Many scoliosis sufferers, already experiencing pain, avoid exercise out of fear that it might cause physical damage or somehow make their condition worse. The reality is that not only is physical activity okay, but that scoliosis exercises are actually a part of treatment.
Scoliosis is the official term for an abnormal curvature of the spine, where the normally straight spine forms a “C” or “S” shape. It commonly begins in puberty during a growth spurt and if left untreated could result in deformity and decreased lung and heart function.
Exercises for scoliosis aim to strengthen the muscles weakened by the bend of the spine. Though they can’t slow the curve progression, the exercises can provide pain relief and improve breathing.
As with any big lifestyle change, you’ll want to speak with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. Not only will your doctor be able to tell you the best way to do your exercises to benefit your particular curvature, but the exercises can do more harm than good if done incorrectly.
The best exercises for Scoliosis strengthen your core, which is a group of muscles that includes upper and lower back and abdominal muscles, without straining your spine. Strengthening these muscles will improve your posture and ease back pain.
A great exercise for strengthening your core without putting strain on your spine is the plank. The plank works both back and abdominal muscles all with one easy move.
How to do the plank:
There are two basic versions of the plank, for the first version you will get into pushup position (arms extended with palms flat on the floor shoulder width apart, toes perpendicular to the floor and body held in a straight line from shoulders to heels) and hold that position for 10 to 20 seconds. Simple, right?
The second version is just like the first, but you support yourself with your forearms instead of your palms. When performing either version, focus on using your abs and glutes (stomach and butt muscles) to keep yourself stable and don’t lock your knees.
In addition to building a strong core, it’s important for individuals with Scoliosis to increase their flexibility. Yoga and pilates are good options for exercise that will increase flexibility, but remember to take it slow and stop if you feel pain.
The Piriformis Stretch is a simple flexibility exercise that can help relieve back pain.
Here’s how to do it:
Lie down flat with both arms stretching straight out from your body. Bring your right knee up and then slowly lower it across your body to the ground, keeping your shoulders as flat as possible.
You should feel the stretch in your lower back and hips. Hold this position for 30 seconds and return to starting position. Now raise your left knee and let it fall across your body to the right side. Hold for 30 seconds and return to starting position. Do this exercise ten times, alternating knees.
While exercising on your own is a good way to build up strength and flexibility and relieve minor back pain associated with Scoliosis, more intense pain should be managed with the aid of a professional. A licensed chiropractor can perform expert spinal manipulation, supervise therapeutic exercise and monitor any changes in your condition.
When choosing a chiropractor it’s best to go with a practice that combines traditional medical treatment and chiropractic care so that all of your Scoliosis needs are covered. If they have X-ray and MRI machines on site, even better, as that will reduce the time it takes to diagnose issues and begin treatment.
So fear not, Scoliosis sufferers! Exercise is safe, and even good for you, just be sure to check with your doctor first.