Serial Case Reporting Yoga for Idiopathic and Degenerative Scoliosis: my justification for the side plank

Should  a client with Scoliosis perform the side Plank? I think so, as a strong side plank, when  matched with a strong plank and a good “brace” means the torso is “nice and locked down” ( highly scientific stuff)

The paper, “Serial Case Reporting Yoga for Idiopathic and Degenerative Scoliosis” came to my attention as it was reported In the Wall street Journal. I chased the actual study down to  an obscure Journal

Global advances in Health and Medicine.

So, it  got some people to perform the side plank

“Results: The mean self-reported practice of the side plank was 1.5 minutes per day, 6.1 days per week, for a mean follow-up period of 6.8 months. Among all patients, a significant improvement in the Cobb angle of the primary scoliotic curve of 32.0% was found. Among 19 compliant patients, the mean improvement rose to 40.9%. Improvements did not differ significantly among adolescent idiopathic and degenerative subtypes (49.6% and 38.4%, respectively).

Conclusions: Asymmetrically strengthening the convex side of the primary curve with daily practice of the side plank pose held for as long as possible for an average of 6.8 months significantly reduced the angle of primary scoliotic curves. These results warrant further testing”

My own take on this  is that  no harm resulted from this experiment, and it makes sense to test  strengthening both sides. The core  and torso needs to be braced: lets do it all! I should say the self reporting , does not make this the best evidence ever, but , interesting . The side plank is used by Stuart McGill in the treatment of back pain. It seems safe, if monitored, to use and test.

We will see how my client responds

will this help clients with scoliosis?
will this help clients with scoliosis?

Be careful of your deadlift form: why sport science reports can mislead you

Much of the development of human movement comes from coaches comparing techinques. Better coaches hang out with other coaches, go on their courses, read their blogs, learn, analyse, video, and humbly put stuff up for criticism.  Many sport science papers purport to do the same thing. However, the only value of  a report of an experiment is, if you can reproduce the experiment yourself.

Do you remember those basic physics and chemistry experiments we did at school? We followed the exact doses, mixed , shook, heated and retreated to a safe distance. The instructions told us, how much, in what container , in what proportion. to what temperature.

This often isn’t the case in sport science journals. Sport scientists  casually say they are testing the efficacy of , say,  the deadlift and squat but often fail to explain what they mean. This frequently means back specialists often prescribe or ban  movements where there is no correct understanding about what the movement is and how to perform it. I often see clients who have been banned from performing movements they do well and perfectly, and being set drills and movements, which, clearly, the  instructor had not the faintest idea of the correct form or the correct mechanics .

The picture here is from a leading book on back issues and is supposed to be the correct form of the deadlift. It is, unfortunately not brilliant, (probably for all the best reasons), but, if you  deadlifted in this way, you would , eventually, overload your back ( as always, poor form needs to be mixed with  repetition and  escalating load weight  to be truly nasty).

This is not an attack on sport scientists ( I do that elsewhere). After all,  all research is useful , it is a plea to look for the instructions or method in the report you are reading. Can you reproduce what they did? If not, treat the information with caution.

We will post later the correct way to deadlift.

Scoliosis research

Although its a bit away from the Backaholic agenda, I’m doing some  research on the efficacy of exercise on Scoliosis, using human Guinea Pigs (easer to feed, less pouch room). Ill park some generic observations and research on  this site, so we can all see where this is going.

Role of exercise in treatment of scoliosis: A quote from “Physical exercises in the treatment of idiopathic scoliosis at risk of brace treatment – SOSORT consensus paper”

“Exercise based therapies, alone or in combination with orthopedic approaches, are a logical approach to improve and maintain flexibility and function in patients at risk for pain, pulmonary dysfunction, and progression. Data from the Schroth clinic in Bad Sobernheim, Germany reveal improved pulmonary function  and reduced pain  in response to an intensive scoliosis in-patient rehabilitation (SIR) regime. Among the small number of studies which have examined it formally progression was less in patient populations who were treated with exercise [reviewed in (Negrini 2003)

The role of exercise based therapies as discussed in the spine literature has been controversial, however, with often-repeated claims that research has shown that such approaches are ineffective in treating scoliosis . A systematic review of articles published in English throughout history produced no data in support of such claims (Hawes 2003) . As pointed out by Focarile et al., in 1991, ‘Experimental controlled studies of different therapies seem to be justified both on ethical and scientific grounds.’

Hawes M. The use of exercise in the treatment of scoliosis: an evidence-based critial review of the literature. Ped Rehab. 2003;6:171–18

Negrini S, Antonini G, Carabalona R, Minozzi S. Physical exercises as a treatment for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. A systematic review. Ped Rehab. 2003;6:227–235. doi: 10.1080/13638490310001636781.

And maybe you should twitch

inspired by  a re-reading this report:
Effectiveness of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Treatment of Hyperalgesia and Pain

and talking to a former (100% cured,) Backaholic, i was  encouraged to drag out from the bottom of the wardrobe, my old “Bodi-tek” machine.

I  bought  a “Bodi tek”  years  ago  (seriously, 2001, 2002) when I thought it would improve my Martial arts.

In my favour i only used it once. I sat there covered in those patches. Twitching.

However,  there is, at certain levels, a validity to the electro stimulation of muscles and, well, according to the report above, some use in the therapeutic relief of pain.

To be honest,  as I write, I am reminded that , about 2 years ago, when  a sales rep from “firefly” came a calling, I got this machine out again, slapped it on various leg lower leg muscles and it seemed to help my achilles tendonopathy ( along with massage, trigger point therapy and some taping) So, if we, in the future, ask you to lie on the massage couch for a short while, hook you up,  and make you  twitch, you’ll know the reason why.

Interesting to see if we can effect the piriformis  thinking about it.