Saturday, April 27, 2013

Week One - Done

We have been sent home for the weekend to reflect on what we have learned during this first week, and I must admit that there has been quite a lot.

For example, it's not really the spine that curves but the muscles around it. And as the muscles get used to it, thus grows the spine.  It's a vicious circle really.  Uneven load bearing causes the body to readjust, and that means the muscles grow incorrectly, which causes load bearing to change, etc.

Wearing a heavy satchel or book bag does not cause scoliosis.  However, if you already have scoliosis, wearing a heavy bag, espeically off one shoulder, adds to the load bearing impbalance and can thus make it worse.  And poor posture in childhood and adolescence can affect the load bearing as well.  Being shy, for example, and holding your body inward at the time of body growth means the torso and shoulders curve forward, thus pulling the muscles out of alignment and thus the spine.


Everyone has a curvature of the spine to some degree, but scoliosis by definition means there is rotaional aspect to the spine as well, for the curve is such that the ribs twist and cause humps and bumps in one's back. This can affect the lungs as they are shifted within the ribs, reducing lung function. Catching colds easily and coughing for longer than usual is one sympton of scoliosis.  So is continuoous shortness of breath and decreased cardio-vasular systems, feeling cold, and getting pins and needles in the extremities.

Oh my, I have it all!

Thus curvatures can take many forms, and each form is classified according to its location of the spine and its direction.  My classification is THL L (Thoraso-lumber Left).  My curve is to the right, but the rib and vertebrae hump is on the  left.  they call it a "paquete". My right side is indented at the waist, which is called "the weak point". I took that to mean the spine was being pulled down from the top of of the right side, but it is actually the left side, the side with the hump that is overstretched and underworked.

A load imbalance means the body shifts and the feet must compensate, which means they might flatten or the heels strike over on the outside, which in turn might cause weak ankles or a pronated knee. 

It's good to have some curve at both the base of the spine (Lordosis) and the top (Kyphosis) , but too much is not good. 

What surprised me was finding out that too little lordosis and kyphosos is just as bad as having too much.  I have a bit of a sway back, as my pelvis rocks forward, which means I have to pull my belly in and get those abdominal muscles working to do what the spine isn't.  I also have a flat upper back, so I must do two specific exercises to round my upper back. One of them is to place a theraband around my back and arms at shoulder height, with a foam wedge snugly settle between my shoulder blades.  Then I must pull the band forward as I round my back and hold it for 6 seconds, in repeitions of 12 or so.  The other exercise is to rest on hands and knees as you would for the yoga post "Cat", but to only move the upper part, with shoulders hunched towards the ground.

It doesn't matter one bit what side of the bed you sleep on or what type of pillow you use, although having your head in a neutral position is good.  However, one-sided activities can add to the body's imbalance.  That means tennis, golf, and bowling for example, but it also means ironing, vacuuming and mopping.  (Hmm..... that sounds like a good excuse for getting someone else to do all the housework!)  It also means some forms of dancing, playing musical instruments (like guitar or violin) and painting.  Having babies is particulary difficult on spines with scoliosis, and for some reason can also impact on being able to bear children at all (although I know of a few twisted spines that have produed more than one healthy baby).

Well, there goes my career as the mother of triplets, a violin virtuoso and an Olympic gold medal tennis player!

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