At one point, being diagnosed with scoliosis was believed to lead to a life of restrictions and inactivity. However, as our knowledge of the condition has expanded, we now understand that this is not necessarily the case. Early detection and treatment can enable individuals to lead fulfilling lives despite the presence of an abnormally curved spine. Read on to discover if running is a suitable activity for those with scoliosis. The limitations on activities vary depending on the individual; what is safe for one person may not be advisable for another. The repetitive impact of running can exacerbate the curvature of the spine in patients, making short-distance running or sprinting a preferable option over long-distance running. Before delving into specific advice for running with scoliosis, it is essential to emphasize the importance of maintaining physical fitness and staying active for individuals with this condition, including engaging in general exercise and participating in sports such as running, with proper precautions and post-operative care after scoliosis surgery.

importance of maintaining physical fitness and staying active

Exercising with Scoliosis

Scoliosis was once believed to be a debilitating condition until a better understanding of its impact and treatment emerged. Being diagnosed with scoliosis indicates an abnormal sideways spinal curve that creates uneven forces on the body. In children and early adolescence, scoliosis primarily causes postural deviation, while in adulthood, it can lead to pain and tends to worsen progressively over time, especially during puberty. The condition disrupts the body’s symmetry, shifts its center of gravity, and affects balance, coordination, and gait. It can also be caused by degeneration of the spinal discs, known as degenerative scoliosis, a type that affects older adults as the spinal discs wear out with age, particularly in the lumbar spine or lower back. Understanding the cause of scoliosis, including risk factors such as family history, whether it be a malformation during embryonic development, a genetic change, or a spine injury, including bad posture, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or cerebral palsy, is crucial in properly exercising with scoliosis and preventing further spinal deformities and complications. This makes it important to exercise with caution and proper guidance, especially for those with conditions such as osteoporosis and congenital scoliosis. With April being the start of Spring, it is important to educate oneself on the condition and seek proper medical advice before starting any exercise routine for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, the most common type of scoliosis that may require surgical treatment due to the severity of the curve.

Despite common assumptions, running is generally not too difficult, painful, or unsafe for patients. Maintaining physical fitness and activity is crucial for those with scoliosis to keep the spine strong and flexible, with a focus on core strength to support the surrounding muscles.

Weak or unbalanced muscles around the spine can hinder its natural curves and alignment, underscoring the importance of maintaining strength and fitness for enhanced spinal support. Keeping the spine flexible through exercise can improve its responsiveness to chiropractic treatment and contribute to overall health and healing. Exercise not only benefits physical health but also mental well-being, offering a positive coping mechanism for individuals managing the problem. Joining a support group, such as Scoliosis Warriors, can also provide additional support and resources for those living with the condition. Wearing a back brace can also provide additional support for the spine during exercise, helping to manage any underlying conditions and promote non-invasive scoliosis treatment, unlike spinal fusion surgery, where doctors use pieces of bone or metal rods to fuse bones in the spine together for improved alignment and stability.

our Exercises can reduce the curve

Running with Scoliosis (while avoiding complications)

Every case of scoliosis is unique, meaning that not all forms of exercise and activities are suitable for individuals with this condition.

Scoliosis varies not only in terms of mild to moderate and severe to very severe but also in the different types of conditions a person can acquire, each with distinct causes, symptoms, and treatment requirements.

Before engaging in any form of exercise or activity, patients should consult their treatment provider. Certain activities may not be suitable for people with scoliosis, while others should be done cautiously and adjusted as needed, and some are typically safe.

When it comes to scoliosis and exercise, generally, exercises that work the body symmetrically, don’t put the back in any unnatural positions, or introduce compression from repeated jarring motions or impact are considered safe.

Activities and exercises that overuse one side of the body can exacerbate the condition’s asymmetrical effects, one of which is a muscle imbalance, putting the back in an unnatural position or hyperextending the spine can put added stress on its vertebrae and discs, and repeated jarring motions and impact can introduce compression to an already-compressive condition such as arthritis. This is especially important for those with adult scoliosis, as it can lead to painful arthritis of the discs, facet joints, and ligaments.

Running engages the body’s muscles evenly on both sides of the spine, aiding in weight management and reducing pressure on the spinal joints and discs.

When running, the back remains in a natural position without hyperextending the spine, as it stays straight and upright, thus avoiding any spinal tension.

Running is beneficial for bone health, which is especially advantageous for females with scoliosis, a structural condition affecting the spine bones, as they are more susceptible to changes in bone density during menopause.

The negative aspect of running with scoliosis often involves the repetitive impact and pressure on the feet from hitting the ground repeatedly, which can lead to compression over time and long distances. This is particularly relevant for severe cases and during long-distance running.

Furthermore, apart from the advantages of running and staying in good physical shape, enhancing core strength, spinal strength, and flexibility can assist with managing scoliosis and adopting a lifestyle that is conducive to it. Having understood the overall benefits of running for patients, let’s delve into specific recommendations for improving running technique.

Running with Scoliosis

Proper Running Technique is Critical if you have Scoliosis

Proper running technique is beneficial for everyone, but individuals with curved spines can especially benefit from maintaining a healthy spine position and evenly distributing impact shock during running.

Maintaining an upright posture and focusing forward is crucial to maintain alignment of the cervical spine with the rest of the body; tilting the head downwards adds pressure on the neck, leading to strain on the cervical vertebrae.

Ensure the body remains relaxed with arms/hands positioned around hip/waist level; raising them too high requires extra energy to sustain. It is crucial to land on the midfoot rather than the toes or heels to distribute impact stress evenly through the foot’s center rather than the front or back of the body.

It is crucial to pay attention to your posture, maintaining a straight and aligned body ensures that the neck is upright above the thoracic spine, which is directly above the lumbar spine, resulting in the spine being held in its natural and aligned position.

Running can have various impacts on scoliosis, a condition characterized by an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. In most cases, running is considered beneficial for patients as it helps strengthen the muscles supporting the spine and improve overall posture. However, there are certain considerations to keep in mind to ensure that running does not exacerbate the condition.

One potential concern is poor running form, especially in cases of severe scoliosis. Incorrect posture while running can put additional strain on the spine and surrounding muscles, potentially worsening the curvature. It is essential for individuals with scoliosis to maintain proper running technique and seek guidance from a healthcare provider or physical therapist if needed.

Long-distance running can also pose challenges for sufferers due to the repetitive impact of foot strike on the ground. This continuous jarring motion may affect spinal alignment and lead to discomfort or pain. For those with the condition, focusing on shorter distances or incorporating low-impact activities alongside running can help minimize these risks while still reaping the benefits of cardiovascular exercise.

Prior to engaging in any physical activity, including running, it is crucial to warm up adequately and perform gentle stretching exercises. A proper warm-up routine can help prepare the body for exercise, improve flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury. Stretching targeted muscles can also aid in maintaining mobility and preventing muscle tightness or imbalances that may contribute to back pain associated with the problem.

Overall, patients can safely incorporate running into their fitness regimen by paying attention to their form, choosing appropriate distances, and incorporating supportive measures such as warm-ups and stretches. Consulting with a healthcare provider or physical therapist can provide personalized guidance on how to effectively include running as part of a comprehensive management plan. It is important to note that the number of hours a scoliosis brace is worn each day can also impact the effectiveness of treatment, so it is crucial to follow the recommended guidelines for bracing, including the different types of braces, from a healthcare professional.

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How does scoliosis impact a person’s daily life and activities?

A curvature of the spine can cause pain, discomfort, and limited mobility in daily activities like walking, running, or exercising. It can affect posture and lead to muscle imbalances. Proper medical guidance, exercises, and lifestyle modifications are essential for managing the challenges effectively.

How does scoliosis impact a person's daily life and activities


So for those asking should I run with scoliosis, It is important to pay attention to form and technique, and if running is causing back pain, consider shorter distances.

In general, avoid activities that lead to repeated shocks and jarring motion from the feet hitting the ground, but using proper technique can reduce this compressive force, which is especially important for individuals with severe curves running long distances.

Practicing proper form involves landing on the midfoot rather than the toes or heel. This ensures that the impact is evenly distributed across the center of the body, where it is strongest and can be absorbed and distributed effectively, instead of concentrating it on the front or back of the body.

By maintaining an upward and forward head position instead of looking down, the cervical spine aligns with the thoracic spine, and the middle/upper back aligns with the lumbar spine, preventing additional pressure on the neck from bending the head forward or downward.

At ScoliSMART, we offer lifestyle advice and suggestions to promote a more friendly way of living. I emphasize the importance of exercise in both treatment and daily routines, attempting to assist patients in incorporating a mix of beneficial scoliosis-friendly pursuits.

I assist patients in understanding the benefits, possible drawbacks, and the significance of maintaining correct posture and technique when running.

Exercise is beneficial for patients as it helps them stay in shape, serves as an effective cardiovascular exercise, aids in weight management and flexibility, engages muscles evenly, particularly the back muscles that provide spinal support, leading to enhanced receptiveness to treatment for the body and spine.