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The World's Fastest Sprinter Has A Bone Abnormality

August 22, 2016 in Back Pain

Usain Bolt, the 30 year old Olympic Gold medalist and World Champion, has been regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time. Bolt stands 6 ft 5 in tall and evidently has the long limbs and large frame to allow him to cover 100 m distances in only 41 strides. Often we assume that athletes who accomplish records such as Bolt, must not be afflicted with the same physical ailments or disorders as non-athletes. However, the incredibly accomplished Usain Bolt lives with a bone abnormality called scoliosis. Chronic diseases, abnormalities, and general pain can slow us down in our everyday lives and often makes excessive physical activity or exercise feel unbearable. Many talented athletes have proven that pushing through pain and emerging as a winner is very possible, and who better to convey this message than the fastest man alive?

What is Scoliosis?

The normal human spine has a slight curvature but generally the spinal discs are stacked on top of one another in a straight vertical line. Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, in which the spine curves out of line to one side. Those afflicted with scoliosis can also have two curves in the spine, which resemble the shape of the letter S. Indicators of this abnormality are mainly the visual appearance that one shoulder is higher than the other, the hips appear uneven, and one leg can appear shorter than the other. Scoliosis can interfere with proper posture and even cause pain if pressure is being put on the spinal discs. For a proper diagnosis, individuals should receive an x-ray to determine the shape of their spine.

Knowledge of Pain is Power Over Pain

Bolt acknowledges that his spine curves in two different places and that his scoliosis was becoming a greater problem before he began to focus on strengthening his core and lower back. Scoliosis can cause pain, become worse over time, and can negatively affect an individual's self esteem due to the abnormal posture that occurs as a result. Bolt reflected on his continued experience living with a bone abnormality and revealed that gaining knowledge about his affliction helped him to better deal with it.

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.” -Usain Bolt

Spinal Health Matters For Everyone

It is clear that even the most successful athletes must overcome physical obstacles to succeed. It is also clear that taking care of our posture and spine is critical for our health. If you are not plagued by scoliosis you may still experience back problems as a result of neglecting the natural curve of your spine. The natural curve of the spine is a slight S-shaped curve (not a lateral curve found in those with scoliosis), that works to absorb shock, maintain balance, and allow for adequate range of motion. The muscles are supposed to maintain proper posture to prevent strain on the back. Sitting at a desk job for an extended period of time, staring down at our phones, sleeping in awkward positions, or maintaining poor posture long-term, can add pressure to our spinal discs and lead to back pain. Back pain and spinal problems can be degenerative as we age and require constant attention. Start to pay attention to your posture everyday and work to improve the way you arch, slouch, sit, and stand, to ultimately reinforce proper posture and positive spinal health.

Check out DR-HO'S Perfectback Rest if you want to encourage proper posture while sitting. 

Sources:

  1. 2012 Morgan, Chris. Share News. "The Secret to Usain Bolt's Success."
  2. 2015 Myers, Erin. Spiral Spine. "Usain Bolt, the Fastest Man in the World has Scoliosis."
  3. 2016 Ullrich, Peter. Spine-Health. "Scoliosis: What You Need to Know."
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