Scoliosis. I hate it. Hence why I don’t post about it a lot. But it’s one of the reasons I started this blog, and it is a question I get a lot, especially from Google searches.
Q: Can I run with scoliosis?
A: Yes. Probably. Maybe. I think. I hope.
I’m not a doctor or a chiropractor or anything resembling an expert on anything except my own experience. Obviously I’ve been able to run a lot and not had any problems. I hope if you’re reading this that you are too.
Let’s revisit my x-rays, shall we? Two chiropractors have told me I’m the worst case they’ve ever seen! I WIN!
My body is basically very high needs because of my spine. I always seem to be fighting some weird muscle imbalance, and I do a lot of pre-habbing of my body to keep it from getting into Injury-Land. I handle my scoliosis in five ways, with the goal being to keep running well into my life (like, all of it):
1. I stretch a LOT. Because my spine is twisty, it pulls on certain muscles, very hard. So, I’m pretty much always tight, somewhere. It makes it hard to sleep. I wake up super tight. I like to stretch/do yoga/whatever you want to call it in the morning. Sometimes I don’t make it a priority, and I feel it.
2. I get massage. I used to think this was a frou-frou Ladies Who Lunch kind of thing, but not so anymore. I get the painful, deep tissue kind, and it helps. It also hurts. A lot. But, worth it. Get a recommendation from an athlete who is a believer in sports massage. Then, be vocal in your massage about what you need. I go about once a month in non-training cycles and 2x a month when I’m training harder. I try to go on Monday after a Saturday long run. In between massage, I will foam roll or use The Stick, a tennis ball or even a wall to get what feels tight.
3. I keep my weight down (ish). I weigh a good deal more than I look like I weigh (not tellin’), but a lot less than I used to weigh, which is when I had actual pain from scoliosis. I was also working a desk job then, so not sure how much posture played into that. Running obviously has a lot to do with that. So does nutrition (they say you can’t outrun a bad diet). And you better believe that weight training does too, since muscle keeps your metabolism firing. My theory: the less weight you carry on a crooked structure, the better your crooked structure (and everything attached to it) will function.
4. I keep my core strong. This has been crucial. Right now I’ve slacked on my core work since the gym where I do BodyPump has cancelled the core class I went to for three years. I need to get it back in there, because 5 minutes twice a week for BodyPump ain’t cutting it. I like 8 minute abs cause it’s fast, good, and the outfits the guy wears are awesome. Trust me. But I’m open to suggestions, if you have a quick abs workout you like please let me know. Oh, and by ‘abs’ I mean ‘everything from your chest to the tops of your legs, front and back.’ CORE. I would love to do more pilates but it hasn’t worked out for my schedule or my wallet… yet.
5. I see a chiropractor. Every week. It’s just something I do, like running. My chiropractor and I are very close. She’s been at my house on Christmas; I photographed her wedding. My thought is: I want things to be lined up as much as possible within the limits of my wonky spine. Her goal is: No further curviness or degneration.
If you have scoliosis, and want to run, more than anything–be patient. Accept that your body may or may not be on a remedial running journey. Be open to new things–new shoes, new therapies, changes to your form. I find running works way better for me than the elliptical or the bike because it doesn’t expect my body to be symmetrical. So far, running seems to have very few expectations of me, and I love it for that.