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What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine in an S shaped form.  It is a side to side curve of over ten degrees. It can affect any age from before birth (congenital), in young children (early onset), teenagers (adolescent idiopathic) where the scoliosis has developed through puberty/growth and onto adulthood. The curve can change dramatically around the ages of 10-20 years old.  Adolescent scoliosis comprises 80% of cases.

scoliosis Adam's test curvature of the spine
scoliosis curvature of the spine cervical thoracic, lumbar and sacrum

The Scoliosis Handbook

I've been a Personal Trainer for 23 years and I have had 3 scoliosis surgeries.  I was asked to write The Scoliosis Handbook by Liz Bord from the Aspire Leisure Centre based at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) Stanmore.

The Scoliosis Handbook is meant as a dip in / dip out read.  There is a chapter on exercises to avoid (the Don'ts) and one on the Do's.  Scoliosis patients can use the book in the gym as a guide while they are training and also to show their trainer who may be unfamiliar with scoliosis and the conditions various limitations.

There is a TIP page with helpful points from sitting in an airline seat to what to wear under a brace.

I really hope that people find my Handbook helps them to cope dealing with scoliosis every day.

(A percentage of author's royalties from the sales from The Scoliosis Handbook for safe and effective exercise pre and post surgery will  be donated to Aspire Leisure Centre, Association for Spinal Injury Research, Rehabilitation and Reintegration, Registered Charity Number 1075317)

Published by: Hammersmith Health Books

Photography: Sam Pearce -

Images: Hannah Robinson -



example pages of exercises and tips

Shoulder stand
banister spinal stretch
abs abdominal stomach exercise
chest exercise flys with weights
examples of tips


• Exercise as much as you can.

• Keep up with seeing a physiotherapist.

• Keep your back strong.

• If you feel it will help your pain, try having a massage from someone who really knows what they are doing. Research your therapist. Don’t be scared to walk away from someone you feel will do more harm than good.

• If your ribs are very uneven and it is not comfortable to lie flat on the floor, take a small cushion, a wedge or even a soft hoodie to balance your body evenly on the floor. Play around with your positioning to make yourself comfortable.

• Avoid any exercise where you have to put your body further out of alignment.

• Use the mirrors in the gym if you are exercising on your own to check your positioning.

• Be very careful when performing abdominal exercises to keep your legs high so as not to place any extra pressure on your spine.


The repetitive movement of one side of the body is a big no for scoliosis patients, before or after surgery. Before surgery, this is because you will build up the muscles on just one side of your body, depending on whether you are right- or left-handed. After surgery, because you can’t! Your surgeon will most likely advise you not to clean/vacuum for up to six months after surgery. Try to get some cleaning help. Once you are fully recovered, and if you are not able to have any help with daily chores, keep changing your hands, especially when using a vacuum cleaner.


No, you are not crazy. T-shirts do get stretched out of shape with wear. Possibly yours do not look as symmetrical after being worn a few times as when you purchased them. Yes, this is partly due to scoliosis, but it is also down to the fact that most jersey fabric, unless it is super high quality, will twist after washing.

YES – Wonderful!
My surgeon had me swimming every day as soon as I took my brace off, six months after my first two surgeries. It tones your body. It is very safe – you really can’t do much damage. Lovely for stretching too in the pool.
Just watch out with front crawl – I always find that, as my arms do not fully rotate, I end up swimming into other people! Ditto with backstroke.

Use the child booster cushions often provided if the seats are old and too soft. Immediately post surgery, you may be too uncomfortable to sit for any length of time. Try waiting six months before you go. Don’t worry about walking out if your back hurts. It’s not worth suffering during and after.

BATHING A BABY/TODDLERI recommend getting someone else to help!In scoliosis post surgery, the spine is fused, so kneeling over a bath, bathing and picking up a baby will cause strain in the upper thoracic spine. The vertebrae that are not fused will take the strain and this may cause soreness and discomfort.If possible, arrange for a relative/friend/nanny/maternity nurse to come in for a couple hours to help, especially from newborn as this is when your back will be most vulnerable. Maternity nurses can be very expensive, so it is worth asking any newly qualified baby nurses/midwives if they can do a few nights at a more reasonable cost in order to get the work experience. Ask in your ward at the hospital. Some agencies send their newly qualified maternity nurses out on work experience, so it’s worth calling to ask.Raising the baby bath on to the top of a surface at waist level will avoid stooping over.


If you know how to skate, then it’s up to you. Beginners, if you fall you will be very sore and could damage your back.

Useful Contacts

ASPIRE supporting people with spinal injury

020 8954 5759

Aspire Leisure Centre
020 8954 5759

SAUK Scoliosis Association UK

helpline 020 8964 1166

general enquiries 020 8964 5343 or

John Rutherford MCSP HCPC  physiotherapist

020 7935 4750 / 07850699534

Liz Bord fitness instructor (cardiac rehab instructor)



Press enquiries please contact:

Read Media 07837 485642 

Publishing enquiries please contact:

Hammersmith Books 

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