Physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises (PSSEs) are an increasingly popular non-surgical method for treating scoliosis. PSSEs – so named to differentiate them from non-specific physiotherapy programmes – aim to provide a more functional approach to scoliosis management and improve the patient’s quality of life.
The Schroth method
The Schroth method is a particularly well-known type of non-surgical scoliosis treatment. Devised by a German woman named Katharina Schroth, it uses tailored exercises for each individual to help their curved spine return to a straighter, more natural position.
Schroth realised that 3D postural correction could only be achieved through a series of corrective exercises designed to support a corrected posture and alter the postural perception of the individual suffering from scoliosis. Focusing on a number of objectives – including de-rotating, elongating and stabilising the spine on a three-dimensional plane – Schroth exercises focus on restoring muscular symmetry and alignment of posture whilst teaching patients to be more aware of their posture on a day-to-day basis.
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Physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises
Scoliosis is, of course, a very complex condition. From the rear, it looks like a sideways curve in either a ‘C’ or an ‘S’ shape. However, what you can’t see are the ways in which the vertebrae in the spine rotate as that curve develops. Spaces between the vertebrae may also become stretched in some areas and compressed in others. For this reason, scoliosis-specific physiotherapy requires a 3D approach to address the curve from all angles and directions.
The extent of the rotation in the spine differs widely from one case to the next; therefore, when treating scoliosis with PSSEs, the exercises need to be tailored to the unique condition of the patient’s spine. Exercises can be performed whilst sitting, laying down or standing up, with several props being used to assist such as gym balls and wall bars. Take a look at our video below to see some simple versions of these exercises in action!
These exercises help to promote:
- Muscular symmetry – The muscles in your back are affected by changes in the curvature of your spine. One side may see muscles weaken, whereas on the other side muscles may be overworked. Therapeutic exercises should seek to address both problems and achieve symmetry between the two sides.
- Rotational breathing – The Schroth method utilises a unique breathing technique known as ‘rotational breathing’, where the idea is to use breathing to assist in the de-rotation of the spine, thereby reshaping the rib cage and the surrounding soft tissue.
- Postural awareness – Being aware of the position of your spine is the first step towards correcting it. Postural awareness is particularly important when it comes to performing day-to-day activities.
Treating scoliosis with PSSEs
The Schroth method forms the foundation of the scoliosis treatment courses we provide here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. However, we understand that there are elements of postural correction that Schroth is unable to address on its own. Therefore, all of our treatment plans are enhanced and complemented by an assortment of other well-established physiotherapeutic techniques from all around the world, ensuring that all aspects of each patient’s condition can be addressed effectively.
The result is our internationally-renowned ScolioGold treatment method. Use the links below to view before/after photos or book your initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS.
Photos: Before & After Treatment > Book an Initial Consultation >
Though our ScolioGold programme is made up of many different scoliosis treatment techniques from around the world, the Schroth method is still at the core of the therapy we provide here at Scoliosis SOS.
The Schroth method was developed in the early 20th century by Katharina Schroth, and today – 22 February 2019 – would have been her 125th birthday! To mark the occasion, we’d like to tell you a little bit more about Katharina Schroth and the treatment method to which she gave her name.
Who was Katharina Schroth?
Katharina Schroth was born on 22 February 1894 in Dresden, Germany. Though she initially worked as a teacher in a business school, she made the jump to physiotherapy when she decided to try and treat her own scoliosis.
She developed the Schroth method over the years that followed, and she eventually opened a clinic so that other people with scoliosis could benefit from her exercise-based treatment regimen.
In 1969, Schroth was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit for her work. In the 1970s, she handed the clinic over to her daughter, Christa Lehnert-Schroth, who continued to develop the Schroth method after her mother had retired from treatment.
How does the Schroth method work?
The Schroth method uses a variety of exercises and stretches to work the muscles around the rib cage and in the upper trunk to help correct the spinal abnormalities caused by scoliosis.
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we combine the Schroth method with a range of other non-invasive, exercise-based treatments to deliver outstanding results for people with scoliosis and other spinal conditions. See our results here.
Thanks in part to Katharina Schroth’s life’s work, we are able to offer scoliosis patients a real alternative to surgery and help them to dramatically improve their quality of life. So happy birthday, Katharina!
- Using exercises, it restores muscular symmetry where there is a muscular imbalance around the scoliosis curve.
- It also teaches rotational angular breathing techniques, which contribute to the reshaping of the ribcage and surrounding soft tissue.
- Finally, it encourages patients to be aware of their posture as they go about their everyday lives, preventing them from sitting or standing in a way that will cause their scoliosis to become worse.
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Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we’ve been successfully treating scoliosis patients for well over a decade. Our comprehensive ScolioGold treatment programme combines a variety of well-known therapeutic techniques, and the exercises that we teach our patients allow them to manage their symptoms and prevent progression from the comfort of their own home.
One of the techniques we use to treat our patients is the Schroth method, in which our therapists our expertly trained.
What is the Schroth method?
The Schroth method is an exercise-based physiotherapy programme that is used to treat scoliosis without surgical intervention. This world-renowned treatment method has helped countless people to improve their posture and overcome the symptoms of scoliosis.
The Schroth method is named after Katharina Schroth, the German physiotherapist who devised it. Schroth herself had a curved spine, and after making great progress with her own condition, she decided to open up a clinic to treat other people with scoliosis.
Katharina Schroth passed away in 1985, but her daughter Christa Lehnert-Schroth continued her work and the Schroth method is now used as physical therapy for scoliosis patients all over the world.
How does the Schroth method help people with scoliosis?
The Schroth method uses stretches and exercises to develop the inner muscles of the rib cage in order to correct spinal abnormalities in all three planes of the body. This treatment method also places emphasis on the conscious correction of posture during day-to-day life.
The Schroth-based exercises that we use here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are customised to each patient’s unique spinal curvature, as well as their age and physical ability. Our use of the Schroth method has allowed 88% of our patients to avoid the need for spinal fusion surgery. We also:
If you seek these improvements for yourself or someone you love, consider receiving Schroth physical therapy as treatment for scoliosis.
- Use a specific rotational breathing technique to correct spinal rotation and increase the patient’s lung capacity
- Rebalance the patient’s spinal position using pelvic corrections and isometric contractions
- Make patients more aware of their posture on a daily basis, ensuring they have the correct equipment at home and at school/work to maintain their corrected position
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Examples of Schroth method exercises
Here are just a few of the stretches and exercises that make up the Schroth method:
1. Prone on stool
One of the core Schroth exercises, performed in a prone position facing towards the floor. Depending on the patient’s classification, condition, previous medical history and symptoms, this exercise has the potential to correct:
With a different setup, it can also be used to help thoracolumbar curves.
This exercise requires quite a few pieces of equipment including tubes, stools, belts, straps, beanbags and wedges. Watch our patient Isobel perform this exercise during a check-up appointment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic:
- A thoracic curve using shoulder traction, shoulder counter-traction and the de-rotation breathing technique
- A lumbar curve via activation of the iliopsoas muscle
This primary Schroth exercise uses gravity to stretch out the spine and relieve pressure on vertebral joints. At the same time, the patient will be applying the rotational breathing technique to flatten the prominent areas of their back, activating their muscles on exhalation to train their body to remember the corrected position when they stop exercising.
This is often used as a preparation exercise at the beginning of a treatment session. A set of wall bars (or equivalent) is necessary to perform this exercise effectively.
Watch our patient Nicole, who travelled from Ghana to the UK for scoliosis treatment, practise this exercise with her therapist:
3. Iliopsoas on a ball
This is a very patient-specific Schroth exercise that is only suitable for someone with a lumbar or thoracolumbar curve. It works by utilising the activation of the iliopsoas muscle to help de-rotate the affected portion of the patient’s spine. This is one of the simpler Schroth method exercises, requiring only a gym ball and wall bars (or equivalent).
Here at the clinic, patients often receive assistance from the therapists using myofascial release techniques to ‘mobilise’ the spine and help the patient to achieve a straight posture in standing.
Watch our patient Molly from Suffolk perform this exercise:
The Schroth component of our ScolioGold therapy course places huge emphasis on conscious correction of posture throughout daily life, not just during exercise therapy. Education is paramount – throughout your 4-week course, our therapists will help you to learn about scoliosis and your body to ensure that you can recognise an abnormal posture and correct it accordingly.
More Scoliosis Exercises >
What is the Rigo-Schroth method?
The Rigo-Schroth method is a modification of the Schroth method. Devised in the 1980s by a Spanish practitioner named Dr Manuel Rigo, it is based on much the same regime of stretches as the Schroth method itself; however, the Rigo-Schroth method is structured differently, with significantly more emphasis on the role of the therapist.
Combining Schroth method exercises with other treatment techniques
Back when we first opened our clinic, our treatment courses were entirely based on the Schroth method. As years passed, however, we noticed that some aspects of scoliosis were not addressed by Schroth scoliosis treatment alone. So, to ensure that all aspects of each patient’s condition are fully treated, we’ve combined the Schroth and Rigo-Schroth methods with a number of other exercise-based / non-surgical treatment to help provide our patients with a fully comprehensive treatment package.
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This approach has yielded superb results: our treatment courses have proved capable of preventing progression, improving posture and cosmetic appearance, reducing pain, improving quality of life, and reducing the patient’s Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees.
To enrol on one of our Schroth-based scoliosis treatment courses, contact us online or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.
Did you know that our therapists can provide ScolioGold therapy in your own home?
ScolioGold treatment is a non-invasive, exercise-based alternative for patients who are suffering from scoliosis and other spinal problems. The therapy course is specifically tailored to the size and shape of the individual’s curve, and it helps to:
The Scoliosis SOS Clinic is located in central London, and although patients do travel from all over the world to receive treatment here, we understand that it is not always possible for patients to travel to London.
In these cases, our staff will travel to you.
- Prevent further progression
- Improve cosmetic appearance
- Reduce pain
- Give patients the opportunity to avoid spinal fusion surgery
Home treatment with your ScolioGold therapist
Our highly-experienced therapists have travelled all over the world to treat patients in their own homes. The USA and East Asia are just two of the locations they have visited for this purpose.
Although we encourage our patients to attend the clinic where possible, intensive one-to-one treatment on location has proven to be just as successful. Our ScolioGold consultants give the patient a full medical assessment over the telephone to confirm their suitability, and a personalised course of treatment is prescribed.
If a patient decides that they would like to be treated in their own home, we then discuss suitable dates and make accommodation and travel arrangements. Patients are required to have some equipment sent to their home address in order to get the most out of their treatment.
Who is eligible for home treatment?
Treatment on location is available to patients of all ages as long as they are able to follow instructions and have enough mobility to get up off the floor unaided. Our therapists will travel to most countries to treat patients, and have also travelled to other parts of the United Kingdom to treat patients who were unable to travel to London.
ScolioGold treatment isn’t just for patients with scoliosis and hyperkyphosis – it is also suitable for patients with postural problems, as well as for those who suffer from chronic back pain.
What level of treatment will be provided?
The amount of 1:1 treatment required will depend on the patient’s age and the severity of their spinal curve. This will be discussed prior to booking. On-location treatment means that our therapists can work around your school/work commitments.
To discuss treatment options and arrange an initial telephone consultation, please contact us online or call 0207 488 4428.