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Among school-age children, scoliosis is the most common deformity. Each year, nearly 450,000 hospital visits are made by children with scoliosis. It is a serious condition that requires extensive treatment. The burden of scoliosis bracing on life quality can be severe.  
A study has shown that children with scoliosis have lower self-esteem compared to children with other common conditions. A 12-year-old child facing the possibility of being braced for life must wonder what their future holds. What sports can I play?
Days are gone when you had to sit out of all physical activities during treatment. A new generation of lighter and flexible braces is available for your child to wear during physical activities.
Benefits of Sports for Mental Health
A plethora of studies have found that active lifestyles reduce stress and contribute to mental well-being. What does scoliosis have to do with this?
Scoliosis is a physical condition that causes major debilitating pain. A scoliotic child starts to feel his scoliosis affecting his life quality at an early age. What is more worrisome than scoliosis is the possibility of being braced for life and scoliosis treatment side effects such as back pain, a rib hump, shoulder pain, headaches, and so on. The scoliosis brace can be uncomfortable to wear during physical activities.
Scoliotic children are less physically active than their peers without scoliosis. They spend more time in sedentary activities such as watching TV or playing computer games. It is not surprising then that scoliotic children have a higher body mass index (BMI) and more scoliosis treatment side effects.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. While many parents are not aware of it, there are many sports a child can enjoy, whether they are dealing with scoliosis bracing or not.
What Sports Are Safe for Scoliosis?
Cobb angles are used to determine the severity of scoliosis. The Cobb angle is measured by taking two X-ray pictures of your child’s back; one while they are standing straight and another when they are bending forward. The difference between these two measurements is expressed in degrees (angle), with smaller numbers representing less severe scoliosis.
Scoliosis brace restrictions vary according to the type of scoliosis your child is dealing with:

  • Cobb angles up to 40 degrees: The main concern is that they don’t cause back pain during physical activities.
  • Cobb angles of 40-50 degrees: The main concern is that they don’t cause rib hump or shoulder pain during physical activities
  • Cobb angles of more than 50 degrees: The main concern is that they don’t cause severe rib hump or shoulder pain.

Here are some of the sports that are generally good for children with scoliosis bracing, no matter the severity of their condition:

  • Swimming:  Aquatic activities are great for scoliosis patients. Being weightless in water helps to minimize pain and stress on the spine. Swimming also strengthens the core muscles, which help with balance and coordination. Your child may want to take swimming lessons together with their friends. It is a good way for them to stay active while still taking care of their scoliosis.
  • Soccer: Soccer is a great sport for kids with scoliosis bracing because it requires good balance and coordination. Scoliotic children tend to have poor balance and coordination, so playing soccer can help them improve these skills, which will help them not only in sports but also in their daily lives.
  • Cycling:  Cycling is another low-impact sport that helps scoliosis patients stay active. It strengthens the core muscles which help with balance and coordination as well as improving cardiovascular endurance. Cycling can also help your child with minimizing pain.
  • Yoga: Yoga is a great way to help scoliotic children improve their balance and coordination. It can also strengthen the muscles that are weakened by scoliosis bracing. What makes yoga even better is that it doesn’t involve much strain on the spine, so your child’s risk of getting back pain during physical activities is minimal.

Sports That Should be Avoided by Kids with Scoliosis Bracing
Some sports should be completely avoided by scoliosis patients, regardless of the severity of their condition:

  • Gymnastics, Ballet, and Dance:  These sports require your child to be in very precise positions for an extended amount of time. Any wrong move can worsen their scoliosis condition, so these activities are not the best idea.
  • Football: Scoliotic children should not play football because it requires significant physical contact. Accidentally bumping into another player or falling on the ground could make their condition worse.
  • Weightlifting: Weightlifting puts a lot of strain on your child’s spine, so if they are dealing with scoliosis bracing, they should avoid this activity altogether. Even healthy children should not think about weightlifting, since it can hinder their development.
  • Basketball:  Scoliotic children should avoid playing basketball as well because it requires a lot of physical contact. A wrong move or fall can worsen their scoliosis condition.

All sports have risks involved. However, if your child is dealing with scoliosis bracing, it is important that they focus on low-impact activities to minimize their risk of back pain.
You will also want to make sure that your child wears their scoliosis brace while participating in any physical activity, even if it is low-impact. A good idea would be for your child to wear their scoliosis brace while playing these sports with their friends or siblings. That way they still get the exercise they need but make sure their scoliosis condition doesn’t worsen.
Keep Your Child Active and Safe!
Whether a child or an adult is suffering from scoliosis and is in a need of scoliosis bracing, there’s no real reason why they should not participate in sports. Of course, it’s important to avoid activities that will put pressure on the spine and make the condition worse. 
It’s well worth consulting with a specialist, to make sure you’re participating in sports in a way that’s not only safe, but that will also assist your treatment. Feel free to contact the Align Clinic today via phone, email, or fax, and schedule an appointment. ​