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I have mild scoliosis and have been told by every doctor I've spoken with to avoid lifting anything heavy. On the other hand, I've met a number of people who have scoliosis and have succeeded in bodybuilding. If anything, they said, their condition made them extra careful, specially when it comes to exercises such as deadlifts and squats.

What is really the scientific consensus when it comes to lifting for people with scoliosis (assuming that the advice I got for the three doctors I spoke with does not represent the general opinion of the medical field)?

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    Defensive medicine is a real thing. Have you consulted a Physical therapist? They would know far more about this than most doctors. Consider changing your question to something that could be answered. I doubt there is a scientific consensus on this as it would be relative to the individual case. – pufferfish Nov 11 '14 at 21:37
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    A physical Therapist is the best person to answer this question after he or she does a proper analysis of your body. – MikeV Nov 11 '14 at 21:59
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    There are varying degrees of scoliosis, so what works for one person with scoliosis is not necessarily good for someone else with scoliosis. That is why you need to listen to your doctors who have seen you. I agree with the above comments that a physical therapist could help you design an appropriate exercise program for you. – BackInShapeBuddy Nov 12 '14 at 3:01
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In general, doctors such especially GPs and those who do not specialize in sports medicine, are often more conservative and will side with caution. (Incidentally, scoliosis isn't the only condition where weightlifting may be discouraged. I have GERD and my gastroenterologist has also advised me to stop weightlifting as both weight gain and the act of lifting itself trigger acid reflux.)

The opinion is slightly different from those of doctors who specialize in sports medicine. After a thorough examination they may or may not recommend weightlifting. Here's what the CHK Sports Medicine Blog has to say:

Those with scoliosis (without surgical intervention) should be encouraged to participate in sports, yet carefully monitor sports with extreme axial loading where an increase in lumbar lordosis is achieved. These activities may include, but are not limited to weight lifting, gymnastics, shot-putting, javelin throwing, rugby, and football. The only restriction would be if they begin experiencing pain. Staying active stimulates self-esteem and physical fitness.

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