Symmetry - What if you're automatically at a disadvantage in this important category due to a postural deviation? Here are some tips that worked for me in improving my personal case of functional scoliosis.
Life presents all of us with obstacles, challenges that could stand in our way of fitness success. I firmly believe that for each obstacle there is a strategy and a way to overcome in order to reach your own personal potential!
Symmetry - Any guide to figure or bodybuilding competition will stress this as a major element to being successful at the sport. What if you're automatically at a disadvantage in this important category due to a postural deviation? Should you quit? Should you not even attempt to compete because you probably won't win anyway? No way!
I have a condition known as functional scoliosis and I'd like to share a little bit about my experience with this obstacle and how I have been able to make improvements to my condition and still find success in the fitness world.
Functional what? You're probably asking. Scoliosis is a abnormal curvature of the spine. If you look at my spine in an x-ray it looks like an S or a C rather than a straight line. "Functional" means that I wasn't born with this condition, it developed during my childhood.
I had a paper route starting from the age of 9 and my theory is that carrying the heavy newspaper bag on the same shoulder every day for years caused this deviation to my spine. On top of that I always had a bad habit of carrying my backpack on the same shoulder as well, since it was stronger. (Note to parents: Encourage your children to carry their backpacks over both shoulders!)
I discovered I had scoliosis a few years back during a postural analysis at one of the personal trainer schools I attended. Up until that point I knew that one shoulder was higher than the other but I thought it was because I wasn't lifting enough on that side.
My condition was confirmed later by an x-ray which displayed the snake-like curvature of my spine. Due to the S shape of my condition, one side of my back was tight and more developed while the other is stretched out and weaker.
When I started training for figure competitions in 2005 I had to cater my training to my condition in order to improve it as much as possible. I can say from personal experience that my spinal deviation has dramatically improved to the point where it is barely noticeable unless you are looking for it.
As with any issue related to your health and fitness it is important to consult with the proper medical authorities concerning your individual condition. That being said, here are some tips that worked for me in improving my personal case of functional scoliosis.
In my opinion one of the best ways to improve any postural deviation is to be aware of it and avoid doing activities that will aggravate your condition.
For example, while strength training I discovered that my upper trapezius muscles were constantly trying to "help" with other exercises. This was the stronger and more developed side of my body and for a long time I was allowing it to "cheat" without even realizing it. Now whenever I train I watch myself carefully in the mirror and am very aware of what my right trap is doing so I can avoid cheating on this side.
Click To Enlarge. Be Aware Of Postural Deviations.
2. Develop A Strong Core:
Incorporate exercises and movements into your routine which will strengthen your core muscles including your abdominals and lower back. Each of your workouts should incorporate stabilization and balance movements.
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Due to the nature of scoliosis typically one side of the back is tight and one is more stretched out so in order to make improvements to the condition you need to stretch and strengthen.
Where stretching is concerned I recommend rotational back stretches, trunk twisting movements, and stretches where you are reaching overhead in order to lengthen and stretch the lats.
Because one side of your body is probably stronger than the other if you suffer from scoliosis, it is important to do unilateral strength training. Be sure to move each side of your body through a full range of motion, in other words don't allow the strong side to pull more weight or go through a larger range of motion just because it can.
Click To Enlarge. Be Sure To Move Each Side Of Your Body Through A Full Range Of Motion.
Really focus on making sure that both sides are getting an equal amount of work. Examples of unilateral exercises for your back are one armed rows, dumbbells or cables work great for these.
Avoid exercises that aggravate your condition. When you have scoliosis you may discover that spine loaded exercises such as barbell squats or lunges are painful.
Getting massages on a regular basis can loosen up the tight muscles that are a result of scoliosis. I recommend that you find a masseuse who has experience with neuromuscular massage and works with athletes regularly. You may pay a little bit more for a specialized massage such as this but you will get a lot better results from it too!
This is very important for anyone planning on taking the stage. You need to know what your body looks like when you are posing and you need to know how to get into the pose that will best display your physique. If you are suffering from a postural deviation it is important to know how to hold your body so that attention is not drawn to any imperfections.
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Becoming a competitor and changing the way that I train my body has helped me make major improvements to my posture. Is my functional scoliosis gone? No. Improved? Yes.
I am still very aware of my condition and I still work on it every day that I train. But I haven't let it hold me back from pursuing any of my dreams within the fitness industry.
Click To Enlarge. I Haven't Let It Hold Me Back!
Remember that everyone's case is different, you should consult with a specialist to find out what treatment process is best for you, but no matter what don't let an obstacle such as this stand in your way of pursuing your fitness dreams of being a competitor.
**The information in this article is my personal opinion and not a diagnosis for this condition. There are many different types of scoliosis and to find out what is the best treatment and training options for you, you should consult a specialist.
About The Author:
Diana Chaloux is a WNSO Pro; FAME Fitness Model & Swimsuit Athlete; NPC National Level Figure Competitor; Founder and co-owner of Destined 2 Be Fit; ACE/AFAA/FPI certified personal trainer; Wellcoach certified fitness coach; Lifestyle Management Nutrition Manager; Fitness Columnist; WNSO show promoter. Contact Diana and send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Diana@dianachaloux.com or visit her websites www.dianachaloux.com, www.d2bfit.com.
I too have scoliosis, Although at this point I'm not competing, I don't want to rule the possibility of competing out. It is good to know that scoliosis won't automatically disqualify me and that it doesn't have to hold me back.
I was very happy to read this article because my girlfriend has scoliosis and I really want to help her. Reading your article really gives me hope that my girlfriend can benefit from your advice. More specifically however, I was hoping you can share a routine for a beginner? I have already looked up what exercises she should, and should not do, but it would be ideal to use a routine suggested by a professional such as yourself.
So awesome to read this as I just discovered scoliosis has a lot to do with my crooked stance. Always one hip and shoulder higher than the other and compensating when lifting, glad to hear I'm not alone!
Thank you so much for the article. I am a yoga teacher/personal trainer and I am working with my first scoliosis client. Yoga Therapy and Personal training are going to go hand in hand with this one. Thanks Again.
Thank you, I was diagnosed two years ago and have had several set backs. Your article is very helpful, I started doing yoga November 2014, which seems to be the missing link in managing the pain. I would like to see one of your workouts if possible. Again thank you.