Scoliosis Exercise

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There are many schools of thought regarding scoliosis exercises, and the overall relationship among exercises for scoliosis. Muscle fiber type dictates how a muscle responds to force/load principles. There are different fiber types in skeletal muscle not to mention many layers of muscles in the spine and pelvis. The deeper we go into the spinal column and evaluate the muscle structure it becomes obvious that the muscle length gets shorter and the fiber type becomes more populated with TYPE 1 non fatigable antigravity musculature.

This means that deep muscle groupings like the mutifidi serve to support the body relative to gravity and also have the largest ability to alter the structural position of a single vertebrae. Since scoliosis has apical vertebrae(the vertebrae at the apex of the scoliosis curve) which appear on both dissection and on radiographic evaluation to be grossly displaced relative to what is considered normal anatomical position it would be logical to assume that these deep muscles would be strong on one side and weak on the other. Unfortunately this assumption is false. Neurologically the brain controls the on-off switch for antigravity musculature and is in direct response to several sensory systems including the joint and muscle receptors of our feet, pelvis, trunk, and neck, our inner ears, and our eyes. These create receptors feed input to the brain , the brain then sends a motor signal to these muscles telling them to turn on or off.

Sherrington's law of reciprocal innervation dictates that an agonist and antagonist muscle group has a neurological system that allows the agonist(mover) to contract while the antagonist automatically will not contract to allow the movement to occur. In the tonic antigravity system since movement is not the primary function of these muscles. These deep muscles contain a very complex system that actually allows for shortening and lengthening reactions to control the center mass of the body in gravity so we don’t fall over. What happens is small changes in the environment are sensed and the tonic muscles adapt instantly through millions of shortening and lengthening responses to stabilize us, VERY COOL!

So if we look at the spine and how it functions we can see that deeper muscles are shorter and densely populated with automatic muscle to ensure upright integrity is not lost. Superficial muscles are longer and cover greater distance gaining mechanical advantage during movement. Spinal position on x-ray studies therefore is largely a result of intrinsic deep muscles which control a bones position in gravity. These muscles being automatic and not controlled by conscious signals would not be influenced as much by active conscious exercises as they would by a RE-ACTION to an external environmental stimulus, especially one that required a change in balance. Since the body has an existing program of how it aligns our center masses with gravity and this program originates in the brain then exercises which cause the brain to change this program would be very effective in causing or rather influencing the deep intrinsic antigravity musculature that directly controls bone position on x-rays. Neuromuscular reeducation by adding weight to change the body’s mass of the head, torso and pelvis will cause the body to change its pattern by directing the antigravity muscle to shorten and lengthen in order to reestablish balance with gravity. Now add on top of this an unstable surface to further enhance this reorganization you have a direct way if done repeatedly of influencing bone position via brain output. Re-Action based exercises will ultimately have a greater influence over a scoliosis than active exercises.

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