Tag: posture

Does poor posture cause Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterised by an abnormal curvature and twist of the spine, which can result in physical limitations and discomfort. While the exact cause of scoliosis is not fully understood, it is believed to be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors.


Can poor posture cause Scoliosis?

One of the environmental factors that is often associated with scoliosis is poor posture – people with scoliosis are often perceived as having poor posture, and many parents worry that poor posture can cause Scoliosis – but can it? The bottom line is no – poor posture does not cause Scoliosis. Poor posture is a common problem that affects many people worldwide – and it can be a painful issue though. Poor posture can be caused by a variety of factors, including muscle weakness, joint stiffness, and poor ergonomics – but while Scoliosis might cause someone to appear to have poor posture, there’s no evidence to show that poor posture will lead to Scoliosis.

When we have poor posture, our bodies are not in alignment, which can lead to a variety of health problems, including back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Poor posture can also cause our muscles and joints to work harder than they should, leading to fatigue and discomfort. That “hunched” appearance which used to be associated with teens but seems to apply to almost everyone these days is more characteristic of Kyphosis, rather than Scoliosis – and in extreme cases, poor posture might be caused by Kyphosis, but not Scoliosis.


Is there any relationship between Scoliosis and Poor posture?

Most Scoliosis research focuses on establishing the true cause of Scoliosis, and the best ways to treat it, so there hasn’t been much research into whether poor posture might contribute once the condition already exists. Therefore, while poor posture is not a direct cause of scoliosis, it might be a factor which could contribute to the progression of the condition. When we have poor posture, our spines are not in the proper alignment, which can cause our muscles and ligaments to become strained and weakened, it’s feasible that this might make it more possible for scoliosis to progress.

Many aspects of a Scoliosis treatment plan are aimed at creating balance and strength in the core muscles which support the spine, so while maintaining good posture is important for everyone, it’s fair to say that focusing on good posture is especially important for those with scoliosis. Good posture can help to alleviate some of the painful symptoms which some people experience with scoliosis at the very least.


Maintaining good posture

Scoliosis or not, you can only do yourself a favour by maintaining good posture – Here are some tips:

  1. Stand up straight: When standing, make sure your weight is evenly distributed on both feet, and your shoulders are relaxed.
  2. Sit up straight: When sitting, make sure your back is straight, and your feet are flat on the ground.
  3. Use proper ergonomics: Make sure your desk and chair are at the proper height and distance to promote good posture.
  4. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help to strengthen the muscles and ligaments that support the spine, helping to prevent the progression of scoliosis.
  5. Stretch regularly: Regular stretching can help to alleviate the symptoms of scoliosis and improve flexibility.


Treating Scoliosis

Treating Scoliosis is about much more than altering postural imbalances – Scoliosis treatment requires a focus on good nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits as well as a proactive approach such as Bracing. In this regard, there’s a lot we can do to help patients support treatment plans – and much of the advice would be beneficial to almost anyone!

For example, regular exercise can help to strengthen the muscles and ligaments that support the spine, and eating a balanced diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D can also help to promote strong bones and a healthy spine.

So, while poor posture is not a direct cause of scoliosis, it’s not impossible that it might contribute to the progression of the condition. This being said, maintaining good posture is important for everyone, and might even help with pain relief in those with Scoliosis. By focusing on good nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits, we can care for our spines, with, or without Scoliosis!




5 Tips to Help Reduce Scoliosis Pain

For most of the history of Scoliosis treatment, the widely held view has been that Scoliosis does not cause pain. It’s certainly true that many Scoliosis patients present at our clinic with no pain nor discomfort – but recent research, as well as our experience, has shown that in many cases Scoliosis can be painful.

At least one research study suggests evidence of a possible 35-42% prevalence of lower back pain in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis[1] (AIS), in another study of 2400 patients with AIS, 23% reported back pain at their initial contact[2]. Chronic non-specific back pain (CNSBP) also seems to be frequently associated with AIS, with a greater reported prevalence (59%) than seen in adolescents without scoliosis (33%)[3]  – in addition, patients diagnosed with AIS at age 15 are 42% more likely to report back pain at age 18.[4]

In patients under 21 treated for back pain, scoliosis was the most common underlying condition (1439/1953 patients)[5] and Scoliosis patients have between a 3 and 5-fold increased risk of back pain in the upper and middle right part of the back[6].

While this does not mean that everyone with Scoliosis will experience pain – in fact the numbers roughly support about a 50/50 chance – there are still a significant number of individuals for whom the management of Scoliosis & pain is a factor. At the UK Scoliosis Clinic, we utilise a number of approaches to help manage the pain associated with scoliosis – but there are also some steps you can take yourself.


1 – Keep active, Keep fit

Being physically active and reducing the amount of time spent in sedentary positions is very important, not only for pain management but for your overall health and well-being. While it’s true that Scoliosis can make some activities more difficult, and there are some exercises (especially “one-sided” activities, like racket sports) which we might advise against – there’s no reason why Scoliosis should stop you from being as active as possible. If pain is already a significant issue, low-impact activities such as Yoga or Pilates  can be an excellent way to keep moving, and may even provide some additional pain relief. Swimming, once thought to treat Scoliosis (sadly, based on current research, does not[7]) is nonetheless an excellent way to stay fit with almost no risk or injury.


2 – Improve your posture.

While it’s not true that poor posture causes Scoliosis – poor posture can cause pain, both for Scoliosis sufferers and those without Scoliosis.

A huge part of Physiotherapy based approaches to Scoliosis is increasing awareness of posture – when sitting and standing and to take note of the position of your spine. Are you collapsed to one side or slouching? Try to straighten & lengthen your spine and keep balanced, avoid leaning to one side as this can aggravate pain – instead, try to remain in a neutral or corrected position. Many people with Scoliosis pain find that regular movement helps to reduce pain too.


3 – Avoid extended sitting/extended standing

Where possible, avoid extended sitting when working, studying or at school. Regular postural changes/breaks (every 20-30 minutes) are very important and can be as simple as standing up, walking to the other side of the room, or stretching, before sitting back down.

This is, like most of these tips, a good idea to do regardless of your Scoliosis status as long periods of sitting encourage imbalances in muscles and ligaments – in fact, it’s the cause of a huge percentage of back pain cases treated by Chiropractors every year.


4 – Light Stretching or Massage

Stretching or Massage, either as a targeted activity or part of something like Yoga can be highly beneficial for Scoliosis suffers –focussing on elongation and decompression of the spine is likely to help relieve pain for many, and can often be performed at home using a tennis ball, foam roller or massager. That being said it’s best to consult with a Scoliosis expert when it comes to stretching or flexibility routines, for example many people with AIS will have reduced spinal curves or flat backs, so it is important that significant hyper-extension/arching backwards is not performed as it may increase the flattening of the back which may in turn progress the scoliosis.

Repetitive one-sided movements, or exercises & stretches leading to excessive spinal rotation may actually worsen pain – due to the 3D nature of scoliosis. Repetitive twisting or one-sided movements can potentially put your spine into an unfavourable position or even counteract an ongoing treatment program, so use with care.


5 – The Best Option, Scoliosis Specific Exercise

The best option to address Scoliosis pain is, of course a professional plan. A Scoliosis professional can design a series of Scoliosis Specific exercises, that will help improve posture, manage pain and slow the progression of your condition. These scoliosis-specific exercises, once mastered, can be incorporated into your day-to-day life or form part of an active treatment program.

In some cases, the part-time use of a Scoliosis brace could also be considered – for example, while bracing in adults is not likely to reduce the Scoliotic curve itself, research does indicate that bracing can be effective in reducing chronic pain.[8]





[1] Théroux, J., et al.Prevalence of low back pain in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis: a systematic review. Chiropractic & manual therapies, 25(1), 1-6.

[2] Ramirez N, Johnston CE, Browne RH. The prevalence of back pain in children who have idiopathic scoliosis. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1997;79:364–8

[3] Jean Theroux et al. Back Pain Prevalence Is Associated With Curve-type and Severity in Adolescents With Idiopathic Scoliosis Spine: August 1, 2017 – Volume 42 – Issue 15

[4] Clark EM, Tobias JH, Fairbank J. The impact of small spinal curves in adolescents that have not presented to secondary care: a population- based cohort study. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2016; 41:E611–7.

[5] Dimar 2nd JR, Glassman SD, Carreon LY. Juvenile degenerative disc disease: a report of 76 cases identified by magnetic resonance imaging. Spine J. 2007;7:332–7.

[6] Sato T, Hirano T, Ito T, Morita O, Kikuchi R, Endo N, et al. Back pain in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis: epidemiological study for 43,630 pupils in Niigata City. Japan Eur Spine J. 2011;20:274–9

[7] Berdishevsky H, Lebel VA, Bettany-Saltikov J, et al.: Physiotherapy scoliosis-specific exercises—a comprehensive review of seven major schools. Scoliosis Spinal Disord, 2016, 4: 1.

Zaina, F., Donzelli, S., Lusini, M., Minnella, S., and Negrini, S. (2015). Swimming and spinal deformities: A cross-sectional study. The Journal of Pediatrics, 166(1): 163-167.

Gonen Aydin C, Oner A, Hekim HH, Arslan AS, Oztas D, Akman YE. (2020) The prevalence of scoliosis in adolescent swimmers and the effect of swimming on adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Turk J Sports Med.;55(3):200-6.

[8] Scoliosis bracing and exercise for pain management in adults—a case report Weiss et al, J Phys Ther Sci. 2016 Aug; 28(8): 2404–2407.

­­­­Scoliosis – some posture tips

Contrary to popular belief, poor posture cannot give you Scoliosis – the known causes of Scoliosis include degenerative changes in the spine (associated with ageing), neurological conditions and some genetic conditions. It’s also possible to end up with Scoliosis as the result of an accident or injury, or perhaps due to complications during surgery for another issue. All other scoliosis cases are considered idiopathic, meaning the exact cause is unknown – however, there is no evidence to suggest that bad posture causes Scoliosis.


Nonetheless, posture is an important thing for Scoliosis sufferers to keep in mind – now that it is more widely recognised that scoliosis can cause pain and discomfort, many people naturally wonder if there are ways we can reduce discomfort and support treatment during scoliosis correction. While everyday postural changes designed to correct scoliosis are a critical part of approaches such as Schroth therapy, there are also some small changes which one can make in order to potentially improve their overall quality of life.


Sitting and standing

When standing or sitting; good posture uses less energy than poor posture – this is true whether you have scoliosis or not! Some people with scoliosis might find sitting or standing with good posture difficult, either because of the spinal deformity or because of tiredness associated with scoliosis exercise treatment (this is normal!).  Because of this, it’s not uncommon for scoliosis patients to sit or stand with weight shifted more to one side than the other – either trying to overcompensate, or simply leaning on the strong side due to tiredness.

The ideal posture when standing is to have weight evenly spread – the neck should be straight with no tilt, the hips level, and the pelvis neutral (this means not tilting forward or backwards). The knees should be straight or alternatively, one knee straight, the other slightly bent. It can help to check your posture regularly in the mirror or get others to check it for you. Imagine yourself as a puppet with a string attached to the top of your head pulling you straight. The important thing to remember is not to overcompensate – if you lean slightly to one side, try to aim for this neutral posture – but don’t go further the other way!

When sitting, it’s easier to centre yourself correctly – the key is to allow the chair to take your weight evenly, which a normal char will. Try to sit back in a chair with your weight on your buttocks and thighs and your back straight. Try not to sit forward on the edge of your seat and keep the pelvis neutral (not tilting forward or backwards). Try to select a chair that allows your knees to be bent at roughly a 90 – 75 degree angle when sitting so that your knees are level with, or slightly lower than your hips. Keep feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. Try not to sit for too long at any one time. It is best to move every 30 minutes to avoid getting stiff, whether you have Scoliosis or not!  Low soft sofas, chairs without arms, chairs that are too low or too high, bucket chairs and deep chairs can all be especially uncomfortable for those with Scoliosis.

Some patients find that lumbar (lower back) supports, cushions or memory foam can assist with any pain when sitting – for the most part these are safe to use, but t’s worth checking with your scoliosis practitioner if possible.



Exercise is an essential part of everyday health and may well also form part of your Scoliosis treatment – if you are using an exercise-based approach to Scoliosis you will be well aware of the importance of maintaining a balanced and symmetrical spine unless you are specifically performing a corrective exercise.

It’s easy for people with scoliosis to get sore, stiff or tired when using the gym or exercising due to the additional strain which the spine is already under. Similarly, it’s not always a good idea to perform stressful exercises after a scoliosis specific exercise session, as parts of your back will feel tired.

If you do want to perform any kind of weight-bearing exercise, be sure to discuss the best way to do this with your scoliosis practitioner – and always work within your limits, especially during treatment. Very often, low impact and symmetrical exercises, such as swimming are an excellent way to augment scoliosis treatment while keeping fit and with a very low risk of injury or strain.


Beds and sleeping

Choosing the right bed is very important as you spend around 8 hours of the day in it. If you are comfortable you are more likely to sleep well. Getting enough is critical for mental as well as physical health.

As with a chair, it’s recommended to have a bed that allows you to sit on it with your knees at or just below 90 degrees – this should make it easier to lie down and get up.

The mattress should not be too hard or too soft. It needs to support your weight without sagging or giving way at the hips and shoulders – many Scoliosis patients find that a memory foam mattress is more supportive for them – don’t forget that these can be bought separately and added to your bed!

Some patients, especially those with Lumbar curves can experience discomfort when sleeping and laying in bed – this is, in fact, the case for many people, scoliosis sufferer or otherwise, since sleeping flat on your back with your legs straight can put a strain on the lumbar spine. Sleeping on your back, with your knees bent, on your side with your leg bent forward or on your side with a pillow between your legs or under your knees for better support can all help to relieve this discomfort. While not a universal rule, we also find that most scoliosis patients find sleeping on their front somewhat uncomfortable – so you may want to avoid this!