Let’s debunk some myths!
We often hear this: “ my son has scoliosis and the doctors say he should practice swimming as it’s the only sport that is good for the spine! “, or: tennis causes scoliosis! “ and so on and so forth. These are myths, without any scientific grounds.
In 1996 the “ Research group on Scoliosis and Vertebral Diseases “ chaired by the late Professor Paolo Sibilla completed an interesting study in which it analysed positive and negative features ( as regards the muscle-skeleton apparatus ) of the main sports young people practice in the growing age.
Let us now see the good and bad thing about the most common sports:
It provides good cardiovascular training
There is risk of physical trauma during matches
It has no particular effects on the muscular and skeletal balance of the vertebral column
There is no risk of physical trauma because of collisions during game play (that is why many young women choose it)
It is not recommended for boys with tendency to hyperkyphosis since, especially if practiced at professional level, can increase the backbone kyphosis
It provides excellent cardiovascular training
It seems that the continuous leaps have a positive effect on growth
It is highly traumatic for knees and ankles
At school level, if the athlete tries all specialties ( jumping, throwing, sprints, middle and long distance running) athletics greatly helps development of the muscular and skeletal system and increases strength and resistance to all of the body
It has no particular contraindications, but it is very demanding and little entertaining
If practiced at the basic training level represents the ideal sport for physical level as it help develop an excellent neuro-muscolar control
All the main muscular districts are equally trained
Some exercises ( bridge, scissors) heavily exert the spinal column and therefore are not recommended for subjects with strong lumbar hyperlordosis
Several studies confirm importance of ballet dance in physical development of young females throughout the whole age of development
It grants an excellent awareness and control over posture because of the use of the mirror during training
It is an excellent correction gymnastic for people suffering from scoliotic paramorphism
It is recommended for girls lumbar hyperlordosis as the dancer’s stance flattens the curves
It provide excellent cardiovascular training
Develops lower limbs particular
The cyclist’s running stance may increase kyphosis ( if practiced for a long time at professional level)
Highly recommended for development of lower limbs in particular ; it is practiced outdoor, in mountain areas, and therefore it is particularly beneficial for the respiratory apparatus
Helps developing an excellent neuromuscular control
If new generation equipment ( helmet, skis and boots) is used, the number of traumas is reduced with respect to the past years
All these sports train and develop neuro – muscular control
help increasing articulations’ flexibility and extension
Helps develop a good control over the body both in static and dynamic situations
It is almost a correction gymnastics for young people with dorsal hyperkyphosis
Does not provide training for the cardio-respiratory apparatus
For years it has been discommended to boys with scoliosis (even slight scoliosis) as it was thought that, being an asymmetric sport it could worsen scoliosis; instead, studies on professional tennis players have proven that tennis does not cause scoliosis but develops the “main” upper limb more than the other one
Improves eye-hand coordination
It provides good training for the cardio-respiratory apparatus
For year it has been (and still is) the “ No. recommended sport” because it has several real positive features:
It provides excellent training for the cardio-respiratory apparatus
Reinforced all the main muscular districts ( especially dorsal muscles)
Helps increasing articulations’ flexibility
There is no risk of trauma.
it is NOT a cure for scoliosis!
Researchers Vercautereen and Geyer state that for cases of thoracic scoliosis with hump exceeding 10 mm swimming is not only not useful but can even be detrimental as it may trigger development of a self-deformation mechanism caused by forced breathing and water pressure, and in addition to that while swimming it is not possible to notice and correct posture.
However for children with only a slight scoliosis or other paramorphisms (dorsal hyperkyphosis, lumbar hyperlordosis ) swimming is still an excellent sport. Its results may be made even better if combined with correction gymnastic.