Anatomy of downward-facing dog from a scoliosis perspective

Adho Mukha Svanasana is definitely one of the basic poses a yoga practitioner would dive into. Is it simple? Yes! Is it difficult? Also yes for people with scoliosis! For practitioners with scoliosis, our curves are different on the spine, and asanas on both sides might be extremely different. Not only that, the attached ribs push sideways and forward on the concave side while collapsing towards the spine, forming a rotation of the ribs on the convex side. The ribs on the convex side often protrude to the back, frequently causing tense and painful muscles over those bones. Therefore, it is important for us to find poses that could lengthen the erector spinae to strengthen our back muscles in order to reduce muscle pains (consisting of longissimus thoracis, spinalisis thoracis, iliocostalis lumborum). 

So the best pose? Adho Mukha Svanasana! 

Anatomy of normal downward facing dog: 

  1. The shoulders (rotator cuff, triceps, deltoids) – externally rotated shoulders firmly pressed onto the ground, with the deltoids and triceps in concentric contraction. 
  2. The spine – trapezius, and erector spinae are lengthened and in concentric contraction for strengthening. 
  3. The lower body – posterior muscles (gluteal maximus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius) are in eccentric contraction while the anterior muscles (quadriceps, anterior tibialis, soleus) are in concentric contraction. 

 

Anatomy of downward facing dog from a scoliosis perspective: 

  1. The shoulders (rotator cuff, triceps, deltoids) – externally rotated shoulders firmly pressed onto the ground, with the deltoids and triceps in concentric contraction. 
  2. The spine – trapezius, and erector spinae are lengthened and in concentric contraction for strengthening. Things may get funny and effy here since our weight distribution may differ accordingly to our concave and convex sides. One must be conscious to pull their convex side in and concave side out to further deepen the stretch over the erector spinae. 
  3. The lower body – posterior muscles (gluteal maximus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius) are in eccentric contraction while the anterior muscles (quadriceps, anterior tibialis, soleus) are in concentric contraction. The lower body must be strong and firmly grounded in order for the upper body to not squirm like a worm.

When done correctly and frequently, it strengthens the entire upper body’s posterior muscles. This is extremely useful for practitioners with scoliosis to correct their curves. 

Namaste, Crystal 

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