Two Questions about Scoliosis and Coordination

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KenDowns
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Two Questions about Scoliosis and Coordination

Post by KenDowns » Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:37 pm

This is about a young man I've known since he was 3 or 4 who is now 18 and really wants to get into shape. He was over last night so we went down to basement and tried out a few things.

Question 1 is about scoliosis. He had surgery 4 years ago to correct a 40 degree curvature. I believe the procedure is called "fusing the vertebrae" but I know nothing more than that. I know the surgeon and can get more details. He currently has a 19 degree curvature. So basically, how much of a problem is this? I've googled around and found only anecdotes, mostly from people who have scoliosis, who seem to say it's fine to lift, though at least one of them stays away from squats.

Question 2 is about general coordination, squats in particular. Before he reminded me of his surgery we started on squats. We went through the routine straight out of Starting Strength, beginning with dropping down, arms between knees, and it looked great. When I put the empty bar on him and he went down he fell over! Power cages are a good thing. Not knowing if it was strength or coordination I gave him a broomstick and we tried again, and it seems he cannot get near parallel without going all out of shape. He either ended up way up on his toes or bending his legs and feet so his entire weight was resting on the outside of his feet, picture the feet turned up at a 45 degree angle. So we called it quits on squats and went to deadlift and press, where no such issues presented themselves. So what is that about? Is that lack of flexibility? Coordination? What might I do with him to help that?

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Re: Two Questions about Scoliosis and Coordination

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sat Oct 01, 2011 8:15 pm

I used to think squatting down meant you lowered your butt and steadied on the front balls of your feet, heels off the ground. I did this for years when pulling weeds or playing catcher in softball games for example. Not sure why, just instinctive, or learned somehow.

I wonder if your pal feels like he's going to fall backwards, so leans to far forward. I did/do.

Maybe have him sit back to a box, like he's sitting on toliet. Also, knees out, feet wider, helped me with this balance issue.

goblet squats also aide.

My attempt to help before the pros get here

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Re: Two Questions about Scoliosis and Coordination

Post by Jungledoc » Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:52 am

A 40 degree scoliosis is pretty extreme. Corrected to 19 sounds better. Does he know how many vertebrae were fused? At what levels? Scoliosis is side-to-side curvature, but people with scoliosis can also have problems in the normal front-to-back curves as well. It's important to understand if his spine is in approximately a normal, neutral curve at rest. This may be the reason that he can't maintain his balance with squatting. He may be better off doing single-leg work, at least at first. He should almost certainly be able to do near-perfict broom-stick squats before adding weight, and should have neutral curvatures front-to-back before trying it. And, yeah, it would be good for him to involve his surgeon in the decisions.

It may be that what Oscar suggested will work for him. If he has fairly neutral curvatures, and his surgeon agrees, starting off the box may be best. He sits on the box in good position for the bottom of a squat, get's his weight over his heels and stands up. When he can do that reliable, then he can do multiple reps, touching down to the box each time. BW at first, then broomstick, then goblet squats then empty bar, then added weight.
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Re: Two Questions about Scoliosis and Coordination

Post by stuward » Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:25 am

Lamar Gant has scoliosis and holds the record in deadlift and a percentage of bodyweight. His bench and squat are not shabby either. Good luck with his training.
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Re: Two Questions about Scoliosis and Coordination

Post by Jungledoc » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:48 pm

stuward wrote:Lamar Gant has scoliosis and holds the record in deadlift and a percentage of bodyweight. His bench and squat are not shabby either. Good luck with his training.
Stu, do you know how severe his scoliosis was/is, and if he's had surgery? I found some brief blurbs about him, but no detailed bio.
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

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Re: Two Questions about Scoliosis and Coordination

Post by stuward » Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:17 am

I saw a picture of his back and it was a remarkable curve. Of cources it was supported by tremendous musculature. I'll look for the picture.

Here's the artcle: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/ ... /index.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Image
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Re: Two Questions about Scoliosis and Coordination

Post by KenDowns » Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:55 pm

Just to follow up, my friend seems to have no problems with any lift except squats, and there the problem seems to be (almost) entirely balance. He can do deep knee bends just fine, but put a broomstick on his back and he just falls over.

We tried box squats and it did not help too much, near the bottom he basically falls onto the box and cannot get back up without a big rock forward to launch himself. But he can deadlift 95# no problem, so I just don't think its pure weakness, but I suppose time will tell. Maybe he's just got nothing when down in the hole.

I've told him to do the body-weight squats as described in Starting Strength every day, and am thinking to start with goblet squats to separate the strength-in-the-hole issue from the balance issue.

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