Self Posture Check! Screening Your Back for Scoliosis or Scoliosis Changes
By Rosemary Marchese (Physiotherapist)
A healthy posture is a great goal to aim for! You can have scoliosis and still make great improvements to your posture in many cases. Checking your back for scoliosis or scoliosis changes is best done by your treating doctor or physiotherapist trained in this area. However there are definitely a few things you, or even your family members, could look out for, to promote a healthy posture. When I am working with patients with scoliosis, the aim is to achieve as much postural correction as we can, without causing new problems somewhere else in the body.
Scoliosis Signs to Look Out For:
If you haven’t been diagnosed with scoliosis, and you want to do a self-posture check, here are some things to look out for:
- One shoulder higher than the other
- One hip higher than the other
- One shoulder blade higher than the other
- Rotation in the hips, trunk or shoulders
- A positive forward bend test, also known as the Adams Test. This is where you bend over and one part of the trunk appear higher, or to have a hump, compared to other side – you will need someone to check this for you! A positive forward bend test is shown in the picture below.
If you are concerned, or you can see any of these signs, you will need to visit your doctor for an assessment.
Checking Your Posture Once You Have Scoliosis
If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis, you will have to work with your doctor to decide on a plan of action that is best for you. However taking positive action towards checking your own posture can be a great way to really help your treatment along. Your physiotherapist should be trained in Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises (PSSE), for example the Schroth method (this is just one method that they may use). Using PSSE is a great way to learn how to improve your posture when you have Scoliosis.
When working on your posture you should be aiming to achieve the best possible correction, but without creating compensations somewhere else. For example, if you are trying to sit and stand taller and hold your body strong for a lumbar scoliosis, you will need to also look after your upper back. When you are exercising, or just getting on with life, you can do the following checks to see how things are moving along during your treatment.
- Are you sitting or standing tall and wide with a strong posture or are you slouching?
- Are you locking your knees or hyperextending them back when you stand?
- Are your hips balanced under your trunk? A good way to check this is to stand with your hands by your side. Is the left arm closer to the left hip compared to the distance between the right arm and right hip? Or vice versa?
- Is your trunk leaning to one side?
- Are your pants or skirt higher on one side of your hip than the other?
- Is one shoulder higher than the other?
- How does your side profile look? Are you too arched or too rounded?
- Is the line between your nose, chin and belly button as straight as it can be?
Of course, it is not easy to achieve symmetry with scoliosis. But you can work with your physiotherapist to improve your posture. Using these simple checks listed above can help empower you to help yourself as well!
About the Author
Rosemary is a physiotherapist with twenty years of experience in physiotherapy, fitness consulting and training. After years of practicing physiotherapy, her passion grew for the physical treatment of Scoliosis. So, she traveled to New York to become certified in the BSPTS Schroth Method of Scoliosis treatment under the Barcelona School of Physical Therapy. She followed this up by attaining the BSPTS C2 Advanced certification in New York. She has traveled overseas multiple times for conferences and further learning including Dubrovnik, San Francisco, Milan and Barcelona. Rosemary is also certified in the Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis (SEAS).