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Exercising With Scoliosis & Spondylosis
Spinal conditions like scoliosis and spondylosis can cause back pain and stiffness severe enough to make you want to lie down and rest, but that's actually the worst thing you can do. Remaining stationary can actually increase stiffness, and the muscles will become weak from lack of use. Regular exercise, on the other hand, warms up the muscles and increases flexibility and range of motion. Not only can it actually relieve pain, but it can also help prevent pain from reoccurring.
Scoliosis and Spondylosis
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine, while spondylosis is age-related wear on the discs between your vertabrae. According to Saurabh Jain of Living With Cerebral Palsy, scoliosis does not prevent you from participating in exercise. In fact, you can do the same exercises that people without scoliosis do with no ill effect. Spondylosis, on the other hand, can respond badly to high-impact activities. Because the discs that cushion the vertabrae are worn, they absorb less shock, so hard impacts can lead to an increase in pain.
Kamiah A. Walker of Spine Universe suggests doing cardiovascular exercises at least three days per week. To accommodate your spondylosis, avoid high-impact aerobics, running, or any contact sport -- these activities could stress your discs and increase your pain. Walking, cycling or swimming are low-impact enough to provide a workout while protecting your back. Be aware of your posture while you workout, and make sure you don't favor whichever side your spine curves toward. Keep your back straight and your head in line with your shoulders throughout.
Strength training is important to those with spinal problems, as strong back and shoulder muscles can help support the spine. Work with a trainer to learn correct form to avoid aggravating the problem. If your spondylosis is in your neck, strengthen your shoulder and upper back muscles. If your spondylosis is in your back, concentrate on your core and back muscles. The website iScoliosis.com recommends back extensions, upright rows and bent-over raises as exercises that can strengthen the support muscles while improving your posture.
Stretching is one of the most important exercises you can do for both spondylosis and scoliosis. Regular, gentle stretching helps pull the muscles into place, relieve tension that can aggravate back pain and help restore range of motion. A physical therapist can show you stretches designed to counteract the curvature of your spine -- this is different for everybody, so get personalized advice. A simple stretch like touching your toes can help open up the disc spaces and relieve the pain from spondylosis, but be sure not to overdo it. Stretching should create a gentle tension, but it should never hurt. Try a beginner's yoga class to learn moves that will straighten your posture and stretch your back under the guidance of a trained professional.
Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Whatever form of exercise you try, learn from a professional who can teach you proper form and correct bad habits before they injure your back. Start slowly, and always recognize pain as a sign that you are doing something wrong. When it comes to spinal issues, the "no pain, no gain" mantra doesn't apply.
Angela Brady has been writing since 1997. Currently transitioning to a research career in oncolytic virology, she has won awards for her work related to genomics, proteomics, and biotechnology. She is also an authority on sustainable design, having studied, practiced and written extensively on the subject.