T Nation

Scoliosis Power


#1

I have recently discovered from an x ray that I have a minor case of scoliosis in the dorsal area of my spine. This is fairly alarming because I have been training in powerlifting for a considerable period of time now with very excessive loads, particularly in my deadlift, (which is rumored to be an exercise one should avoid with my disorder.).

There seems to be no clear research done on athletes who repeatedly lift heavy weights with scoliosis and whether or not this can cause or worsen the condition. I've been training hard for a long time now so I'll be damned if I have to give up at the level I'm at.

Anyone know anything? I'm looking for facts over opinions.


#2

I think Lamar Gant had a form of scoliosis.


#3

Lamar Gant, very much so. There are pics out there.

I was diagnosed with a minor scoliosis at my Army induction exam, 1976.

I squat a bit crookedly, the bar seating at an angle across my delts, the left one sitting higher. My left thigh breaks depth first. Would get red lighted by the one side judge sometimes. I still did okay in my competition years. 525 (I think) squat at 181. (No comments)

I bench at an angle, my right ass cheek wants off the bench if my shoulders are square. No big deal. My ground-meat-for-shoulder-soft-tissue issue dominated the train wreck which is my bench, not the scoliosis.

I deadlifted 630 as a 181 back in the '90s, hit a raw 600 last April at age 56.

I have some disc issues in my T spine near the curve. One of my ribs slipped a bit and so I have chondritis at the vertebra and at the sternum. Hurts some (I am old) but so do a bunch of my other parts.

My war story.

Lift. You’ll see what happens when it happens.

EDIT: I know that you are asking for citations and not anecdotes, and so my apologies. But I, as you, have never been able to find anything. So I just kept going.


#4

I’m not a Doctor/PT/Chiropractor. My back was bothering me, so I read a bunch of stuff on the internet.

Short Answer:
If you were born with it, you can prehab/rehab to keep it from getting worse, and continue lifting. If you have developed scoliosis, you can correct and reverse it with some thought and a little work.

Long Answer:
I read that maybe half the cases of Scoliosis have no real, physical cause that can be found. I take that to mean that you can develop scoliosis, through bad posture, exercise selection, etc. If you are “off-balance” meaning that one side is stronger, or sits differently than the other side, continuing to do tons of compound lifts can make the problem worse.

If this applies to you, doing some single leg/single arm work can balance things back out, and get things straightened again. Then, it will be much safer/easier to do the big lifts.

Have you had any problems or symptoms yet?

-One shoulder higher or much smaller/weaker than the other.
-One pec/lat sitting higher/lower than the other
-One shoulder/arm much weaker than the other when pressing, especially at lockout
-One foot way in front or way behind the other when you stand/brace
-One foot turned in/out way more than the other
-Cramps on one side of your upper/lower back
-Anterior Pelvic Tilt
-One leg/hip really tight
-Crooked squat/deadlift
-One shoulder coming off the bench when you bench press

I started with a little pain and weakness in my left shoulder. I didn’t do enough to address the problem (sidebends, single leg work, single arm work) and continued with the power lifts. A couple years later I had a high left shoulder, scoliosis, APT, overactive QL/Psoas,and a club foot. As I walked, each step was crooked. I was basically squatting over top of one leg, sticking the other out like an outrigger. I couldn’t lock out any overhead/bench presses. My back and hips hurt all the time. My non-club foot was cramped and twisted.

Since then I’ve spent 6-7 months doing lots of stretching, one arm/one leg lifts, half kneeling lifts, all kinds of ab stuff. I’m standing straighter and walking straighter, and feel a lot better.


#5

For what it’s worth, I had it growing up. I?ve never let it stop me from squatting or pulling. And after 15+ years of lifting the scoliosis is more or less gone.


#6

Lamar Gant is a fucking badass.


#7

A shorter back makes your arms comparatively longer for the dead. But not absolutely longer in the bench press. Maybe scoliosis is an advantage in PL?

Kinda like that one-legged wrestler had an advantage because he weighed less.


#8

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
I’m not a Doctor/PT/Chiropractor. My back was bothering me, so I read a bunch of stuff on the internet.

Short Answer:
If you were born with it, you can prehab/rehab to keep it from getting worse, and continue lifting. If you have developed scoliosis, you can correct and reverse it with some thought and a little work.

Long Answer:
I read that maybe half the cases of Scoliosis have no real, physical cause that can be found. I take that to mean that you can develop scoliosis, through bad posture, exercise selection, etc. If you are “off-balance” meaning that one side is stronger, or sits differently than the other side, continuing to do tons of compound lifts can make the problem worse.

If this applies to you, doing some single leg/single arm work can balance things back out, and get things straightened again. Then, it will be much safer/easier to do the big lifts.

Have you had any problems or symptoms yet?

-One shoulder higher or much smaller/weaker than the other.
-One pec/lat sitting higher/lower than the other
-One shoulder/arm much weaker than the other when pressing, especially at lockout
-One foot way in front or way behind the other when you stand/brace
-One foot turned in/out way more than the other
-Cramps on one side of your upper/lower back
-Anterior Pelvic Tilt
-One leg/hip really tight
-Crooked squat/deadlift
-One shoulder coming off the bench when you bench press

I started with a little pain and weakness in my left shoulder. I didn’t do enough to address the problem (sidebends, single leg work, single arm work) and continued with the power lifts. A couple years later I had a high left shoulder, scoliosis, APT, overactive QL/Psoas,and a club foot. As I walked, each step was crooked. I was basically squatting over top of one leg, sticking the other out like an outrigger. I couldn’t lock out any overhead/bench presses. My back and hips hurt all the time. My non-club foot was cramped and twisted.

Since then I’ve spent 6-7 months doing lots of stretching, one arm/one leg lifts, half kneeling lifts, all kinds of ab stuff. I’m standing straighter and walking straighter, and feel a lot better.

[/quote]

Just one story like this is enough to get me using single arm/leg movements in all of my accessory work as well as strongly want a coach for my form again. I have not had any of the more severe symptoms you have listed other than I had a friend tell me that one side of me seemed to be rising more when bench pressing. I thought he was full of shit and told him off. Now I know that he was probably being sincere. It is going to be very difficult to discourage me unless it is absolute that I will deform and cripple due to my training. Then I will join the darkside of bodybuilding.


#9

And I JUST reached a total to qualify me for provincial competition… I guess this is power life. Power problems.


#10

I have slight scoliosis too. My hips and shoulders are super uneven. Do what works for you. If it hurts(like spine damaging hurt), stop.

Lot’s of core work always helps keep the spine stable and protected.

Honestly all your heavy DLs and squats are probably what kept you from noticing. Your back is probably a lot stronger than the average joe with scoliosis so maybe you’re alright. But I’m not a doc.


#11

Yeah, lifting is good for you! Just use a little thought and consideration when you pick your lifts. A few lunges, sidebends and 1 arm half kneeling presses during your warm ups would probably go a long, long way.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

It wasn’t the weights that messed me up, it was the way I used the weights that caused me problems.