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 >

Ian Before and After Scoliosis Treatment

Earlier this year, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic helped 16-year-old Ian from Ghana to overcome his 50-degree scoliosis.

Ian's spine began to develop a curve when he was 12 years old. As he grew, the curvature got bigger and bigger; when Ian's mother noticed the condition of his spine, she became worried and sent Ian for some X-rays, which led to a scoliosis diagnosis.

This came as a shock to Ian, who hadn't even heard of scoliosis before, but he did some research and began to learn more about his condition and the treatments available. Unfortunately for Ian, the treatment options in Ghana were limited, but a friend of his mother recommended the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London. Soon after, Ian left Ghana for the first time and came to the UK for a 4-week treatment course to help correct the curve in his spine.

Ian faced some difficulties at the start of his treatment programme due to him being shy and sensitive about his condition. As time went by, however, Ian became much more comfortable, and by the end of the course he felt a lot more confident when showing his back and spine. Ian found our corrective exercises quite challenging at first, but as time passed, he became used to the exercises and was soon able to perform them without any problems. Throughout this whole process, Ian became more confident not just in the way he felt about his body, but also in a social sense, making lots of new friends from different parts of the world.

Ian described the Scoliosis SOS therapists as "really encouraging" throughout his treatment course, helping him to get to know his body better and gain a greater understanding of his condition. To anybody else suffering from scoliosis, Ian recommends visiting the Scoliosis SOS Clinic to receive the same guidance and treatment that he had.

Watch the video below for a full account of Ian’s story and to see how Scoliosis SOS were able to help him.

If you have any questions about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, or if you would like to book an initial consultation with us, please click the link below!

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Scoliosis SOS Patient Max, 60 Years Old

Max Thompson was diagnosed with scoliosis when he was still in his teens, but he wasn't offered any advice or treatment at the time. Here's how he tells it:

"I didn't know what 'scoiliosis' meant - it was a strange word I'd never heard before - and no treatment was offered by the NHS. So I thought, 'well, I'll just carry on'."

While Max - now 60 years old - hasn't suffered any severe symptoms from his condition and has kept himself very fit over the years, during his initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS, he compared the sensation of having a curved spine to "wearing a jumper that's two sizes too small". He also mentioned that he frequently felt stiff and inflexible, especially across his lower back.

Prior to coming here for treatment, Max was already doing core-strengthening exercises, plus swimming and cycling most days.

 

Treatment Results

Following his 4-week ScolioGold treatment course, Max has achieved significant reductions in kyphosis, coupled with better head position and posture. His thoracic (upper spine) rotation decreased by nearly 20%, while his lumbar (lower spine) rotation is completely gone, meaning that he is no longer classified as being hyperlordotic!

On seeing his before and after photographs (above), Max was amazed by the appearance in his back's appearance and shape, remarking: "You can see my neck! I thought I'd lost my neck!"

 

Max's Comments

"Over the years, I've seen chiropractors and sports therapists. They'd relieve it temporarily, but I always wondered if there was a better solution.

"I would recommend coming to Scoliosis SOS for a diagnosis - you'll be treated with respect and courtesy, and given a lot of hope and a lot of inspiration. It's a very honest diagnosis, and I came away thinking, yes, I really can  improve my condition.

"The team here are excellent - they empowered me. I've been shown the skills, and now I can go home and do things on my own. You're given control; I feel like I've got control over my own health that I didn't have before."

Would you like to learn more about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic? Use the links below to find out how much improvement you could make with ScolioGold therapy.

What is ScolioGold?   Book a Consultation

 

Scoliosis Treatment Group

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.

Rachel Mulvaney is the Vice President of Curvy Girls, an international support group for girls with scoliosis. You might remember that we interviewed the group's founder, Leah Stoltz, on the Scoliosis SOS blog last year - this time around, we have a Q&A with Rachel, whose scoliosis story is rather different from Leah's but no less inspirational.

Curvy Girls Scoliosis

So, Rachel - when did you first learn that you had scoliosis?

I was nine years old when my school nurse detected my curves during a scoliosis screening examination. With a 35-degree curve, bracing was immediately recommended - I wore a brace 16 hours a day for nearly 3 years. However, several months after I'd been discharged from bracing, my back pain worsened and we learned that my curve had progressed to 42 degrees.

It was during this time that my mother was doing research for the book that we were writing, Straight Talk with the Curvy Girls. We learned about a scoliosis-specific exercise called the Schroth method, and in 2010, I travelled to a scoliosis clinic in Wisconsin for an intensive two-week programme.

And how well did the treatment work?

I believe it worked very well for me. The back brace did stabilise my curves, but my scoliosis continued to progress as I was never educated on how to hold my body in an upright position without depending on my brace. It was the Schroth method that improved my scoliosis and eliminated my chronic back pain. Those scoliosis-specific exercises taught me how to strengthen my weakened muscles, maintain correction, and most importantly, live a pain-free life.

After eight months of consistently doing the exercises, my 42-degree curve reduced to 30 degrees. This was a surprise to my orthopaedic surgeon, as I was already skeletally matured. And my success did not end there - by the summer of 2013, my curved had reduced to 22 degrees.

How did you get involved with Curvy Girls?

I became involved with Curvy Girls before we even had a formal name! Twelve years ago, my physical therapist introduced me to Leah Stoltz, who told me that she wanted to start a scoliosis support group for people our age. When she asked if I would be interested in attending a meeting, I said yes without any hesitation. Several weeks later, I went to the first meeting at her home on 6th August 2006.

Tell us about the role you play in Curvy Girls today.

Today, I am proud to say that I am the Vice President of Curvy Girls. Since 2012, I have co-led and co-created our International Biennial Curvy Girls Scoliosis Conventions with Leah. I also serve as a mentor for our Curvy Girl Leaders in the New York and New England regions.

I also make myself available to educate and advocate for the Schroth method. Over the years, I have invited medical professionals (as well as newly-diagnosed families) into my home to demonstrate how effective these exercises can be for a scoliotic spine.

And what do you do in your life outside of Curvy Girls?

Outside of Curvy Girls, I work as a Care Coordinator II at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where I facilitate and manage an oncologists' clinic and help run our chemotherapy unit. I am also preparing to go back to college to receive my master's in Public Health. I have a strong interest in research, epidemiology and preventative care.

Has helping other people with their spinal curves helped you to come to terms with your own condition and experiences?

Absolutely - helping other girls was like a form of medicine to me. Educating families about the Schroth method helped me to discover a purpose and drive within me that I never knew existed.

Throughout my bracing years, I was told that my chronic back pain did not exist because scoliosis 'does not cause any pain'. I was one of many patients who were spoken to in this way. But after learning a programme that both validated and eliminated my pain, I was determined to spread the word. I wanted to make sure all Curvy Girl families had the opportunity to know that this treatment existed. How can we make the best decisions for our health if we don't know what all of our options are?

What advice would you give to a young girl who's just been diagnosed with scoliosis?

I would encourage that young girl to join a Curvy Girls chapter so she can see for herself that she is not alone. I would tell her about our conventions and how many girls she will meet from all around the world who are going through the same experiences she is.

And what advice would you give to the people close to them?

For family members, I would advise them to read Straight Talk with the Curvy Girls. This book includes health education, emotional support, and a dedicated section for parents.

For teachers, please show empathy and understanding of the needs she may have. Allow her to step away from her desk if she begins to feel back pain, as sitting for too long in a back brace can lead to discomfort. Excuse her from class if she needs to temporarily leave and take her brace off.

For friends, please be kind and accepting. This is a sensitive time for your friend. Offer to take her shopping to find clothes that will make her feel more confident when she wears her brace to school. You could even suggest helping her name her brace in order to make the brace a part of the friendship you all share.

Visit www.curvygirlsscoliosis.com to learn more about Curvy Girls, or follow @CurvyGirlsScoli on Twitter.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat scoliosis using a Schroth-based programme called ScolioGold therapy - learn all about it here.