USAIN BOLT made history when he officially became the fastest man on earth. An eight-time Olympic gold medalist and 11 time world champion, the star is still considered one of the most successful sprinters of all time. However, what people might not know is that the athlete achieved it all with a disabling health condition.
In an interview with ESPN the 100 meter Olympic champion explained that he has been dealing with scoliosis since he was young. The condition causes the spine to twist and curve to the side, and can cause severe back pain in both children and adults. Dealing with the condition, as well as aiming to be the best in his industry, Bolt had to figure out the best way to manage his condition so that it would not affect his career.
Speaking about his scoliosis in the interview Bolt revealed some of his secrets into how he has still managed to achieve so much.
He said: “When I was younger it wasn’t really a problem. But you grow and it gets worse.
“My spine’s really curved bad [makes “S” shape with finger]. But if I keep my core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn’t really bother me.
“So I don’t have to worry about it as long as I work hard. The early part of my career, when we didn’t really know much about it, it really hampered me because I got injured every year.”
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The Mayo Clinic explains that most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some curves worsen as children grow.
The more severe the curve, the more disabling the condition becomes, as the condition reduces the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for lungs to function properly.
The first apparent signs and symptoms of scoliosis include the following:
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- Uneven shoulders
- One shoulder blade that appears more prominent than the other
- Uneven waist
- One hip higher than the other
- One side of the rib cage jutting forward
- A prominence on one side of the back when bending forward.
Revealing more about his condition within his autobiography, Bolt said that his condition has left him with physical side effects.
Specifically, the athlete’s right leg is shorter than his left. Due to his right leg being half an inch shorter, his left leg remains on the ground 14 percent longer than his right when he is running at top speeds, Express says.
Despite speculation, there is no evidence to suggest that this has either helped or hindered Bolt with his career success.
Although there is no confirmation as to how much of an effect his condition has had on his professional sporting career, Bolt revealed on Twitter back in September of this year that the condition had never been rectified with spinal correction surgery.
Replying to a curious user, who simply asked if he had ever had his scoliosis operation on, Bolt replied with one word: “No”.
The NHS explains that depending on an individual’s age and how severe the curvature of the spine is, treatment options vary. Many people do not require treatment and only a small number actually receive surgery on their spine.
Alternative treatments depend on the age of the individual, with babies, toddlers and older children often using back braces to stop the curve from worsening whilst they grow.
For adults who are fully grown and are still struggling with scoliosis, painkillers, spinal injections and in some rare cases surgery is used to manage the condition.
As Bolt also revealed, exercise and keeping in top form helps his scoliosis, something that the NHS also recommends.
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A new research study mentioned by Medical News Today, claims that a single yoga pose every day may improve the spinal curvature for scoliosis patients in as little as three months.
According to Dr. Loren Fishman of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, NY, the simple pose known as the “side plank” can improve spine curvature if done on the side that the spine is curved towards, for 10-20 seconds each day.
The researchers found that spine curvature improved by around 32 percent over all patients. Among 19 patients who did the yoga pose for at least three days a week, spine curvature improved by 40.9 percent.
Commenting on findings researchers said: “Asymmetrically strengthening the convex side of the primary curve with daily practice of the side plank pose held for as long as possible for an average of 6.8 months significantly reduced the angle of primary scoliotic curves. These results warrant further testing.”
In addition to this, the National Scoliosis Foundation recommends that scoliosis patients perform 25 yoga poses to help with curvature – although there has been no clinical results to support this effectiveness.