In spite of the evidence, exercise is underutilized in the treatment of scoliosis in the United States. The three options most often provided to patients by the medical community are observation, bracing, or surgery. Research published as early as 1924 by Katharina Schroth, a German physical therapist, demonstrated the efficacy of specific exercise techniques in the treatment of this spinal disorder. Ninety years later, this approach has been validated by more sophisticated research. The time has come for exercise to serve its rightful place in the management of scoliosis.
Scolio-Pilates, developed by Karena Teck Lineback, builds upon the foundational work of the Schroth Method to address the three dimensional scoliotic spine. This is accomplished by using foam wedges and other props to bring the spine into a more neutral position while performing specific exercises. Pilates blends well into the Schroth Method to build core control, elongate the spine, and improve posture.
Studies have shown the following about corrective exercises for scoliosis:
- Curves can be reduced up to 32%.
- Pain can be reduced.
- Lung capacity and chest expansion can improve.
- Untreated scoliosis progresses (or worsens) up to 2.9 times more than it does for those in a corrective exercise program.
- Those undergoing a corrective exercise program have 24-48% fewer spine fusions than those who do not.
- Corrective exercise reduces pain post-spinal fusion and stabilizes segments above and below the fusion.
- Exercise can ease the transition from brace-wearing to non-brace-wearing, strengthening the muscles so that the spine will not revert to the previous degree of curvature once the brace is no longer worn.
Although exercise is an effective scoliosis management tool, it is important to develop a personalized corrective exercise program with an experienced professional. General exercise programs or classes may not take into account your specific structural needs, which may evolve over time. But with the right instruction, Scolio-Pilates may be the gateway to a stronger, more flexible, and pain-free body.