A doctor specialized in posturology and sports culture, after years and years of endless debates, wants to dispel myths and taboos linked to an alleged therapeutic role of swimming in spinal disorders.
In recent years, he has directed himself too often, and without scientifically motivating him, towards swimming as a ‘cure-all’ for scoliosis. Swimming cannot be prescribed in the presence of scoliosis. One cannot create the illusion of its miraculous effectiveness because, like any other sporting activity, it lacks any re-educational compensatory effect. It is useful to clarify immediately the role of aquatic and swimming activities: they play a role of dubious validity. Unfortunately, swimming continues to be prescribed as the object of unjustified and counterproductive attention in the process of normalizing morphological-postural alterations and in the re-education of scoliosis. How does a land animal (human being) control a whole series of muscular and proprioceptive components on the three planes of space, in an aquatic environment (which is not its natural environment) and balance the accounts also with fluid-dynamic thrusts and with water during the propulsive thrust?
A synthetic analysis of the kinesiological and biomechanical evidence contradicts every possible value of swimming activity in favor of a targeted postural re-educational moment aimed at the treatment of juvenile idiopathic evolutionary scoliosis to be carried out in a highly specialized environment. Every small postural imbalance is indistinctly correlated to the ‘postural fatigue’ of the upright position and of the maintenance-control of the body’s balance (microkinetic movement when stationary) involved in counterbalancing the gravitational force in relation to daily static and dynamic activities. The intent to act in a preventive or compensatory sense on the locomotor system through the use of a low gravitational impact environment such as the aquatic one does not find valid justification. The current use of prescribing swimming is recurrent but this does not mean that it finds appropriate technical justifications. One wonders whether those who prescribe a ‘cure’ for scoliosis by swimming have ever entered the bathtub at least once and asked questions about the Archimedes Principle and the laws governing the fluid dynamics of the body immersed in water.
The considerations, evaluations, objectives, strategies, all the operations screened ‘dry’, do not have the same logic shared with the physiological functions and with what happens biomechanically in water. Optimizing the recovery path of a scoliotic subject requires a logic dictated by the individualized and articulated work plan with different work programs. And, certainly, the place of greatest guarantee is not the aquatic environment but the mainland, the artificial environment that reproduces the human being’s ways of moving in his natural environment. Other terms that describe activities carried out in water may be part of the compensatory path but they can have neither a therapeutic value nor a sanitary one. The useful effects derive exclusively from correct physical exercise, its goodness of management and its exact location. The water does not give back any favorable outcome except for the context (physical environment) in which motor gestures with characteristics similar to those of the terrestrial environment but with the offer of great application difficulties.