If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis, then you are aware of the corrective options: either a brace or surgery. But, did you know there are exercises you can do to help correct it? Well, there are! Scoliosis is characterized by an S or C-shaped curve in your spine. It usually begins in childhood, but can occur in adulthood. Scoliosis happens in adulthood for many different reasons such as past spinal or joint surgeries, foot or knee issues, and even genetics. Some people deal with mild cases, while others have a deeper curve. The more you are aware of your scoliosis and body, then the better chance you have of correcting it with daily exercises and activities.
Scoliosis exercises can be an effective way to reduce the curve, and a custom designed program can treat mild to moderate curves. The exercises can help patients reverse their curves without having to turn to surgery. There are two types of exercise programs that are conducted in physical therapy with your therapist or medical professional. The two different approaches/programs are one that corrects the scoliosis curve, and the other prevents it from getting worse. The two different programs are:
- Stabilizing Exercise Programs
Stabilizing exercises will help improve posture, and prevent scoliosis from getting worse, but will not reverse the curve. Their main purpose is to help with the pain and stabilize scoliosis. These programs include a mixture of different exercise programs including Pilates, yoga, and Vojta. They focus on helping the body reposition itself, training yourself to sit properly, stand properly, etc. Some exercise programs will create reflex-like movements that will help the nerves between the brain and spinal cord.
- Corrective Exercise Programs
Corrective exercise programs will not only improve posture, but it will keep the spine from getting worse, while reducing the size or curvature. The two main methods are:
- The CLEAR method mixes the curvature from its original position, fixes the spine to more normal positions, and sets it in by retraining the brain to hold a new spinal position.
- The Schroth method uses systematic breathing exercises to reshape the rib cage and de-rotate the spine. The exercises provided will help reverse the curves as long as the person maintains a consistent home routine
There are exercises that you can perform at home that will prevent scoliosis from getting worse. The exercises focus on strengthening your core, and posture. Before performing any exercise program at home, you should always consult with your doctor to make sure it is safe. Here are some of the exercises:
- Pelvic Tilts – Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Pull your belly button in as your pelvis pushes toward the ceiling, tighten stomach muscles and buttocks. Hold the position for 20 seconds and then relax. Repeat 10 times.
- Cat/Camel- Start on your hands and knees. Keep your head straight looking down, and align your armsstraight under your shoulders. Take a deep breath in and lift your lower rib cage, rounding your back/lifting your spine towards the ceiling, while looking at your belly. Hold for a deep breath. As you breathe out, lower your chest towards the floor, looking straight ahead. Repeat 10 times.
- Single Leg Balance- Stand up straight. Bend one knee up and balance on one foot. If you need to, hold onto the wall or a table for balance. Eventually, you should be able to balance without support. Repeat 5 times per foot.
- Arm/Leg Raise- This exercise will strengthen your back and core. Lie on your stomach and keep your legs straight and arms extended overhead. Slowly raise one arm off the ground with the opposing leg off the ground. Hold and then lower it back. Repeat this with the other arm and leg for 15 times each.
- Latissimus Stretch- Stand with your feet shoulder width, slightly bent at the knees. Reach overhead and grab your left wrist with your right hand. Bend on your right side, stretching your left side. Put your body weight on your right leg. Hold for 10 seconds and return to the standing position. Repeat on the other side.
These exercises will help relieve the scoliosis pain you may be dealing with. There are other things you can do to help reduce some issues and prevent scoliosis from getting worse. Do not sleep on your stomach, because the thoracic spine becomes flatter. Jumping on trampolines will make the curvature worse. Try not to carry heavy things because it will make you lean forward, putting pressure on your spinal cord. If you practice exercises for scoliosis on a daily basis, then you can get ahead of the curve!