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When you might need to modify your strength routine with scoliosis

Strength| Scoliosis Exercise
March 06, 20233 min read

When you might need to modify your strength routine with scoliosis

For most people, even those of us with scoliosis, exercise is extremely beneficial. And when it comes to stabilizing the spine, improving your curve, and reducing back pain, no other exercise is as helpful as strength training. 

But not everyone can, or should, use strength training as their primary form of exercise. There are some cases in which it may not be the best method for helping with scoliosis. If you have the following symptoms or conditions, you may want to consider working with a professional who understands scoliosis to build you a personalized program (or at least…take it easy on the strength training!). 

Take a look below to figure out if strength training is right for you. 

You have a connective tissue disorder

Yes, exercise can be beneficial for connective tissue disorders, but you want to be mindful that you’re not lifting too much weight. This is because connective tissue disorders make you more prone to muscle weakness and fatigue, and over-exerting yourself can cause an immense amount of pain. Many connective tissue disorders also have complications involving the cardiovascular system and may even compromise the structure of your bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. 

If you have a connective tissue disorder and your doctor has told you to limit weight-lifting, you can instead focus on being consistent with less weight and more reps. 

If you have severe, acute flare-ups of pain with radiating nerve symptoms

If that’s you, this is something that should be addressed before you begin strength training. This is often caused by pinched nerves or sciatica (the pain that moves along the sciatic nerve). In this case, it’s not that exercise is bad, even with conditions like neuropathy, but not understanding your limits can make one wrong move extremely painful. 

Focus on understanding how higher-impact modes of exercise can affect your body so you can be aware of situations that may cause pain or further damage

You're not cleared by your doctor after spinal fusion

This is a big no-no! Spinal fusions take a long time to heal properly — it can take three to six months, on average, for you to feel comfortable doing daily tasks, like light housework, and as long as a year before you’re ready to start exercising again. 

A failed spinal fusion surgery can lead to extreme pain, blood clots, nerve damage, injury to blood vessels in and around the spine, and more. This is why it’s crucial you wait until you are cleared by your doctor before you start exercising, even if it’s just light training or walking. 

You have acute disc pain, herniation, or dislocation

You may need to modify strength training if you have a recently herniated or dislocated disc. You should also avoid it if you have an acute disc issue with radiating pain and weakness. Of course, if you have chronic disc issues, you’ll want to slowly build your strength over time. 

If you are someone who is prone to disc-slipping or you have compromised discs, you will need to address your core strength before moving on to other, more impactful exercises. Core strength can help make sure your curve is more properly aligned and that you have a neutral pelvic tilt. 

Stronger core muscles can also help take pressure off your spine, decreasing the likelihood of a herniated disc. 

Because disc slips are so common, especially among us scolio-folk, you need to make sure you are aware of your core muscles and how they can help stabilize your spine — decreasing pain and improving your curve. 

If you don’t know where to start, our Core Control with Scoliosis Course is a great place to get the information you need!

This self-paced, online program (with 50 lessons) will teach you how to strengthen your core without the fear of hurting yourself with exercises that are uncomfortable and unhelpful.

With 5 different modules, all geared toward those with scoliosis, you’ll learn about the key functions of the core, its muscles, and practical exercises you can start incorporating into your fitness routine immediately.

Learn more about Core Control with Scoliosis here!

is strength training safe for scoliosis
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Beth Terranova, PT, DPT

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