed with Scoliosis may find it useful to contact the Scoliosis Association UK (www.sauk.org.uk), a support group, who can provide a good source of information and support, and they may be able to put you in touch with other people in a similar situation to you.
I’m not a doctor or specialists, so I’m not going to be talking about operations, back braces or stuff like that. After all I’ve avoided them through my lifetime and so would hope you can to. Correcting a spinal deformity is a major operation, and trying other alternatives makes a lot of sense, particularly as they can make a huge difference.
You may well be told there’s no definitive cure for scoliosis, and the best way to reduce symptoms and stop it from progressing is to address its underlying cause, eradicating the spinal problem that’s formed at its root. Bracing techniques, anti-inflammatory prescription medications and spinal fusion surgery may be suggested. Outcomes vary, and in truth, from my personal experience, it seems in fact results are pretty much hit or miss. There is stuff you can and should be doing for yourself. in this article I’ll be going into great detail about what you should be doing.
I believe you need to be proactive in doing things to help yourself. I recommend making lifestyle changes, not just because I run a renowned blog in the healthy lifestyle niche, but because the changes I’m going to tell you about have got me back to living a life not restricted by my back. I may have Scoliosis, but no longer am I crippled by it.
So whether you are recently diagnosed, or now suffering badly because of it, young or old, make these same changes. Let me introduce you to my Daily Regime to manage Scoliosis.
Daily Regime to manage Scoliosis
Its time for you to prioritise. Make a decision, to live a life plagued by back problems or one where you keep on top of your health and greatly lessen the impact of scoliosis. Why do I say this? Simple, we live in a world where it seems we never have time to do those things important for our own health. Our normal daily schedules leave us with little free time. But, the key: the key to manage Scoliosis is to do everything on this daily regime. At first this is not going to be easy, it probably will greatly challenge you, but the end results will be worth it.
Life can diminish so quickly in the face of chronic pain and illness. While trying to manage Scoliosis and cope with all the challenges, perplexing symptoms, unpredictable limitations, and exhausting explanations, it can swallow up all else. Yet one of the best ways for living well in spite of it is in finding ways to manage Scoliosis through lifestyle change.
Before I continue I best provide a warning. The information in this article is true and complete to the best of my knowledge. It is intended only as an informative guide for those wishing to know more about how to manage scoliosis. In no way is this article intended to replace, countermand, or conflict with the advice given to you by your own physician. The ultimate decision concerning care should be made between you and your doctor. I strongly recommend you follow his or her advice.
This has to be the starting point. My life demonstrates that exercise is the number one way to manage Scoliosis and keep problems in check. A lifetime of working out in the gym ensured I rarely suffered from any back problems. Due to the diagnosis of Scoliosis at birth, I was introduced to exercising as soon as I could walk. Two years of inactivity due to my eye problems into my 50’s then brought on massive problems. Once returning to exercise these problems then diminished. So, please if you or a loved one have Scoliosis make exercise a priority in your life. Exercise saved me from rigidity and pain. Please, give it a chance and maybe it will help you too.
Exercise is such a taboo word, really, people have images of vigorously sweating people at the mention of exercise. But what I mean by exercise can be as simple as walking.
At the barest minimum you need to be doing 30 minutes of exercise, 5 times a week. Depending on your existing fitness levels and the severity of your back problems at this time, I want you to build up to this amount of exercise and to increase your levels of exertion. You need to start with what is comfortable. My suggestion is to start walking. I know this can be painful, particularly outside on hard pavements. Persistence is key, ultimately your body will strengthen from your walks, and it will, I assure you get easier.
Walking is simply the best exercise you can do. Not just slow walking, but fast. Let me introduce you to Power Walking. Power walking is a low-impact exercise that is simply brisk walking done with powerful arm action, and it is a great exercise to help manage Scoliosis.
To qualify as power walking, as opposed to jogging or running, at least one foot must be in contact with the ground at all times, walking at a speed at the upper end of the natural range for the walking gait, typically BETWEEN 5km/h (3mph) and 8km/h (5mph).
You should walk fast, but not so fast that you feel uncomfortable, you should get your heart rate up but you should never be out of breath.
While power walking it is absolutely essential that you focus on your posture.
Let me give you a brief description of the techniques required for power walking. You want to walk tall, which means your head is up, eyes looking forward, (not at the ground) gazing about 20 feet ahead. Your chin should be level and your head up back straight and body aligned.
Keep your chest raised, and shoulders relaxed (shoulders down, back and relaxed). Bend your arms in slightly less than a 90-degree angle. Cup your hands gently (close your hands in relaxed fist). Swing arms front to back (not side to side – arms should not cross your body.)
Swing your arms faster and your feet will follow. Don’t swing your arms too far away from your body.
Suck your abdominal muscles in and up to tighten them and suck in your buttocks. Hold your butt muscles taut and contracted as you walk by pretending to squeeze a five-pound note between them (it’s silly, but it works) as you walk.
Push off with your toes. Stride out, but don’t lengthen your stride so much that your knees lock, which can lead to injury. Concentrate on landing on your heel, rolling through the instep and pushing off with your toes. Use the natural spring of your calf muscles to propel you forward.
Breathe naturally. As you walk, take deep, rhythmic breaths, to get the maximum amount of oxygen through your system. Walk fast enough that your breathing is increased yet you are not out of breath.
On inclines, slightly shorten your stride, lean forward and pump your arms higher.
Walking is going to help strengthen your body. Ensuring you focus while walking on your posture is going to help strengthen your back.
Even though i have told you the barest minimum you should be doing, something that motivates me every other day at the least is the national recommended number of steps. Walking 10,000 steps every day, which research shows can improve blood pressure, reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, and result in better psychological well-being, weight loss and improved body composition.
Improving your Core Strength is another priority. Core exercises are the best exercises for Scoliosis because core muscles support the spine. Core-strengthening exercises are very important for strength and posture, and they can help work out any muscular imbalances that may have developed as a result of your scoliosis.
The core is where most of the body’s power is derived. It provides the foundation for all movements of the arms and legs. The core must be strong, have dynamic flexibility, and function synergistically in its movements in order to achieve maximum performance.
The core, or trunk, of your body is your center of gravity. Strong core muscles — abdominal, back and pelvis — provide support to your spine for everything from walking, lifting and standing to sitting. Weak core muscles may lead to poor posture, lower back pain and injury.
• Increased protection and “bracing” for your back
• Controlled movement
• A more stable center of gravity
• The Core provides support to your spine for just about any activity.
You can strengthen your core muscles, including your abs, by doing core exercises at home on a cushioned floor surface or on a mat. Perform each of the following core exercises five times. Gradually advance to 10 to 15 repetitions as you get stronger.
Before you start to exercise your body’s core, locate your deepest abdominal muscle — the transversus abdominis — by coughing once. The muscle you feel contracting is your transversus abdominis. Focus on keeping this muscle contracted while doing each of these exercises, and the rest of your core muscles get a workout, too. Once you know how to contract your abdominal muscles, begin the core muscle exercises.
With each exercise, breathe freely and deeply and avoid holding your breath. Coordinate your breathing with the activation of your transversus abdominis to get the maximum benefit.
As you perform these exercises, try to keep your core muscles engaged. Not only will this help you strengthen and build your core, it will help stabilize your spine.
Bridge – Lie on your back with your knees bent (A). Keep your back in a neutral position — not overly arched and not pressed into the floor. Avoid tilting your hips up. Cough to activate your transversus abdominis. Holding the contraction in your abdominal muscles, raise your hips off the floor. Align your hips with your knees and shoulders. Hold this position and take three deep breaths — or for about five to eight seconds. Return to the start position and repeat.
Single-leg abdominal press – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your back in a neutral position. Cough and hold to activate your transversus abdominis. Raise your right leg off the floor — so that your knee and hip are bent at 90-degree angles — and rest your right hand on top of your right knee. Push your hand forward while using your abdominal muscles to pull your knee toward your hand. Hold for three deep breaths and return to the start position. Repeat this exercise using your left hand and left knee. Keep your arm straight and avoid bending more than 90 degrees at your hip.
Single leg absdominal press variation – Opposite hand on opposite knee. Push your right hand against your left knee while pulling your knee toward your hand. You’ll be pushing and pulling across the center of your body. Repeat this exercise using your other hand and leg. Hand on outside of knee. Place your left hand along the side of your left knee. Use your hand to push your leg inward. At the same time, create resistance by pushing your knee away from the center. Repeat using your other hand and leg.
Double-leg abdominal press – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your back in a neutral position (A). Cough and hold to activate your transversus abdominis. Raise your legs off the floor one at a time and rest your hands on top of your knees (B). Push your hands against your knees while using your abdominal muscles to pull your knees into your hands. Keep your arms straight and don’t let your hips bend more than 90 degrees. Hold for three deep breaths. Then return to the start position.
Segmental rotation – Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your back in a neutral position. Cough and hold to activate your transversus abdominis. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, let your knees fall slowly to the left. Go only as far as is comfortable — you should feel no pain, only a stretch. Use your trunk muscles to pull your legs back up to the start position. Repeat the exercise to the right.
Crunch – Lie on your back and place your feet on a wall with a 90-degree bend at your knees and hips. Cough and hold to activate your transversus abdominis. Imagine two dots in a vertical line on your abdomen — one above and below your bellybutton. Imagine pulling those dots together. Use your trunk muscles to raise your head and shoulders off the floor. To avoid straining your neck, cross your arms on your chest, rather than locking them behind your head. Hold for three deep breaths, then return to the start position and repeat.
Quadruped – Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly below your shoulders and your head and neck aligned with your back. Cough and hold your core muscles tight. Raise one arm off the floor and reach ahead. Hold for three deep breaths, return your arm and raise your other arm. Repeat the exercise by raising each leg.
Plank – Lie on your stomach. Raise yourself up so you’re resting on your forearms and your knees. Keep your head and back in line and imagine your back as a tabletop. Align your shoulders directly above your elbows. Squeeze your core muscles. Create resistance by pressing your elbows and your knees toward one another. Neither should move from their positions on the floor. Hold for three deep breaths, then return to the start position and repeat.
Superman – Lie face down on the floor with a rolled towel or a small pillow under your hips to support your back floor with your arms extended in front of you, palms facing down. Tighten your core muscles. Raise one arm a few inches off the floor. Hold for three deep breaths, and return your arm to its starting position. Repeat with your other arm. Now try the exercise lifting first one leg then the other. You need only raise your arms and legs a few inches to begin strengthening your lower back.
Side plank – Side planks challenge your stability and work the muscles along the side of your body. Starting on your left side, raise yourself onto your left forearm. Tighten your core muscles to keep your shoulders, hips and knees in alignment. Align your left shoulder directly above your left elbow. Rest your right arm along the side of your body. Hold this position for three deep breaths before relaxing. Repeat this exercise on your right side.
Spider – With your feet together, stand facing the wall and lean forward to place your hands on the wall at chest height. Tighten your abs and walk your fingers slowly up the wall, rising to your toes as you extend your arms overhead. At full extension, When your arms are fully extended and you have a straight line from your hands to your heels, walk your fingers back down. Repeat.
Tjhese core exercises ultimately will help you enormously, but PLEASE be very careful when first starting. Take things very easy. Over time you will find them easier and incredibly rewarding.
Another important part of your exercise regime is to do stretching which improves muscle flexibility, your range of motion, posture, and relieves stress; it also will help to relieve scoliosis pain.
No matter what kind of stretches or exercises you are doing, pay close attention to your form to prevent straining your back or injuring your spine. When stretching, focus on stretching with your spinal curvature because it will cause the muscles to contract and shorten, helping to correct the muscle imbalance. Only stretch as much as you are able without pain and stop if you feel a strain.
Stretching with scoliosis is most beneficial when done on a regular basis, so start with a few times a week, and work your way up. When performing stretching, it is important that you move slowly and with great care. This type of exercise is not about speed; it is about using and understanding your body. To prevent injury, avoid any moves that require you to twist at the waist or bend too far backward or forward.
Begin by holding each stretch for 30 seconds and repeating it two or three times. As the stretches become more comfortable, you can gradually increase the amount of time you spend in each one.
Neck Stretch – Stand up straight and ensure you do not arch your back. Allow your head to fall forward, and feel your shoulders and neck relax.. Slowly roll your head to your left side, by moving your chin towards your left shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly bring it back to the starting point. Now slowly roll your head to your right side, by moving your chin towards your right shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly bring it back to the starting point.
Chest Stretch – Stand upright with your back straight, knees unlocked, and your legs about hip-width apart and your feet pointing forward. Take your arms and stretch them out behind your back. Bring your palms together and interlock your fingers.. Now with your arms fully extended behind your back, and clasped together, feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your arms back to a relaxed position by your side.
Upper Back Stretch – Stand upright with your back straight, knees unlocked, and your legs about hip-width apart and your feet pointing forward. Raise both your arms straight above you towards the ceiling. Bring your hands together and interlock your fingers, with your palms facing up to the ceiling, parallel to the floor. Extend your arms up as though you were trying to touch the ceiling with your palms. Feel the stretch in your upper back. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your arms back to a relaxed position by the side of you.
Shoulder Stretch – Stand upright with your back straight, knees unlocked, and your legs about hip-width apart and your feet pointing forward. Extend your right hand across your body, palm facing towards you, bringing your arm to rest across your chest. Now place your left forearm on the top of your right forearm, with your fingers pointing up, and your palm facing towards you. Push slowly your left arm back, and turn your head to your right, and feel the stretch in your right shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your arms back to a relaxed position by your side. Now repeat the stretch for the other side.
Low Back Stretch – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Bring your hands together and place them around your shins, grasping them firmly. Now slowly pull both knees up towards your chest while raising your feet off the floor. Bring your knees as close to your chest as you can, feel the stretch in your lower back. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your feet back to a relaxed position on the floor.
Abdominal Cat Stretch – Position yourself on your hands and knees on the floor. Both your hands and knees about shoulder-width apart, your elbows slightly bent. Your hands placed directly under your shoulders, your knees directly under your buttocks. Slowly lower your abdomen down towards the floor, allowing your lower back to bend downward and stretch, feel the stretch in your front abdominal muscles. Hold for 15 seconds. Now slowly arch your back and hold for 5 seconds. Finally sit back on your heels, arms extended straight out and hold for a further 5 seconds. Then slowly release
Gluteus Spinal Twist – Sit on the floor with both legs extended straight in front of you. Take your right leg and cross it over your left leg, placing your right foot flat on the floor outside your left knee. Rest your left elbow on the outside of your right knee, bringing your right arm behind you with your palm placed flat on the floor. Slowly turn your upper body to the right and looking over your right shoulder simultaneously, apply gentle pressure with your left elbow on to the outside of your right knee and feel the stretch in your right buttock. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release. Now repeat for the other side.
Lying Quadriceps Stretch – Lie on your stomach on the floor with your legs together and straight down, hands flat by your side. Bring your right leg up towards your buttocks. Now reach around with your right hand and take hold of your right foot. Pull slowly downwards on your leg to the furthest comfortable position, and feel the stretch in your right quadriceps. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your leg back to the floor and your arm to your side. Now repeat the stretch for the other side.
Lower Back Stretch – Lie on your back, on the floor with your legs together, knees bent. While keeping your head on the floor, slowly pull both legs into your chest, and wrap your arms around the back of your knees. Now pull down on your legs while gradually lifting your buttocks off the floor, and feel the stretch in your lower back. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your leg back to the floor and your arm to your side.
Seated Hamstring Stretch – Sit on the floor with both legs extended straight in front of you. Pull the toes of your right foot towards your shin. Position the bottom of your left leg up against the inside of your right thigh. Place both hands on to your right leg. While keeping your back straight, slowly bend forward at the hips towards your right leg, and feel the stretch in your right hamstring. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release returning to an upright position. Now repeat the stretch for the other side.
Calf Stretch – Stand upright with your back straight, knees unlocked, and your legs about hip-width apart and your feet pointing forward. Take a step forward with your left leg. Place your hands on your hips. Now keeping your feet flat on the floor, your toes pointing forward, slowly bend your legs, feel the stretch in your right calf. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your legs back to an upright position. Now repeat the stretch for the other side.
Quadriceps Standing – Stand upright with your back straight, knees unlocked, and your legs about hip-width apart and your feet pointing forward, facing a wall. Place your left hand on the wall for support. Bend your right knee to raise your right heel up toward your buttocks, and now grasp hold of your foot, with your right hand behind you. Inhale, slowly pulling your heel to your buttock while gradually pushing your hips forward. feel the stretch in your right quadriceps. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your legs back to an upright position. Now repeat the stretch for the other side.
Biceps Stretch – Stand upright with your back straight, knees unlocked, and your legs about hip-width apart , your left hand side facing a wall. Place your right arm on your right hip. Now place your left palm on the wall, at approximately shoulder level, keeping your arm straight, and your fingers pointing back, away from you. Next take a couple of small steps and slowly rotate your body to the right, feel the stretch in your left bicep. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your body back to an upright position, and both hands return to your side. Now repeat the stretch for the other side.
Triceps Stretch – Stand upright with your back straight, knees unlocked, and your legs about hip-width apart and your feet pointing forward. Stand strong with your shoulders back and chest pushed out. Raise your right arm overhead, and bend it pointing your elbow to the ceiling and your palm facing your back. Now position your left hand on your right elbow. Use your left hand to pull your right arm back, and to the left. feel the stretch in your right tricep. Hold for 15 seconds. Then slowly release bringing your body back to an upright position, and both hands return to your side. Now repeat the stretch for the other side.
Another suggestion for the future is to do strength training. Strength training describes any exercise that utilises resistance to work your muscles to the point of fatigue through contracting them against a force or weight. For those of you pretty new to exercise concentrate initially on walking, core training and stretching.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia: ‘A complete strength training workout can be performed with an adjustable barbell and a set of weight disks (plates).Strength training is a common type of training for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. It uses the force of gravity (in the form of weighted bars, dumbbells or weight stacks) to oppose the force generated by muscle through concentric or eccentric contraction. Strength training uses a variety of specialized equipment to target specific muscle groups and types of movement’.
I know a majority of you won’t entertain the Gym, so in the near future I am going to write an article on using Resistance Bands, that anyone could do, no matter how old or unfit. I will provide you with a really good resistance band workout.
Several studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies definitely have an influence on scoliosis, so improved nutrition will help with scoliosis. It is important that you keep your weight in check so that not to put too much strain on your back. Of course the heavier we are the more strain we are placing on our backs, so being at the best weight possible is important. Exercising is certainly going to help you here. Remember the formula for losing weight is simple. To lose 1lb of fat you have to create a deficit of 3,500 calories.
You need to eat a nutrient-dense diet. This means reducing or eliminating the amount of processed/packaged foods in the diet, adding in a variety of fresh whole foods, lowering sugar intake, cutting down on fat, particularly bad fats, and include gut-healing probiotics into your diet. This reduces body-wide inflammation and takes a lot of the burden off of damaged tissue in the spine.
I strongly recommend a prominently plant based diet. In addition, clean lean protein, wild caught fish, cage free eggs and grass-fed/pasture-raised meats. Personally my diet is built around fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes, nuts and meat substitutes such as soy products. Cutting out meat and dairy, all animal products, has helped enormously.
Changing your diet is going to help you!
Pay Attention to your Posture
It is important to maintain good posture when sitting, standing, sleeping and moving. Thinking about how you bend, lift and reach. Posture control is an automated, involuntary habit. We don’t think about standing up and resisting gravity. It is important that you focus on your posture. Equally think about how you stand up from a seated position, bend down, and as my mum always told me, never sit with your legs crossed.
I am now going to give you an exercise to create a new habit of Posture, I call it getting into centre. This is ‘life changing’ and I know will be new for most of you.
This technique will enable you to tap into the power that’s inside you. I refer to this as “the centre”. This power within you can dramatically change anything in your life – literally in a moment. All you have to do is start to use it. Getting into centre is a method of getting your body and mind into peak state and therefore generating peak performance in everything you do. When in peak state your body is strong, your posture perfect.
Choose a quiet place where you will have a minimum amount of disturbance. Stand up straight positioning your feet about shoulder width apart, with your arms hanging lose by your side keeping your back straight and upright. Shake down your body from your shoulders down to your toes. Your body should be comfortable and relaxed. Partially close your eyes, leaving them only slightly open to allow enough light in to keep your brain alert in order to avoid sleep mode to set in.
Turn your entire attention and focus to your breathing. Allow yourself to breathe naturally.
Don’t try to adjust your breathing. Don’t consciously try to make any changes. Just let yourself breath. Keep observing your breath.Notice your breath coming in and out of your body. Does it come in your mouth and out your nose? Notice your chest and tummy rising as you breathe.
Just sit still and pay attention to your breathing. If your thoughts turn away from your breath, simply bring them back.
Now breathe in deeply through your nose, deep down within you from your abdomen, notice your stomach expand. Concentrate on the movement of your breath. Follow it from entering your body through your nose, its path through your body, then its exit out through your mouth. Do this for one minute.
Pay attention to your body now. Notice any tension you feel in your body, your head, face, neck, chest, shoulders, legs, arms, back. Now return your awareness back to your breathing, continue following its path, and now envision that each breath is magically dissolving any tension or knotted places within your body. Every breath you exhale, imagine all that tightness you revealed being expelled from your body. Do this for two minutes.
Return your attention to the movement of your breath. Simply focus on your breathing and note its spontaneous nature, how it takes place naturally and unconsciously. Inhale naturally through your nose; exhale through your mouth. Keep following its path throughout your body. Notice how each breath in expands your tummy out and each breath out makes your tummy recede Now start to notice where the breath path stops. This point at which you feel your breath stops, where it has reached the end of its path, is your point of centre (normally just between your chest and below your neck). Do this for one minute.
Now go back to just giving your centred attention to your breathing. Maintain your attention on your point of Centre. No need to do anything else—just pay attention to your breath. Let your breathing be natural, deep, quiet, and regular. Do this for one minute.
Now breathe in deeply through your nose, deep down within you from your abdomen, notice your stomach expand. Breathe out through your mouth, while putting your tongue between your teeth so that the tip of your tongue is touching the tips of your top teeth, then making a hissing sound, while squeezing your abdominal muscles tightly, and contracting your buttock muscles. Repeat this for 2 minutes.
Stop using the abdomen to breathe and start to breathe in slowly using your chest and the expansion of your rib cage. This is Thoracic breathing achieved by the movement of the rib cage as a whole. Thoracic breathing uses the middle lobes of your lungs through the expansion and contraction of the rib cage. Feel your ribs moving outward and upward, while they draw air into your lungs. Push your chest out as much as you can.
Breathe in slowly and deeply through your chest. Do not use the diaphragm. Breathe out by relaxing your chest muscles, and feel your rib cage contracting, forcing the air out of your lungs. Continue thoracic breathing for one minute.
Breathe powerfully in through your nose. Feel the air moving up from your waist filling your lungs reaching and ending at a point just between your chest and below your neck, your point of Centre.
Straighten your head. Lift your shoulders. Make your body powerful. Charge yourself. Feel the strength rippling through it, so much so that you could walk through a wall. Think of a time when you excelled, when you were at your very best.
Bring the fingers of both hands into your palms, and just exert a little pressure, squeeze your clenched hands, by your side. Return to inhaling deeply from your abdomen and continue to breathe calmly and deeply maintaining your focus on your body. Bring your body upright, become more aligned, feet flat on the floor, your upper body upright; imagine you are being suspended from a thick cord attached to the top of your head, pulling you up. See in your mind’s eye that gravity is flowing through you, where you are weightless, yet grounded.
With eyes closed, gently rock from side to side, from one foot to the other. Use this pendulum motion to help find just the right point of balance for your body. Allow the head to rock until it finds a balance, too. Gradually slow the motion until the body is still, feeling the balance of the head on top of your spine. Concentrate on the pelvis acting as an anchor for the body, with the legs grounding the body to the earth, and the spine resting on top of the pelvis. Feel the spine in alignment, and the head resting on top of the spine. Focus on the shoulder blades and feel them like a crossbar, balanced off the spine. There is no need to hold the shoulders; they are balanced from the spine, and the arms fall in relaxation from the shoulders. How does it feel to find your Centre this way?
After a few minutes, you can consciously allow your breathing to slow down and deepen, and become more quiet and more regular. To support this, you can use an image of an ocean gently flowing onto a sandy beach (inhalation) and gently receding back to itself (exhalation). Let the breath, like an ocean, take its time, and notice the easy, slow transition between exhaling and inhaling.
Now concentrate on your body. Feel how strong and powerful it feels. You feel fully charged, totally energised, and ready for a fantastic day ahead. Take an explosive action. Pump your fists by your side a couple of times and know your engine is started, fully revved and ready to take action.
This may take a few attempts to really get it right but i promise its a worthwhile effort. Frequent use of this exercise will help you considerably.
Improve Breathing Function
Scoliosis can alter the shape of the thoracic cage and diaphragm, limiting your breathing. In worst cases of scoliosis the ribcage becomes gradually more asymmetrical and inflexible, with one side splayed open, and the other side of the ribs squeezed close together, interfering with deep inhalation and exhalation. The inflexibility of the ribcage blocks the efforts of host of helpful breathing muscles, leaving the diaphragm muscle to act alone. This greatly reduces vital lung capacity, leading to an unhealthy pattern of quick, shallow breathing. Breathing exercises can play an important role in improving respiratory strength and endurance.
I am now going to give you an exercise to help improve your breathing, I call it deep breathing to your core.
Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to help de-rotate the spine, strengthen the weakened muscles and lengthen the shortened muscles. This can stabilize or even improve the curve, helping create a more aligned posture and better breathing mechanics than standard treatments.
Find a warm quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Sit in a chair, arms at your sides, legs uncrossed with good posture so that your stomach is not squashed in. Feel any tension in your muscles. Then starting from your feet and working up to your head, relax all your muscles.
Work your way through your entire body. Sense every part. Relax totally. Now pay attention to your breathing, become aware of each breath, its rhythm, depth or shallowness, and its speed.
Position your left hand on the top part of your chest and put your right hand on your abdomen at the navel (belly button), just below your rib cage. As you take a deep breath in, your right hand which is placed on your abdomen will rise higher than the left hand on your chest if you are correctly deep breathing, meaning your diaphragm is pulling air into your lungs.
Exhale all of the air in your lungs. Keep pushing the air out. When you feel like you can’t exhale any more air, pause. Take a slow deep breath (inhale) through your nose more deeply than usual as though you are trying to suck in all the air around you and hold it in for a count of 4 and let your stomach swell forward against your hand as you breathe in, (if you are breathing correctly you should feel your abdomen raise as your lungs fill up with air). Your hand on your chest should only move slightly. When your chest rises more than your abdomen, then you are breathing from your chest (shallow breathing).
Then pucker your lips and exhale through your mouth making a relaxing, whooshing sound like a big sigh, making a sound of relief as the air leaves your mouth) while tensing the abs, tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward until a full contraction has been obtained. Slowly exhale for a count of 8. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible. As all the air is released, softly squeeze your abdominal muscles to totally empty the outstanding air from your lungs. Make sure you have completely exhaled all the air from your body.
Make exhaling slower and longer than inhaling. Exhalation should take about twice as long as inhalation. So if you counted to four when you inhaled, strive to count to eight when you exhale, but don’t force it. Repeat this four more times.
As you are doing this keep your focus completely on your breathing. If you observe other thoughts in your mind, just let them go, keeping your attention on your breathing.
Just keep going as long as you feel comfortable.
When completed open your eyes, shake your body down, roll your shoulders a couple of times, and get on with your day.
That’s it. These suggestions implemented into your life genuinely will help you manage Scoliosis.
You no longer have to live with a life weighed down by scoliosis and the pain and difficulties it brings.
There are things you can do.
All you need to do is begin implementing my suggestions.
The key to scoliosis improvement and stopping progression is being proactive, doing the right kinds of things, many of which are included in this article.Together, these approaches can help reduce scoliosis pain and help the body repair.
Everyday I put these into practice. I start as soon as i’m out of bed by doing my stretching exercises for about 10 minutes. I then spend 5 minutes deep breathing immediately followed by 5 minutes of getting into centre. Then trying to remain in centre I do 30 minutes of power walking. Finally finishing off with 10 minutes of core training. An hour of my life first thing in the morning to manage scoliosis and charge my day. Awesome! Give it a try.
Let me know how this helps, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask by firing off an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always here to help particularly if like me you have Scoliosis.