9 Stretches and Exercises for Scoliosis to Move with Ease
Stop scoliosis from restricting you from participating in your favourite activities. Eliminate imposed barriers by increasing strength and mobility through properly performing simple exercises.What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine or vertebral rotation. Scoliosis may result in neurological complications, arthritis, and lung and heart problems depending on its form and severity. Scoliosis is most frequently noticed in adolescence and is more common to appear in girls than boys (1).
It is extremely rare for an adult to get scoliosis. Adults with scoliosis were most likely diagnosed in their youth and have either a mild case which required no surgical attention or had spinal fusion surgery. It is common for an individual with scoliosis to wear a brace. In adolescence, this brace provides support and stability and prevents long term curve progression. Once an individual has reached maturity, however, the brace only serves to reduce pain. In adulthood, it is unlikely for scoliosis to progress rapidly: only an approximate 10% show a significant progression (1). It is unusual for for individuals who undergo spinal fusion surgery on one or two segments of the spine to experience limitations in movement. Mobility becomes compromised when more than two segments of the spine are included in the surgery. The motion of the lower back is inhibited and there is an increased amount of stress on other joints (2).
To maintain your mobility, continue to participate in activities you enjoy. Strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine for support, and stretch and lengthen those imposing tension.
5 Simple Exercises for Scoliosis
The latissimus dorsi span the entire back. A row will work these muscles and create support for the trunk. There are many different ways to do a row using either a machine or free weights. It is important to choose the method that is challenging and well suited for you. Sit on a stability ball facing a pulley machine and complete a row. Do this exercise one side at a time. This will challenge your core and make the exercise more difficult.
2. Exercise With Medicine Ball Wood Chop
This exercise enhances full body conditioning with hip and spine rotation. Choose a medicine ball and hold it with both hands. Begin with feet hip-width apart with the ball away from your chest. Lower yourself into a squat, and be sure you are able to see your toes from this position. Align the ball to the outside of right knee, and keep your weight balanced between both feet while rotating your rib cage to the same right side. As you straighten your legs, lift the ball in a diagonal line while continuing to reach up and towards the left, lifting your right heel as you rotate your hips left. In the ending position, the ball should be outside of your left side and as high as you can lift it. Start with 5-10 repetitions using a stability ball. Repeat in the opposite direction. This exercise will increase range of motion and total body strength. Caution: Keep your chest lifted and spine long. Progress to more repetitions and heavier balls. Caution: Keep your chest lifted and spine long. Progress to more repetitions and heavier balls.
3. Bird Dog (4-Point Kneeling)
The erector spinae extend the entire length of the spine on both side and assist in maintain proper posture and rotation. Strengthen and improve the endurance of these muscles by positioning yourself on hands and knees. Slowly reach one leg back, keeping a table top position. Hold this position then switch to the opposite side. Repeat until you are unable to maintain stability. The goal of this exercise is to maintain a neutral spine and pelvis, and keep your tailbone reaching away from your head. To make the exercise more difficult, reach your opposite hand forward or add an element of instability such as the dome of a BOSU or a stability ball.
4. Hip Roll and Bridge
These exercises help distinguish between spine extension/flexion and hip extension/flexion. They both strengthen your hips and spine. Start on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hip Roll: Tilt your pelvis and lift each vertebrae off the ground until your body creates a straight line. Ensure your abdominal muscles are contracted for extra support and your neck remains straight and relaxed throughout the entire exercise. Roll down from your shoulders one vertebrae at a time. Bridge: Keep your spine still and use your hips to lift your back off the ground. In the bridge, there should be no articulation of the spine. Relax the buttocks as you lower down while maintaining the strong stability of your spine and deep core. Hint: Push your tailbone away from your head to lengthen the spine.
There are several variations to the plank. Level 1: Begin with your forearms and knees on the ground, elbows beneath your shoulders. Level 2: Lift one knee of ground, alternating sides, so that one knee is always in contact with the floor. Level 3: Keep both legs straight and palms open. When done correctly, you will feel the challenge in the lower abdominals and upper back. Adjust or stop if you feel any pinching or pain in the lower back.
4 Stretches for Scoliosis
1. Child's Pose
Relieves tension in the the back. Start kneeling, push your hips back so that they are close to your heels while reaching your arms forward. Keep your child’s pose active by reaching your arms out in front of your body with hands flat on the floor.
2. Chest and Shoulders
Sitting or standing. Interlace your fingers behind your back, reach your shoulder blades into your back pocket then lift your arms upwards focusing on opening your chest.
3. Hip Flexion
Tight hip flexors are common, especially since many individuals find themselves living sedentary lifestyles with more sitting. Lower yourself into a lunge position with one knee on the floor. Place a cushion underneath your knee to make it more comfortable. Make sure you can see the toe of the foot flat on the ground. Gently move your weight forward to feel the stretch. Ensure the weight is in the heel of the foot on the ground rather than your hands pushing into your leg. Lift your body tall and repeat for both sides.
4. Spine Release
Position yourself on the floor in a “T” position (lying flat with arms extending shoulder height). Lift your knees into your chest then allow them to fall to one side. Keep your shoulders flat on the floor and only lower your knees to where they are comfortable. Once it is comfortable, turn your head in the opposite direction. Do this on both sides.
(1) Rainville, J., Wright, A. Frequently Asked Questions. National Scoliosis Foundation. Retrieved fromhttp://www.scoliosis.org/faq2.php
(2)Ullrich, P.F. (2004). Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery. Spine-Health. Retrieved from http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/spinal-fusion/lumbar-spinal-fusion-surgery