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Thread: to swim or not to swim

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    78

    to swim or not to swim

    Hi guys;

    I have a question about what's the best exercise for our kids.

    Is swimming really the best one or is it just an old wife's tale?

    I keep pushing my 12yo daughter to swim, but she hates it - it's 3-4 times a week for 2 hours (swim team)

    What are her alternatives? For some reason, both my husband and me always thought that swimming is the best for her because of the scoliosis. But what is we are wrong and making her miserable for nothing?

    Thanks for all the help!
    from Boston, MA, USA

    9 y.o. daughter
    07/08 - diagnosed with L23
    10/08 - wait and see: L25
    11/08 - Spinecor: L15
    01/09 - Spinecor: L15
    06/09 - Spinecor: L14
    11/09 - Spinecor: L14
    04/10 (Out-of-brace): L30-T30
    08/10 - out of Spinecor
    01/11 (Out-of-brace): L42-T30
    02/11 - Rigo-Cheneau and Schroth

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    9,317
    The best thing to do is ask your surgeon if there is any evidence that swimming prevents progression. Also maybe Dr. McIntire here would comment. He has a very good chance of knowing about this as PT for scoliosis was his dissertation topic.

    As far as I know, there is no evidence for this whatsoever. Where did you get this idea?

    We had a poster a while back (pearlgirl) who seemed to think her curve improved if she swam regularly but she also said it would increase again if she stopped swimming. She thought that was happening based on repeated height measurements as I recall.

    Swimming might help hold a curve during growth but I doubt it has been studied. For me, I wouldn't make my kid do something she didn't enjoy when there isn't a shred of evidence it will help.

    Good luck.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  3. #3
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    Oct 2008
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    Well, it's not about halting the progression - it's about what sport will she benefit from for her future

    My way of thinking:

    - that's the only sport that does not put any strain on the spine, since it's in the water and it's not vertical.
    - it's the sport that builds back muscles - the ones that will be needed throughout her life to support her bad back

    What other sports can she do to build her back muscles and not put too much strain on the spine in the process?
    from Boston, MA, USA

    9 y.o. daughter
    07/08 - diagnosed with L23
    10/08 - wait and see: L25
    11/08 - Spinecor: L15
    01/09 - Spinecor: L15
    06/09 - Spinecor: L14
    11/09 - Spinecor: L14
    04/10 (Out-of-brace): L30-T30
    08/10 - out of Spinecor
    01/11 (Out-of-brace): L42-T30
    02/11 - Rigo-Cheneau and Schroth

  4. #4
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    I think only Dr. McIntire can answer those questions.

    Good luck.

    (Edited comment about stapling.)
    Last edited by Pooka1; 08-02-2011 at 08:11 AM.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    3,729
    yes, many doctors, including surgeons, recommend swimming as a gentler exercise.....i do not know about swim team, but i do know individual swimming is often recommended for both kids and adults....
    also, exercise in water presents less resistance and is easier for anyone with pain...

    have you asked her doctor if your daughter might benefit from yoga?

    jess

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
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    Pardon my ignorance, but I have not been to this forum for a while, so I don't know who Dr. McIntire is and how to ask him questions
    from Boston, MA, USA

    9 y.o. daughter
    07/08 - diagnosed with L23
    10/08 - wait and see: L25
    11/08 - Spinecor: L15
    01/09 - Spinecor: L15
    06/09 - Spinecor: L14
    11/09 - Spinecor: L14
    04/10 (Out-of-brace): L30-T30
    08/10 - out of Spinecor
    01/11 (Out-of-brace): L42-T30
    02/11 - Rigo-Cheneau and Schroth

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Location
    NC
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellasMom View Post
    Pardon my ignorance, but I have not been to this forum for a while, so I don't know who Dr. McIntire is and how to ask him questions
    He is the only researcher in this field who reads and posts on this forum although he hasn't posted in a while.

    In the meantime, maybe your surgeon can advise you on PT that will strengthen the back muscles without straining the spine although based on Jess' response, he is likely to agree that swimming is good.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    For whatever it's worth, our surgeon has always told us that our daughter can do whatever sport she wants to do. That there is no real evidence that any particular thing helps or hurts. Fitness is what's important for any kid. For a kid that's braced, a sport that helps keep the core strong may be of benefit just because that's what tends to weaken due to bracing. But it's temporary, just poor muscle tone that will repair with exercise at any time. We never had that problem, maybe because she is a rider and uses her core a lot. I think it's more important your daughter is happy and doing a sport she likes for general fitness. We did make our daughter join the swim team this summer, but not because of scoliosis--just because she was not a very strong swimmer and it's the cheapest swim lessons going--and it was only 6 weeks.
    mamandcrm

    G diagnosed 6/08 at almost 7 with 25*
    Providence night brace, increased to 35*
    Rigo-Cheneau brace full-time 12/08-4/10
    14* at 10/09 OOB x-ray
    11* at 4/10 OOB x-ray
    Wearing R-C part-time since 4/10
    latest OOB xray 5/14 13*
    currently going on 13 yrs old

    I no longer participate in this forum though I will update signature from time to time with status

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    78
    Quote Originally Posted by mamandcrm View Post
    But it's temporary, just poor muscle tone that will repair with exercise at any time. .
    Unfortunately, I disagree with this stmt: all PTs that I know personally told me that muscles are on a "use it or lose it" base

    Once you lose it - especially in the brace, it's really hard to build them back and I am trying to prevent exactly that
    from Boston, MA, USA

    9 y.o. daughter
    07/08 - diagnosed with L23
    10/08 - wait and see: L25
    11/08 - Spinecor: L15
    01/09 - Spinecor: L15
    06/09 - Spinecor: L14
    11/09 - Spinecor: L14
    04/10 (Out-of-brace): L30-T30
    08/10 - out of Spinecor
    01/11 (Out-of-brace): L42-T30
    02/11 - Rigo-Cheneau and Schroth

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    299
    Well, as I said, we never had the problem and she's always just done what she wanted, and always wore her hard brace for sports when she was in it full time--lots of sports work the core muscles. Good luck!
    mamandcrm

    G diagnosed 6/08 at almost 7 with 25*
    Providence night brace, increased to 35*
    Rigo-Cheneau brace full-time 12/08-4/10
    14* at 10/09 OOB x-ray
    11* at 4/10 OOB x-ray
    Wearing R-C part-time since 4/10
    latest OOB xray 5/14 13*
    currently going on 13 yrs old

    I no longer participate in this forum though I will update signature from time to time with status

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    68
    Just a thought, but maybe your daughter would enjoy swimming more if she could do it with friends sometimes. Then it wouldn't seem like she's exercising because she has to, but more like a fun activity. She might start to enjoy it more that way.

    I went to PT (including the pool) before my surgery to strengthen my back and try to prevent surgery. And then my nurses told me that if I wasn't so athletic and just had more fat on my back, surgery wouldn't have been quite as painful. So I wonder if strengthening my back was not such a good idea after all.

    But I've found that swimming is really relaxing on my back, both before and after surgery. In the future, I'm sure having a strong back will really help her. Maybe in junior high she could just try volleyball. Serving and spiking are great for strengthening your back, but there is jumping involved. It might bother her back, and it might not. She would know after trying it. Plus, it's a ton of fun, but that's just my opinion. : )
    Last edited by braceyourself; 08-01-2011 at 11:30 AM.
    Katie

    My blog: http://scoliosis-braceyourself.blogspot.com/
    My video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NG9hMohsU0

    5 Boston back braces
    Spinal fusion- Nov. 17, 2009, senior year of high school
    52 and 57 degrees pre-surgery, 22 and 20 degrees post-surgery
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Shriners Children's Hospital, Chicago
    Back into volleyball and music as a senior in college!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    15
    I swam on a team as a child, before my scoliosis was diagnosed and while I loved swimming, I experienced endless frustrations in being on the team that I now understand were because of my deformity. The coaches always wanted us to rotate sides for breathing in freestyle, but it was very hard for me. I could only turn one way - now I know it was because of the way my rib rotation goes. I had a great deal of difficulty with breast stroke - and now I understand that my spine is hypokyphotic and the breathing strained my back at a critical spot. Butterfly presented similar problems - I couldn't pull evenly on both sides and repeatedly ended up on the lane marker. My self esteem was shaken routinely. Swimming on the team and swimming for personal wellness are really different, especially with a spinal deformity, so at the very least, I would hope that if she stays on the team, your daughter's coach would be made aware of her potential limitations.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    78
    Thanks for the insight - yes, her coach is aware of her limitations

    I agree that swimming for the team might be too much, but unfortunately, I can't find any other options

    She is over qualified for any kind of swimming classes at YMCA or such and is not discipline enough to work hard on her own during lap time at any pool
    from Boston, MA, USA

    9 y.o. daughter
    07/08 - diagnosed with L23
    10/08 - wait and see: L25
    11/08 - Spinecor: L15
    01/09 - Spinecor: L15
    06/09 - Spinecor: L14
    11/09 - Spinecor: L14
    04/10 (Out-of-brace): L30-T30
    08/10 - out of Spinecor
    01/11 (Out-of-brace): L42-T30
    02/11 - Rigo-Cheneau and Schroth

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    385
    My son swam before his surgery, while he wore a brace for 3.5 years or so. His core was still very weakened by the brace, despite the swimming. I always encouraged his swimming for the same reasons you do now and luckily he actually likes to swim. He's on his high school swim team and another year-round swim team but he does have some limitations: he can't really do butterfly and for some reason his flutterkick is not strong. Because of his kicking issues, he is usually the slowest kid in his groups on his teams but he actually doesn't really mind this. He just really enjoys the swimming.

    With that said, I don't think your daughter will reap a long-term benefit from her swimming if she doesn't enjoy it. That may change if she continues though, you never know. Prior to my son's surgery, his doctor always wanted to make sure that Alexander was exercising and it didn't seem to matter what sport/exercise he did. If there's something else your daughter would rather do, I'd let her and see how it feels (probably after making sure her doctor thinks it won't harm her).

    My son also did martial arts - aikido and mixed martial arts program and those are also fairly low impact and great for core building.

    Good luck with this. I know it's hard to have what seems like a power struggle over something you know will probably be beneficial.

    Best,
    Laurie

    Mother of Alexander & Zachary:
    Alex is 16 years old and in the 11th grade. He has congenital scoliosis due to a hemivertebrae at T10. Wore a TLSO brace for 3 1/2 years. Pre-op curves were T45 & L65; curves post-op are approx. T31 & L34. Had a posterior spinal fusion from T8 to L3 on 7/12/07 at age 12. Doing great now in so many ways, but still working on improving posture.
    Zach is 13 years old and very energetic.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    78
    Thanks, Laurie, for your input. The problem is she does not like any sports, so we are trying to force her to do something, which is a sport and also at least not bad for her spine
    from Boston, MA, USA

    9 y.o. daughter
    07/08 - diagnosed with L23
    10/08 - wait and see: L25
    11/08 - Spinecor: L15
    01/09 - Spinecor: L15
    06/09 - Spinecor: L14
    11/09 - Spinecor: L14
    04/10 (Out-of-brace): L30-T30
    08/10 - out of Spinecor
    01/11 (Out-of-brace): L42-T30
    02/11 - Rigo-Cheneau and Schroth

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