Scoliosis and strength training

I've been looking through the forums and reading about the heavy lifting and the results that can result from it. However, I don't think I can really do much of it since I've been told since I was young to not lift anything heavy but I'd love some advice on weight exercises I could do that wouldn't put pressure on my back. I've already scheduled an appointment with a back doc and plan to ask him what I should and shouldn't do but I wanted to hopefully hear from some folks that have dealt with similar back problems.

So a bit about my problems: I've had functional scoliosis since puberty due to a short leg (1+ inch difference). With the help of a prosthetic lift in one shoe, I've managed to correct my curvature to around 20 degrees from 40+. Just with my body weight, standing in place causes a lot of pain in my short leg and foot.

I'm looking to tone as I lose weight to minimize loose skin and flab and maintain muscle and gain strength. So far I've been during mostly cardio, mostly inline walking and biking (running causes pinched nerves in my back) and I've recently started using the elliptical although it causes foot pain (hoping that gets better). For weight training I've been using arm and back machines where I can sit down. Been taking it easy to see how my back reacts. Also, been during crunches to strengthen my core (have to use a body ball since my tailbone is off-center).

Any suggestions for toning exercises with light weight for my legs and core would be appreciated. Or suggestions for some heavy weight training that won't put pressure on my back or short leg.


  • mylars
    mylars Posts: 12
    Maybe you can try 3 to 5 lbs. dumbbells. I had a back surgery last March due to degenerative disk.
    Now I am back on working out but with minimal weights. Sometimes I lay on my back with my legs bent to keep my back flat to the ground for support. Then I lift a 5 to 10 lbs weights. I make sure to stretch and ice my back when Im done.
    Good Luck. I hope this helps. :smile:
  • soldiergrl_101
    soldiergrl_101 Posts: 2,207 Member
    I have dextroscoliosis as well (spine crocked to the right). My left leg is longer than my right and that was the result. I do cardio and weight lifting every day. I cant do exercises like push ups just yet but I started off slow and light and worked my way up. I now have less back pain than I used to and I have better posture. Strength training has actually made my condition easier to deal with. That said I would work on Core exercises because this will make everything much easier for you
  • Azurite27
    Azurite27 Posts: 542 Member
    Thanks for the replies so far. Still looking for specific strength/weight exercises I can do for my legs and core that won't put pressure on my back.
  • teateatea23
    teateatea23 Posts: 18 Member
    I also have scoliosis but not as severe as yours. One thing that helped me a TON with the pain and strengthening my core was doing pilates. I had an awesome instructor that worked with me one-on-one to figure out which specific exercise would strengthen my back and abs the most without causing injury or having to suffer through pain. It wouldn't hurt to hire a trainer for a couple of sessions so that they can show you the best moves.
  • Smuterella
    Smuterella Posts: 1,623 Member

    I have just been told I have scoliosis and am waiting for the full report from the Consultant, I am signing up for pilates classes (whew - expensive) and have been advised to completely stop any sort of weight bearing exercise until I have spoken to a specialist physio.

    Was just wanting to bump this thread to see how others are getting on?
  • khaleesi_16388
    khaleesi_16388 Posts: 9 Member
    I have idiopathic scoliosis that was diagnosed at age 11 (now 24). I wore a back brace for 2 years in childhood, then had spinal fusion to correct my still-advancing curve at age 18, then developed a complication and had the fusion revised at age 20. My curve is double, one thoracic one lumbar, forming a backward S.

    I played soccer as a kid, but due to the back brace that I wore 20 hrs a day, I found it difficult to stay in shape and play without constantly wrenching my back, since the posture required to run and play soccer was such a deviation from the posture I was held in most of the time by the brace. I quickly resigned myself to being limited by my condition and became more or less completely sedentary. I have a decent metabolism and am genetically somewhat skinny, but I definitely wasn't healthy.

    In college, I finally started working out, but running was always really tough, especially on a treadmill, because the high impact would aggravate my back, especially after I'd had the first fusion. Then once I found out I needed another fusion, I had to take time off yet again after the second surgery and it seemed pretty hopefully.

    About 2 years ago I FINALLY got back into fitness FOR REAL. I've done P90X, which I loved, and T25, which I found too high-impact for my weak back muscles. I just recently started focusing more on lifting, and today I definitely noticed my lower back was hurting. I think it's largely due to an over-ambitious upper body routine with barbells and my form definitely suffered when I started to fail my last few reps of military press. I probably let my ego get the best of me.

    I do constantly find I have to be conscious of my musculature, because it does develop unevenly and I do need to work a little harder than most to ensure that I'm working my muscles evenly bilaterally and that one side isn't taking the bulk of the weight.

    That being said, I've found that strengthening my body has gone incredibly far in terms of strengthening my mind, my will-power and my self-esteem. I am a huge believer that there is no reason scoliosis should prevent you from the self-confidence and sense of accomplishment that comes with getting in shape and doing something for yourself.

    Of course, as I am just starting to move into strength training and am definitely more than a little nervous about injuring myself, I'd love to hear any tips or advice that anyone might have about protecting my back and staying healthy while I build my strength and continue lifting. And if there are any stretches or exercises that have worked well for anyone with back problems, I'd love to hear them!
  • Azdak
    Azdak Posts: 8,281 Member

    Damn! I had 7th comment in the pool.