Swimming is not a treatment option

Swimming is not a treatment option

Swimming is not a treatment option for scoliosis; on the contrary, if practised competitively it can, in many cases, be detrimental. And it carries the risk of causing low back pain.

This was confirmed by our study Swimming and spinal deformities: a cross-sectional study published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The study compared a sample of 112 competitive swimmers (who swam 4-5 times a week) with an age-matched population of school students, both males and females, who swam recreationally or did not swim at all.

In both groups (the competitve swimmers and the students) we measured the following parameters: the prominence, caused by vertebral rotation kyphosis and lordosis. The youngsters were also administered a questionnaire collect data on low back pain.

The swimmers, especially the girls, showed more marked trunk asymmetries and were more likely to show hyperkyphosis (excessive curvature of the thoracic spine on the sagittal plane ) and, as a consequence, hyperlordosis (excessive inward curvature of the lower spine on the sagittal plane) and low back pain.

From a postural point of view, swimming will cause the spine to collapse” explains Fabio Zaina, a physiatrist at Isico, “because it is an activity that mainly trains the arm and shoulder muscles while the spine in unloaded. Its effect in terms of low back pain is already known: competitive swimming, precisely because it involves intensive training schedules causes low back pain.

On the basis of our data, we can certainly say that swimming should not be recommended as a treatment for scoliosis. Too much swimming can have a detrimental effect on posture and lead to low back pain”.

Obviously it all depends on the individual’s physique and how much he/she swims.

“It’s one thing doing 4-5 training sessions per week, and another doing recreational swimming. As for individuals affected by low back pain, or even scoliosis, who have been told for years to ‘go swimming as it will help’, well, that’s just not true!” says Dr Zaina.

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