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.
- 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 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:
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.
The Schroth method is a non-surgical approach to scoliosis treatment that, through an intensive programme of stretches and exercises, alleviates symptoms such as back pain, muscle weakness, and reduced flexibility.
When properly administered by a skilled practitioner, Schroth treatment can eliminate the need for spinal fusion surgery
(an operation that is often used to halt the progression of spinal curves, but which – like any surgical procedure – carries with it a number of risks). As a result, the Schroth method is a very popular, highly sought-after treatment route amongst scoliosis sufferers who would prefer not to go under the knife.
The problem is that qualified Schroth practitioners are in fairly short supply. Depending on where in the world you live, it may be very difficult or even impossible to get Schroth treatment in your own country. For this reason, many scoliosis sufferers have travelled great distances in order to visit a Schroth clinic, get treated, and bring their condition under control without having to undergo surgery.
Schroth treatment in Australia
Australia is one country where Schroth method practitioners are few and far between. Because of this, many Australians with curved spines have made the long journey to England in order to complete an intensive ScolioGold
treatment course here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London
Monay, a teenager from Queenland, was one such Australian. She was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 14 after suffering from back pain for a long time; post-diagnosis, she tried countless different treatment methods, including osteopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and the EMMETT technique. However, Monay was unsatisfied with the outcome of these assorted treatments, and so she decided to come to London and try ScolioGold therapy instead.
Watch the video below to find out what Monay thought of our treatment programme.
“I feel a lot more independent…I don’t have to rely on treatment every week, I can just do it myself.”
Are ScolioGold therapy and the Schroth method identical?
ScolioGold – the Scoliosis SOS Clinic’s own treatment regime – is actually a combination of numerous non-surgical techniques. The Schroth method has always been at the heart of our programme, but ScolioGold therapy also incorporates a range of other proven methods, such as:
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
- Kinesio taping
- Functional Independent Treatment for Scoliosis (FITS)
- Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis (SEAS)
- Myofascial release
- Trigger point therapy
If you live in Australia (or elsewhere in the world) and you’re looking for Schroth-based scoliosis treatment in an English-speaking country, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic would be more than happy to welcome you. We even offer on-site accommodation
right in the centre of London – all of the famous tourist hotspots are right on our doorstep, and like Monay, you’ll have plenty of time to check them all out if you’re so inclined.
Originally, the Schroth method
was the primary form of physical therapy used to treat scoliosis here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. However, we soon realised that there were several disadvantages to relying on this method alone. While Schroth remains a core element of the treatment we provide, we have since combined it with a variety of other well-established, scientifically proven spinal techniques to create the ScolioGold method
, a far more comprehensive treatment programme that addresses all aspects of the patient’s condition.
In order to explain the differences between these two approaches more clearly (particularly for those who are researching the benefits and limitations of non-surgical therapy), we have put together a useful guide which compares the Schroth method to our own ScolioGold therapy:
What is the Schroth method?
Developed by Katharina Schroth in 1921, the Schroth method is a conservative exercise therapy that takes a three-dimensional approach towards elongating the trunk and correcting imbalances of the spine. This therapy aims to develop the inner muscles of the rib cage in order to change the shape of the upper trunk and correct any spinal abnormalities in all three planes of the body: sagittal, frontal, and transverse. This means that correction needs to occur not only from side to side and front to back, but also longitudinally. The Schroth method also places emphasis on the conscious correction of posture during daily living, as well as during strenuous exercise periods.
Schroth’s technique involves an intensive course of inpatient physiotherapy, lasting 6-8 hours per day for 4-6 weeks. Following the inpatient treatment, it is recommended that the patient maintains an at-home follow-up routine consisting of 3-4 exercises for 30 minutes each day; this helps to maintain the improved postural balance gained during therapy.
A Schroth treatment programme includes the correction of the scoliotic posture and breathing pattern with the assistance of proprioceptive and exteroceptive stimulation and mirror control. Using sensorimotor feedback mechanisms, the patients learn an individual correction routine and corrected breathing pattern, providing them with the tools to maintain the results of their therapy. There is no formal follow-up or aftercare, which means that the treatment relies solely upon the patient once their course is completed.
The ScolioGold Method
The ScolioGold Method was developed by the Scoliosis SOS team in 2006, replacing the Schroth method as the primary form of treatment delivered here at our clinic. The principal components of ScolioGold therapy include:
- Katharina Schroth & Rigo-Schroth methods
- Functional Independent Treatment for Scoliosis (FITS method)
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF method)
- Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis (SEAS method)
- Orthopaedic Medicine
Our treatment courses also incorporate several common manual physiotherapy techniques, such as:
- Myofascial release
- Trigger point therapy
Treatment is further facilitated and accompanied by other techniques such as acupuncture
and dry needling
ScolioGold therapy is tailored to suit the specific concerns and demands of our patients, and involves ergonomic assessments, pedoscans, and insole fitting to optimise posture and back health. The ScolioGold programme is also continually monitored and developed according to the latest scoliosis research, ensuring that we always provide the best possible care for patients. Treatment can be carried out in an intensive group setting of 1, 2 or 4-week courses; alternatively, many patients elect to receive treatment through individual 1:1 outpatient-style appointments of between 1 and 3 hours per visit. There is no limit to the number of therapy sessions you can attend, and a long-term treatment plan is provided in order to continually care for our patients.
The aim of the ScolioGold Method is to enable patients to maintain a more central posture during everyday activities, and is based upon 5 core principles:
- Body and Postural Awareness – Improving the patient’s understanding of their condition, anatomy and physiology, as well as representing their specific classification using the system of blocks.
- Axial Elongation – Stretching of the spine to open up areas of collapse and to better align the trunk whilst activating the muscles to address muscular imbalance.
- De-Rotation – Corrections of asymmetries in the transverse plane, using passive corrections (beanbags and wedges) to de-rotate the thorax assisted by rotational breathing.
- De-Flexion – Corrections in the frontal plane addressing coronal imbalance, pelvic torsion, rotation and shoulder positioning.
- Isometric Contraction – Prolonged muscle contraction to re-enforce corrections.