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Posture Talk #3 Scoliosis

In the previous 'Posture Talk', I wrote about common postures such as forward-head-posture, hyper kyphosis and lordosis but in today’s topic I’m going to explain something that we don’t see commonly yet it is a very life effecting posture, called scoliosis.

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature/s, rotation/s of the spine. Often time, in remedial massage therapy study, we learnt as ‘S’ shape, or ‘C’ shape scoliosis. Which means, some people have one curvature of the spine and few others have double curvatures, which causes the ‘S’ shape.

Yes, the spine does have normal curves throughout the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine but only in the “sagittal” place. The natural curvatures are only curved frontward or backward, NON lateral which is a side curving.

And also, not one scoliosis is the same. The level of the spine that the curvature is occurring, any rotation involved, and other joints/structure involved can create unique, individual scoliosis.

Types of Scoliosis and treatment

There are idiopathic, congenital or neuromuscular scoliosis, classified by etiology. However, I am only going to go through as a RM (Remedial Massage) therapist point of view on scoliosis and we divide types of scoliosis as ‘functional’ or ‘structural’ scoliosis.

1. Functional scoliosis

Functional scoliosis is when a person has the abnormal lateral curvatures by their way of ‘function’, body mechanism, and causing surrounding muscular system to follow then having pain and issues with joints and immobility.

Peoples with functional scoliosis weren’t born with it and often time it will improve by manual therapy, massage, muscle release or toning, and corrective exercises.

2. Structural scoliosis

Structural scoliosis, in remedial massage, they are the peoples who were born with it. There could be a health condition, or born with abnormalities of the spine which causes scoliosis.

This type of scoliosis is harder to treat and since most of them can be diagnosed when they are adolescence, therefore, they go through structural corrective wear treatment to surgical treatment.

Although manual therapy cannot cure or treat people with structural scoliosis, however, I still think that ‘hands-on’ manual treatment will help them to increase mobility and improve life style even if it’s temporary period.

Everyday tips for scoliosis

Major issue and problems with scoliosis is the function of biomechanism limiting due to the condition. Joints and muscles are restricted by the posture and then pain and discomfort comes with it.

There are exercises and manual therapies that will help with these symptoms. To get the most suitable and specific exercises, you’d have to see the professionals such as physiotherapist, exercise physiologist. For people with functional scoliosis will see great improvement by doing those exercises, stretch and ongoing treatments that release tension of the soft tissue and (hopefully) the structure will improve as well.

The most common ones for general functional scoliosis; not severe or complex, are ‘Cat & Camel’, ‘Open and close book’ mobilization, lateral spinal stretch and ‘needle & thread’ exercise.

Remedial massage and Scoliosis

As a remedial massage therapist, sometime I see people with scoliosis but haven’t discovered that they have. Wondering why there are back pain and limited range of motion through their back.

There are few remedial massage techniques that helps with releasing tension that caused by the scoliosis and loosen the soft tissue around the “locked” joint area.

  • Cupping therapy: Perfect to release general myofascial of the back muscle that’s been holding a lot of tension.

  • PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), Manual joint mobilisation: Gentle approach is always safer, therefore, subtle PNF stretch increase range of motion and letting the body to realise its ability to reach further limit without pain or damage. And also manual joint mobilisation help greatly for those have limited movement through it due to the posture.

  • Deep tissue: For the areas that shortened, tightened from the scoliosis. Opposite to the stretched site. Targeting deeper tissue by slow, long stroke of pressure that releasing the tightened muscle and tension.

  • Brisk friction: For the areas that stretched out too much by the curvature of the scoliosis, toning the muscle and increasing circulation and elasticity.

At Harmonize Body Works, we area providing each individual's uniqueness in terms of body mechanics and structural differences with diverse technique and harmonizing touch. Contact us to find out more and improve your posture.

Written by Seonkyo Kim; Dip. RM therapy



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