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.

Spine Straightening Exercises

The effects of scoliosis can be very detrimental to one's life. While some patients suffer only minor discomfort, others suffer from chronic pain. The curve of the spine is often the cause of this discomfort, leading to problems with the neck, shoulders, hips, and the back itself.

In order to combat this pain and discomfort, our own ScolioGold treatment method includes a wide variety of spine-straightening exercises. ScolioGold therapy has repeatedly proven capable of reducing the curve in the spine - see our results here.

If you do not want to undergo surgery for whatever reason, there are many exercises we can teach you to help with the effects of scoliosis. Here are some spine-straightening exercises that you can try at home:

Standing against the wall to straighten spine

Standing against a wall

The simple exercise can actually help improve your posture and build strength! All you need is a flat wall to stand against - here's what to do once you've found one:

  1. Stand with your head and shoulders pressed firmly against the wall behind you and place your feet approximately 20cm in front of you.
  2. Push your lower back towards the wall and hold this position for a few seconds.
  3. Take a few deep breaths and then breathe out as you relax. Repeat.

 

Planking exercise

Planking

Planking is a helpful spine-straightening exercise as it strengthens your core muscles whilst also targeting your lower back to help improve posture. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Lie on the floor on your front (use a mat to avoid slipping, as shown in the photo above).
  2. Hold yourself up using your forearms and toes and raise your whole body off the floor.
  3. Keeping your legs straight and your hips raised, place your shoulders directly above your elbows to create a straight line from head to toe.
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then relax and repeat again several times.

 

Bird Dog Stretch

'Bird dog' stretches (leg/arm extensions)

This is another strengthening exercise. It is often performed with a gym ball (as shown in the photo above), but you can still do this exercise if you don't have one handy.

  1. Firstly, lie face-down on the ball and gradually extend your right arm whilst using your left arm to support you (same technique without the ball).
  2. While holding this position, gradually extend your left leg up behind you as shown below.

Spine straightening exercise on gym ball

3. Hold for a couple of seconds, then alternate to the opposite limbs. Repeat this alternating movement back and forth between right and left.

Interested in completing a full treatment course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic? To book your consultation or request more information, please contact us today.

Schroth Method Exercises

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we've been successfully treating scoliosis patients for in excess of 12 years. 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 fundamental components of the ScolioGold programme is the world-renowned Schroth method, in which our staff our expertly trained. Schroth exercises have helped countless people all over the world to improve their posture and overcome the symptoms of scoliosis (and other spinal conditions). It is named for Katharina Schroth, the German physiotherapist who devised this treatment technique; Schroth was a scoliosis sufferer herself, and having made great progress with her own condition, she eventually opened a clinic.

 

How do Schroth method exercises benefit people with scoliosis?

Our Schroth-based exercises are customised to each patient's unique spinal curvature, as well as their age and physical ability. The Scoliosis SOS Clinic's use of the Schroth method has allowed 88% of our patients to avoid the need for spinal fusion surgery. We also:

  • 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 work to maintain their corrected position

Contact us now to book a consultation >

 

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:

  • A thoracic curve using shoulder traction, shoulder counter-traction and the de-rotation breathing technique
  • A lumbar curve via activation of the iliopsoas muscle

With a different setup, it can also be used to help thoracolumbar curves.

Prone on Stool Exercise

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:

 

2. Semi-hanging

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.

Semi-Hanging Schroth Exercise

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, practice 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).

Iliopsoas Ball Exercise

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 ScoliGold 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.

Schroth therapy combined with a vast number of other techniques has been scientifically proven to prevent progression, improve posture and cosmetic appearance, reduce pain, improve quality of life, and reduce 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.

Pilates is a system of exercises devised by a German physical trainer named Joseph Pilates. It has become incredibly popular in the Western world, with countless Pilates classes available throughout the UK.

But is Pilates beneficial for scoliosis sufferers? It certainly can be - there is evidence that Pilates can help to improve balance and muscle conditioning, and some scoliosis patients also find that Pilates helps to relieve tension, improve posture and increase joint mobility.

This method of exercising is usually very safe, and while it's no substitute for an intensive ScolioGold treatment course, you may find that Pilates goes some way towards helping you cope with your spinal curvature. Today we will be looking at some helpful Pilates techniques for scoliosis sufferers and how you can perform them at home.

Pilates for Scoliosis - Seated Pelvic Tilt

Seated Pelvic Tilt on a Stability Ball

To perform this exercise:

  • Sit up straight on a stability ball with your feet flat on the floor and hold a support in front of you.

  • Slowly tuck your tailbone under, curving your pelvis beneath you. You should feel the ball roll forward slightly.

  • Release, then start again.

 

Pilates for Scoliosis - Side Bend

Side Bend

The side bend exercise focuses on the upper half of your back. Here's how to do it:

  • Raise one hand up over your head, towards the ceiling, then bend your knees.

  • Once you're in a bending position, take your other hand and rest it on the side of your hip.

  • Lengthen your body to one side, rest, and then bend to the other side. Repeat.

 

Pilates for Scoliosis - Neutral Pelvis

Core Activation

This exercise is very gentle and can be conducted by patients of all ages. Lie flat on your back on a soft mat to begin with, then follows these steps:

  • With your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (hip-width apart), find your 'neutral pelvis' as shown in the photos above. First, move your lower back as far as you can away from the mat...

  • ...and then press it as far as you can towards the mat. The midpoint between these two positions is your 'neutral pelvis'.
  • To engage your core, place your finger tips on the inside of your hip bone. Try to tighten your stomach muscles in towards the spine - your tummy should move away from your fingers.

  • Hold for six seconds, and then repeat.

Pilates for Scoliosis - Core Activation

These are just a few gentle Pilates exercises that can be completed every morning. Regularly completing this routine can help relieve tension and other symptoms of scoliosis, but if you're looking for a more specialised exercise routine to prevent long-term progression of your condition, we can provide this here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.

Contact us today for details, or click here to learn more about our ScolioGold treatment method.

Specialised scoliosis physiotherapy

Idiopathic scoliosis (which usually arises during puberty, when the body is going through a period of rapid growth) is often treated using a rigid back brace that prevents the spinal curve from progressing as the patient grows. It's important to note that the aim of this bracing treatment is not to correct / reverse the sideways curvature of the spine, but simply to stop it from getting worse until the body has finished growing.

And while bracing can be very effective in that respect, it does very little to assist in building up the muscle strength that will be needed to ensure spinal stability once the brace comes off.

In fact, bracing tends to have a negative effect on muscle strength.

Scoliosis braces typically have to be worn for over 20 hours a day in order to achieve the best treatment outcome. During the bracing period, the muscles around the spine are likely to become inactive because the brace is doing their job (i.e. supporting the spine) for them.

This often results in a weakening of the spinal muscles, which may lead to the patient becoming reliant on the support of the brace.

But physical therapy can help with this problem.

There is a lot of clinical evidence to suggest that bracing delivers better outcomes for the patient when combined with scoliosis-specific physiotherapy. A 2011 study1 found that combining these two approaches reduces the risk of future curve progression and thus the likelihood that spinal fusion surgery will eventually be required. It has also been shown2 that completing a scoliosis-specific exercise programme limits the reversal of spinal correction when bracing ends.

Not only are scoliosis-specific exercises recommended in the SOSORT 2011 guidelines for people with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who are undergoing brace treatment, but several authors who developed scoliosis braces (such as the Milwaukee, Boston, Lyon and Chêneau braces) have proposed that scoliosis-specific exercises should be used to complement brace treatment. Indeed, the newly-developed Sforzesco and Gensingen braces are specifically designed to be worn in conjunction with exercise-based therapy.

In short: it's good to receive physiotherapy for your scoliosis even if it's also being treated with a brace. Integrating scoliosis-specific exercises with a bracing treatment helps to provide a more complete rehabilitation programme for growing patients with idiopathic scoliosis.

Links

  • ScolioGold Therapy - The Scoliosis SOS Clinic's own combination of proven exercise-based scoliosis treatment techniques
  • Contact Scoliosis SOS - Arrange an initial consultation (to be conducted at our clinic in London or via Skype / telephone)

 1. Negrini S, Aulisa AG, Aulisa L, Circo AB, de Mauroy JC, Durmala J,  Grivas TB, Knott P, Kotwicki T, Maruyama T, Minozzi S, O'Brien JP, Papadopoulos D, Rigo M, Rivard CH, Romano M, Wynne JH, Villagrasa M, Weiss HR, Zaina F: 2011 SOSORT guidelines: Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation treatment of idiopathic scoliosis during growth. Scoliosis 2012, 7:3

2. Zaina F, Negrini S, Atanasio S, Fusco C, Romano M, Negrini A: Specific exercises performed in the period of brace weaning can avoid loss of correction in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) patients: Winner of SOSORT's 2008 Award for Best Clinical Paper. Scoliosis 2009, 4(1):8.

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