Serial Case Reporting Yoga for Idiopathic and Degenerative Scoliosis: my justification for the side plank

Should  a client with Scoliosis perform the side Plank? I think so, as a strong side plank, when  matched with a strong plank and a good “brace” means the torso is “nice and locked down” ( highly scientific stuff)
The paper, “Serial Case Reporting Yoga for Idiopathic and Degenerative Scoliosis” came to my attention as it was reported In the Wall street Journal. I chased the actual study down to  an obscure Journal
Global advances in Health and Medicine.
So, it  got some people to perform the side plank
“Results: The mean self-reported practice of the side plank was 1.5 minutes per day, 6.1 days per week, for a mean follow-up period of 6.8 months. Among all patients, a significant improvement in the Cobb angle of the primary scoliotic curve of 32.0% was found. Among 19 compliant patients, the mean improvement rose to 40.9%. Improvements did not differ significantly among adolescent idiopathic and degenerative subtypes (49.6% and 38.4%, respectively).
Conclusions: Asymmetrically strengthening the convex side of the primary curve with daily practice of the side plank pose held for as long as possible for an average of 6.8 months significantly reduced the angle of primary scoliotic curves. These results warrant further testing”
My own take on this  is that  no harm resulted from this experiment, and it makes sense to test  strengthening both sides. The core  and torso needs to be braced: lets do it all! I should say the self reporting , does not make this the best evidence ever, but , interesting . The side plank is used by Stuart McGill in the treatment of back pain. It seems safe, if monitored, to use and test.
We will see how my client responds

will this help clients with scoliosis?
will this help clients with scoliosis?

So I screwed my back again

I always like re -injuring my back, as it really helps me cut through the academic and medical bullshit.
Its very common for us to over sympathise with  and “forgive” back pain sufferers .
We should not.
Every single bit of “normal”  back pain  is self inflicted. (m not talking about the weird obscure stuff that effects  a teeny proportion of back sufferers). Im talking about our old friend , the non specific back pain stuff that is now costing the NHS loads of money.
Anyway , today  I pulled my back in gymnastics. Obviously i could go on a campaign: one that bans gymnastics, and  stops gymnasts from holding high office. Gymnasts should be rounded up and shot. Certainly banned from schools,
You will find lots of campaigns like this: Ban Crossfit, ban strength training, Olympic weightlifting . If you come across someone  trying to ban something, look at their personal involvement and see if their conclusion is reasonable. Being knocked down by a car, does not justify a ban on cars: iI may justify a lower speed limit, more education for pedestrians etc.
So, I screwed my back doing gymnastics? Well, actually yes and no. Here is the whole story.
1) over the last month, my focus has slipped. I found myself more and more in my slumping place, slumping. I have done no “good core” enhancing exercise. My hip and shoulder flexibility regimes have wobbled.
2) On wednesday I booked  myself quite a tough day: 3 hours driving ( I rarely drive) and 8 hours standing about ( i was an extra in film set)
3) On thursday, apart from one gymnastic training session ( 1 hour) i slopped around the flat. I slumped and hunched.
4) On thursday night, i had a terrible night: I got up late on Friday, and  after skipping breakfast I went to gymnastics. I did my normal 1 hour session 10  to 11), but as warm up and  planned to start my coached session straight after. I had felt my 1st back twinge at 10.50, but continued  after a quick rest.  At 11.10m, my  coached session began and at 11.20 a slightly wrong back flick, brought the pain flashing up. While I could still move. I stopped.
So here was the story. Id stopped all my recommended exercises and began slumping. In short, i wasn’t building up my back balance as Stuart McGill tells us to do, and I was “spending” back capacity like water. That said, I had still got through my basic “back buck spending” sport. and then, at the end of a terrible week, i thought i should push my luck by adding an extra hour.
I’m a pratt and  I deserve every scrap of pain!!

Bracing sequence: Kelly Starretts sequence

Kelly Starrett suggests an interesting bracing sequence for core stability in his book “Becoming a Supple Leopard”.
1) stand up straight and squeeze your glutes together: leave your pelvis neutral:
2) pull your ribcage down ( a bit). “balance your ribcage over your pelvis”
3) Tight belly ( I think he tries to please the old Suck your tummy brigade here) I say, brace your abs “A la” Stuart McGill. “Push Out”.(I’ll do a specific blog post on this) I think Kelly also mentions Intra abdominal pressure. This I think is an old fashioned blind alley idea : However his core ( excuse the pun) idea is correct: “tighten up your tummy”. He also, correctly talks about being able to breath with a tightened core.
4) set your head in neutral, shoulders down, I’d add the McGill “anti shrug” here to engage the lats. Long arms. Thumbs forward.

scapular strength

I had a nasty injury last week so this blog fell quiet.  I did however get to spend some time with the world famous Stuart McGill, so I’ve had some time to think about back posture and to merge those thoughts with gymnastic practices.

Over the weekend, I saw compulsive evidence that the lordotic posture is ideally protective of the back. In gymnastics we  often use a kyphotic posture, but this posture may not be the best for back health. Sports are frequently fun: they are not necessarily healthy.

At this stage, Ill accept the kyphotic posture is essential, but, why not try and train as much as we can in a lordotic posture to promote back health. At the time I was thinking of training straddle lift to handstand,  This is often trained as  a vertebrae by vertebrae pull. Coach Sommer argues for  a “jefferson curl” where the trainee lowers a bar by flexing through the spine.

One of the factors in  the straddle lift is a strong shoulder pull, so I slung this exercise together to train shoulder strength, while maintaining a neutral spin

you can start with the arms further back
If you load with dumbbells , you may need your arms to go a bit wider


Drills that substitute weights for gymnastics are not ideal, so this is an extra, cannot get to the gymnanstic gym, drill. it does strengthen the shoulder and preserve the back