I have scoliosis and also going to gym at least 2 times in a week.

For 2 years all my gym coaches said me "deadlifts" and "squats" are not suitable for scoliosis because it's pressing the back too much. So I never did these exercises.

Now I find a website (http://www.scoliosisworkouts.com/) and this website's workout program it's suggesting deadlift and squat. I'm not sure if I should trust them.

Squat : http://www.scoliosisworkouts.com/index.php/strength-training-for-the-back/2-uncategorised/12-rami-s-workout

Deadlift : http://www.scoliosisworkouts.com/index.php/strength-training-for-the-back/2-uncategorised/17-fat-burning-leaning-workout

I really want to do these exercises because my back and my legs are weak. But i'm really wondering if they harm my back because of my scoliosis.

Are these exercises suitable for scoliosis?

  • I have noticeable scoliosis, yet never severe enough for surgery. I have squatted and deadlifted for over 25 years now and was squatting about 650 at peak. Can you do these lifts? Absolutely. But if your case is more severe you might want to work with a doctor. In severe cases you will need to limit the weight so there isn't force put on lower back.
    – DMoore
    Jul 9, 2016 at 0:11
  • I hope it's not 650 kilograms :)) @DMoore I've tried squat once and there is no pain in my back. So maybe I can do squats? But I don't know when to stop putting new weights to bar and worrying about injuring my back.
    – Eray
    Jul 9, 2016 at 1:33
  • I am assuming you have gone to a doctor before. I was diagnosed in elementary school by the nurse's yearly check and then went to the doctor a few times. He never told me what I could or couldn't do. I am assuming you are in the same boat. If you are do what you can do and start slow. If you get to the point where you feel like you don't know talk to your doctor. The only issues squatting I have had are slip discs which is probably a product of too much weight for my frame.
    – DMoore
    Jul 9, 2016 at 2:29
  • I went to doctor once, and he said I have scoliosis. But he didn't tell anything about therapy. My scoliosis isn't visible in first sight (difference of my shoulders is really little) but visible with x-ray. I have back pain when I lift too much weight or when I stand up too much. (BTW, I've travelled whole western europe with my 30 kilograms backpack with a little pain) . In my country, doctors' sport education is too low and usually they are saying "don't lift weights" because they don't any idea about gyms and exercises.
    – Eray
    Jul 9, 2016 at 17:25
  • We are talking about nonsense. Who the hell are your gym teachers? Who cares what they say? Either just do it or get a doctors OK. It is useless getting advice on here. Also the site you are referring to has nothing really "scoliosis" related. It is just about working out. If you are functional with scoliosis building muscle in your back and neck will help. I have never heard of someone building too much muscle. I suggest that you start squatting - today - with really light weight. Work up to 100lbs. See how you feel. Then go talk to doctor.
    – DMoore
    Jul 9, 2016 at 22:09

2 Answers 2


I'm a personal trainer and have worked with a fair amount of clients with scoliosis. From those diagnosing themselves with it to those who've had their spine fused from T1 to L4, for 30 years.

My general rule with them is I'm simply more careful with any loading of their spine to start. We can't say we won't load their spine at all though. After all, walking, holding a bag, that loads the spine.

Here are a few examples of what we might do-

  • Rather than barbell squat, we'll Goblet squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXCBZe7j284 (You can see that woman leaning to her right. She had some scoliosis.)
  • Rather than deadlift, we'll do Pull-throughs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXlD1qCJOZo
  • With most clients, I'll shoot for something like adding 5lbs a week to their lifts. With one of these people, I might make it 5lbs every other week for anything involving the back.

I don't have any hard rules, and don't think you can have them, because each person is going to be too different to paint a brush. For instance, I promise you no research study was going to help me handle the client with the majority of her spine fused, from a surgery that happened 30 years ago.

Some other general rules I have though are,

  • If the person was diagnosed as a kid, I'm more careful with them than
  • If the person says they didn't know they had it til they were e.g. 30 years old, then that might simply be functional scoliosis (not an actual bony abnormality), and in that case I'm more concerned with seeing if we can "straighten them out"

Said another way, if a person was diagnosed young, then you're going to have to accept some asymmetrical movement. If they were diagnosed late, then you might be able to keep them straight while working out. If you can keep them straight, you don't have to be as concerned with loading the spine.

(In my experience, another easy way to differentiate these people is those who have congenital scoliosis often stand out. It's obvious by quickly glancing at them. If you need a protractor to figure it out, it's not worth worrying about much.)

Lastly, there is no reason to get married to certain exercises. Back squatting, deadlifting, these aren't necessary lifts to be in good shape. There are plenty of alternatives.

In many cases I had to avoid these because the person wasn't comfortable with loading their back in those fashions. It's not like I'm going to try and convince them to deadlift or squat then. If they're good with walking lunges or leg pressing, so am I.


Common sense is that you avoid any load on your back, and expecially from squats and deadlifts ( direct putting load on vertebrae ).

Anecdotal experience is not reliable at all.

Here is a study that shows how a load can worsen idiopatic scoliosis ( that is the less severe case and reversible ).

Even if its a transient load and not a constant one, I wouldnt recommend it.

P.S. Those workout you linked are absolute garbage: not a single indication and just no consideration of any personal characteristic, they are just there to be. No mention to squat or dead for scoliosis.

  • Common sense is not reliable at all, and that study does not state that a load can worsen idiopathic scoliosis, it states that wearing a heavy, unbalanced backpack can make it more difficult to balance while wearing the backpack. Sep 12, 2018 at 0:39

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