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.

Scoliosis PSSE Treatment

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.

Learn more about the Schroth method >>

 

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 >

Some time ago, we shared a series of stretches for scoliosis sufferers to perform in order to improve strength and balance while also relieving some of the aches and pains that a spinal curvature can cause. While performing a few exercises at home is no substitute for attending a full ScolioGold treatment course here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we know that these stretches can be very beneficial in their own right, and so we’d like to share a few more suggestions today. As before, please note that performing these stretches does not mean you shouldn’t also seek professional treatment for your scoliosis. They are designed to complement, not replace, other treatment methods.

Wall Stretch

Wall stretch

  1. Find a flat wall that you can stand against. (You can also use the floor if there’s no available wall space.)
  2. Stand with your back to the wall and your feet slightly in front of you.
  3. Press your head/shoulders back so they’re firmly against the wall.
  4. Push your lower back towards the wall. Try to touch the wall if you can (but don’t strain too hard).
  5. Hold this position while you take three deep breaths in and out.
  6. Relax and repeat five times.

Watch a Video of This Stretch >

 

Doorway Stretch

Doorway stretch

  1. Stand in a doorway.
  2. Place one arm on the doorframe so that it’s pointing upwards (your elbow should be bent to a 90° angle, and your upper arm should be roughly in line with your shoulder).
  3. Step forward with one leg (on the same side as your raised arm).
  4. Keeping your arm pressed against the doorframe and lean forward slightly. You should feel the stretch in your pectoral (chest) area.
  5. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then relax and repeat two more times.
  6. Finally, turn around and repeat steps 1-5 with the other side of your body.

Watch a Video of This Stretch >

 

Desk Stretch

Desk stretch

  1. Sit in a sturdy chair in front of a desk.
  2. Place your feet flat on the floor so that your knees are bent to a 90° angle.
  3. Place your arms under your desk with your palms down (so that the backs of your hands are touching the underside of the desk).
  4. Gently push upwards with your hands and forearms so that they’re pressed against the underside of the desk.
  5. At the same time, stretch your upper back and allow your pelvis to rock forward slightly.
  6. Tuck in your chin so that you feel the stretch in your neck as well as your upper back.
  7. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat twice.
Click here for more scoliosis exercises, or contact Scoliosis SOS today to arrange a consultation with Scoliosis SOS.

Lower Back Mobilisation

In the physiotherapy world, the word mobility refers to the freedom of movement that exists in a muscle or group of muscles. People with scoliosis often experience reduced mobility in their backs (frequently accompanied by pain). Regularly performing lower back mobilisation exercises can help to:
  • Strengthen muscles in the lower back
  • Improve posture
  • Relieve lower back pain
  • Increase mobility
  • Reduce the likelihood of injury
There are lots of different mobility exercises that you can try. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we try to tailor all of our corrective exercises to each patient’s specific condition – the exercise, how often you should do it, and the other exercises we recommend incorporating into your routine are largely dependant on the severity of your scoliosis, and on your end goal. If you are someone who wants to run a marathon, you may need to perform lower back mobilisation exercises more frequently than someone with no such aspirations. Watch the video below for a lower back mobilisation exercise that has helped many of our scoliosis patients.

This exercise uses a flat surface (e.g. the wall or the floor) to straighten your spine while you stretch your lower back muscles. Over time, repetition of this exercise will not only improve mobility and posture, it will also help to relieve tension and pain in the lower back.

If you suffer from scoliosis and think you may benefit from one of our exercise-based treatment courses, please get in touch today. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have.

Contact Scoliosis SOS >   More Scoliosis Exercises >

Back Strengthening Exercise

Individuals with idiopathic scoliosis don’t always experience pain as a result of this condition, but there may be a loss of back strength depending on the severity of the spinal curvature. With the right exercises, however, this can be overcome – for instance, it may be beneficial to place greater emphasis on enhancing the strength, range of motion, and length-tension relationship of the working muscles on either side of the vertebral column.

Range of Motion

Defined as the ‘measurement of movement around a specific joint in the body‘, range of motion simply refers to how freely a particular part of your body can move. In the case of idiopathic scoliosis, an ‘S’ or ‘C’ curve can result in shortened musculature on the concave working muscles of the spine. These differences can dramatically decrease the unilateral range of motion at different joints in the spine, leading to reduced mobility and irregularities in one’s posture.

Strength

Back strength is essential for balance, posture and the transmission of power throughout the body. Each of these factors can make a big difference to everyday activities such as going up and down stairs, picking up objects, and standing up from a sitting position. Incorporating back strengthening exercises into a corrective scoliosis treatment programme can significantly improve functional strength and postural symmetry.

Flexibility

Defined as the ‘ability of a joint to move freely through its range of motion‘, flexibility is an important consideration for scoliosis therapists as it plays a vital role in restoring a regular length-tension relationship in the patient’s tightened skeletal muscles. Improved flexibility can result in enhanced postural symmetry, improved performance, reduced pain, and minimised risk of further injuries. The video below showcases an effective back strengthening exercise that you can try at home:

Regular exercise is vital when attempting to correct and alleviate the symptoms of scoliosis. The exercise in the video above is just one of many that can aid in improving the strength, flexibility and range of motion in your spine.

More Scoliosis Exercises >   Contact Scoliosis SOS >

Improve Your Flexibility

If you suffer from scoliosis, there’s a good chance that you will experience a loss of flexibility as your spinal curvature progresses. This can impact your ability to move around and go about your daily routine; it can also adversely impact your performance if you participate in sports or other physical activities like dancing. Unfortunately, spinal fusion surgery – the standard treatment for severe scoliosis in most territories – can itself cause a loss of flexibility, and so it’s easy for scoliosis patients to feel like they can’t win either way. Surgery involves the insertion of numerous rods into the site of the curve, followed by the application of a bone graft that eventually fuses with the spine; this procedure is often very effective, and it has enabled countless scoliosis sufferers to enjoy a better overall quality of life, but from a flexibility standpoint it’s far from ideal. But as we’ve seen time and again here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, it is possible for scoliosis patients to regain their flexibility and continue taking part in the activities they love.

Improving your flexibility through exercise

Certain stretches and exercises can have a very positive effect on scoliosis and the problematic symptoms that patients commonly experience. ScolioGold, the combination of non-surgical treatment methods that the Scoliosis SOS team use to treat people with curved spines, is primarily exercise-based, and it has proven incredibly effective when it comes to: Visit our Results page to see before-and-after photos that demonstrate how effective ScolioGold treatment can be, or watch some of our patient experience videos to find out what some of our previous patients had to say post-treatment.

Which exercises should I try?

Every case of scoliosis is unique, and we strongly recommend that you attend an initial consultation so that we can assess your condition and recommend the best course of action for you. However, if you are looking for some exercises that you can perform at home today, try the following links: You may also wish to read our guide to Scoliosis Exercises to Avoid in order to make yourself aware of what stretches/exercises risk making your condition worse. Whether you’re struggling with scoliosis or recovering after a spinal fusion procedure, Scoliosis SOS can help you to regain your flexibility and move around more easily. Click here to see upcoming treatment course dates, or get in touch now to arrange an initial consultation.