A photo was recently shared in a Facebook forum taken in Chicago, Illinois, 1955 of ‘Miss Correct Posture’ Ruth Williams standing next to her X-ray and trophy.
A ‘scoliosis’ is a curve; front to back or side to side it doesn’t matter – they’re all a form of scoliosis and they have different names. Nobody has a straight spine; it wouldn’t function very well at all if it was straight! Everyone has some degree of front-to-back curve in their low-back, mid-back and neck. Lots of people have a sideways curve (the one typically referred to as a “scoliosis”), most commonly in the mid-back region. Biomechanically a sideways scoliosis has no functional benefit but equally they’re rarely detrimental and certainly shouldn’t be blamed for back pain. Most people with a sideways scoliosis aren’t aware they even have it until someone points it out to them, unless it’s really noticeable, in which case they’ve most likely lived with it all their life without issue.
In the same way that height and weight vary considerably across the population, the degree of spinal curvature(s) also vary considerably. Rarely are they problematic.
The X-ray on the right is of me in standing. Let’s face it, I’m not going to be on any shortlist to win any awards for symmetry. Two of the main reasons why I’m so wonky, is that my left leg is 13mm longer that the right and I have something called Scheuermann’s disease which means several of the vertebrae in my mid-back are ‘wedged’ at the front instead of being rectangular.
In the same way that we cannot tell how someone *feels* from a photo, we cannot tell from an x-ray how they function or whether they’re in pain. Ruth is just as likely to have pain with the trophy winning posture than I am.
Too many people are dis-abled by *suggestion* from well-meaning people regarding their posture, structure and capacity to function. In our world we call is a *nocebo* – something which has a detrimental effect on health produced by psychological or psychosomatic factors such as negative expectations of treatment or prognosis.
There are plenty of people with significant spinal curvatures performing physical feats that the rest of us can only dream of…pain free.