Scoliosis causes a sideways curvature of the spine. It can occur in people of any age but most commonly begins between the ages of 10 and 15. Treatment can improve scoliosis and sometimes, in mild cases, it’s not even needed.
Kyphosis is a similar condition which causes a very rounded upper part of the back. It’s caused by an excessive outward curve of the spine.
Conversely, Lordosis – a severe inward curve of the spine – causes an exaggerated curve in the lumbar region of the back.
Physical Activity with Scoliosis
Therapeutic exercise is recommended in many cases of Scoliosis or other spinal conditions as neuromuscular retraining can help treat the curvature of the spine.
However, in terms of general physical exercise, people with Scoliosis can take part in a number of activities. Some sports, such as impact sports, are particularly unhelpful in supporting these conditions but there many excellent alternatives such as swimming and cycling.
Cycling for Scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine
We are always guided by the advice of the customer’s healthcare provider when dealing with curvatures of the spine – however, it is a very common condition and the advice we most commonly hear from clinicians is that gentle exercise that promotes self support of the spine is the best therapy and preferable to artificial support.
In such cases, we aim to stabilise the pelvis and lower spine, so the area of curvature is self supporting but not subject to excessive rocking or lateral movement. This is usually best achieved with a simple low back support and laterals, positioned just above the hips at waist height, each of which are in close supportive contact with the body whilst not causing a pressure point. This gives stability to the lower lumbar area below the level of support, and provides a stable foundation for the curvature above.
Pelvic support is also available, but if the pelvis is swaying or rocking sideways across the saddle, this is often caused by problems with the leg setup – for example, the legs become too stretched when fully extended, or they are both over stretched or contracted due to an over long pedal crank. Hard cycling with a low sitting geometry trike can also cause this problem, however the design of conventional Tomcat trikes are designed to overcome this as the pedals are located more or less beneath the saddle, like a conventional bicycle rather than far in front of it. If the geometry of the trike is appropriate and the setup correct, a well fitting trunk support at waist height will usually be all that is needed to resolve these issues.
Occasionally the rider will want to use a prescribed body support in the form of a molded shell or a more flexible body stocking solution such as Second Skin™ postural splint. The former is very easy to work with as the hard shell easily supports and positions the trunk whilst the user never feels the contact points of the backrest or laterals. The latter requires a more general postural support setup, little different to the process used for a client without a postural splint.
Where the rider shows a tendency to lean heavily to left or right, raising the lateral support on one side only, will create a counterbalance support that will encourage a straighter posture. This can be further improved by non symmetrical lateral supports where the support in the direction of curvature is closer to the centreline of the trike than the opposite support.
Adjusting the trunk support and cycling geometry of a trike when cycling with scoliosis or a curvature of the spine is a complex and skilled task, however very good results can usually be achieved. As with correct setup of the legs, providing the best support solution for a curvature of the spine is a complex and very individual process but Tomcat has a team of experts who are able to advise on a bespoke or customised solution whilst providing professional adjustment and setup.