Calisthenics, a form of exercise that uses bodyweight training, has gained popularity for its simplicity and effectiveness in building strength and flexibility.
However, for individuals with scoliosis, concerns might arise about participating in such activities. The spinal condition varies from person to person, and not all exercises might be suitable.
As such, it’s important to take note of the exercises which are safe for someone with scoliosis. But on the opposite side, the highly adaptive nature of calisthenics makes the exercise regimen fit for most people.
Let’s explore how calisthenics can be adapted to your needs, the exercises that might work well, and the importance of consulting a medical professional beforehand.
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How A Person With Scoliosis Can Perform Calisthenics
If you are undergoing scoliosis treatment and you’re interested in trying calisthenics, it’s important to approach it with caution and make certain adjustments to ensure your safety and comfort. Here’s how you can incorporate calisthenics into your routine:
1. Consult A Professional
Before embarking on any new exercise regimen, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor or a qualified physical therapist. They can provide valuable insights into what types of exercises are suitable for your specific condition and how to perform them correctly.
2. Consider Scoliosis-Specific Exercises
There are exercises tailored specifically for individuals with scoliosis. Scoliosis exercises focus on improving posture and strengthening core muscles. Incorporating exercises like side planks, gentle twists and pelvic tilts can be beneficial.
3. Pay Attention To Proper Form
The best exercise for scoliosis is one that helps you maintain proper form during exercises. This helps minimise strain on your scoliotic spine and reduces the risk of injury.
So, focus on your posture and alignment throughout each movement to address issues like uneven shoulders or hips.
4. Start Slowly And Progress Gradually
Begin with simpler exercises and gradually increase the intensity as your body becomes accustomed to the movements. Try to avoid exercises that involve excessive twisting or bending of the spine.
Can You Build Muscle With Scoliosis?
You can build muscle and lose weight even if you have scoliosis with a little extra care and attention.
Focus on exercises that strengthen your core and support your spine, like planks, pistol squats and gentle weightlifting. Start with lighter weights and gradually increase as you get stronger and always maintain proper form to avoid strain on your spine.
Consulting a doctor or a physical therapist is wise to tailor your muscle-building routine to your specific scoliosis needs. With patience and the right approach, you can definitely work on building muscle and improving your overall strength.
What Exercises Should You Not Do With Scoliosis?
If you have scoliosis, avoid lifting heavy objects and exercises that involve twisting or bending your spine too much. Certain exercises like full sit-ups, pull-ups, deep backbends, heavy weightlifting, high jumps and high-impact activities can strain your back.
Additionally, be cautious with overhead lifts and intense twisting stretches as certain positions might worsen your spinal curvature or cause discomfort, especially after a surgery. Remember to prioritise your safety and plan your workout routine carefully.
Is Calisthenics Good For The Spine?
Calisthenics, which are exercises using your body weight, can be good for your spine if done correctly and with care. They help build strong muscles, improve flexibility and promote better posture and strength. Here’s how calisthenics can benefit your spine:
1. Strengthens Core Muscles
Calisthenics exercises like planks, push-ups and leg raises engage your core muscles. A strong core supports your thoracic spine and helps maintain better alignment, reducing strain on the spine, legs and feet.
2. Improves Posture
Many calisthenics movements involve keeping your body in a straight line. Practising good posture during these exercises can translate to better posture in daily life, lessening the pressure on your spine.
3. Enhances Flexibility
Calisthenics exercises often include stretches and movements that improve flexibility. Flexible abdominal muscles can ease tension on the spine and reduce the risk of injuries.
4. Full Body Engagement
Calisthenics engage multiple muscle groups at once. This balanced muscle development can support your spine by distributing forces more evenly.
Is It OK To Go To The Gym With Scoliosis?
If you have scoliosis and are wondering whether it’s safe to go to the gym, the answer is generally yes. That said, there are some important things to consider.
While idiopathic scoliosis varies from person to person, exercise can often be helpful in managing discomfort and promoting overall well-being.
1. Choose The Right Exercises
Not all exercises are equal when it comes to scoliosis. Focus on exercises that help strengthen your core muscles, improve posture and enhance flexibility. Scoliosis-specific exercises, as recommended by professionals, can be particularly beneficial.
2. Start Slowly
If you’re new to exercising or have been away from the gym for a while, start slowly. Gradually build up your strength and stamina to avoid overexertion and strain on your spine.
3. Stay Comfortable
If you experience pain or discomfort during any exercise, stop immediately.
You can try using more comfortable ways of staying active and dealing with your scoliosis, such as the Schroth method for strength training and posture awareness. Alternatively, targeted pilates and gymnastics can help reduce the discomfort that scoliosis patients experience.
It’s almost always better to skip exercises that don’t feel right for your body.
4. Use Gym Equipment Wisely
If you’re using gym equipment, make sure it’s adjusted to your needs and doesn’t worsen your scoliosis.
Consider using equipment like stability balls to improve your sitting position posture and help with strengthening your lower and upper back muscles. It may also be a good idea to use foam rollers to help reduce back pain.
5. Listen To Your Body
Your body knows best. If you feel any unusual pain or discomfort, don’t push through it. It’s extremely important to understand that physical and mental health and safety come first. You should also focus on strength training and healthy eating.
Adults and children with scoliosis can confidently engage in a physical activity by seeking professional guidance, selecting suitable scoliosis exercises and maintaining proper form.
Consulting a doctor or healthcare expert is vital to ensure tailored recommendations. By emphasising core strengthening, posture and balance improvement and gradual progression, your overall well-being will improve significantly.
While challenges exist, a cautious approach and attentive listening to your body are essential. With proper care and hard work, calisthenics can be a major stepping stone for enhancing fitness and managing scoliosis. Remember, safety and self-awareness are key on this fitness journey.
Founder of www.calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.