How to Exercise Safely If You Have Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine (backbone) measuring more than 10 degrees causing wedging of the discs and vertebrae, where one side is wider and the other is narrower.

Diseases like Cerebral Palsy, Marfan syndrome, Spina bifida and Syringomyelia can cause scoliosis but most cases (80%) have no known cause.

Scoliosis is often diagnosed in adolescents but it can affect both kids and adults. Signs will begin to appear when a child is around 11 – 14 years old, including:

  • Visible curve of the spine (S or C shaped)
  • Asymmetrical shoulders
  • Uneven or prominent scapulae
  • Asymmetrical Hips
  • Asymmetrical Waist

Can You Exercise With Scoliosis?

The short and simple answer is YES. In fact, doctors prescribe specific exercises known as Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises to help keep the spine flexible and healthy.

The exercise progam is comprised of:

  • Active self-correction in 3D
  • Corrected posture stabilization
  • Integration into day to day activities
  • Patient education

Other forms of exercise are also encouraged and in fact, kids with scoliosis who engage in sports at least 4 times a week tend to have better outcomes. Adults can also choose team sports, walking and Pilates as part of their exercise regime.

Exercises and Stretches for Scoliosis

The right scoliosis exercises depend largely on the curve location. Those with thoracic scoliosis should focus on shoulder exercises while those lumbar scoliosis should exercise the lower back.

1. Pelvic tilt

This exercise will help stretch tight muscles in the lower back and hip. You can do this exercise by lying on your back with knees bent and with both feet flat on the floor. Keeping your core engaged, flatten your back on the floor and hold for 5-10 seconds.

2. Leg and arm raises

This exercise will strengthen the lower back. To do this, lay on the floor with your stomach on the ground. Outstretch your arms over your head with palms flat on the floor, legs straight. Raise your right hand off the ground and hold for 5-10 seconds then lower it back down. Do the same thing with your right leg. Alternate both sides.

3. Cat-Camel pose

This yoga pose keeps the spine flexible. You can check the instructions in this video.

4. Latissimus dorsi stretch

The largest muscle in the upper body which is the latissimus dorsi should be stretched regularly as lumbar scoliosis tends to cause back tension including this muscle. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Stand in a neutral position.
  • Keep both feet flat on the ground, knees slightly bent.
  • Reach both hands over your head, grab your left wrist with your right hand.
  • Bend slightly to the left side until you notice a stretch in your right side.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Do the same thing on the other side.

5. Abdominal press

You need to strengthen your core to take some pressure off the back muscle. Abdominal press exercises can help you do exactly that. Here’s a demo on how to do this exercise.

Exercises to Avoid If You Have Scoliosis

There are activities and exercises that worsen the symptoms of scoliosis or possibly increase the risk of injuries. You should avoid the following:

  • Playing contact sports like football
  • Gymnastics
  • Ballet
  • Extending the torso repeatedly
  • Jumping on the trampoline
  • Long distance running on hard surfaces
  • Horseback riding
  • Bending the neck forward with the head facing downward

Scoliosis can be mild to severe. In mild cases, proper observation, follow ups and home exercises can help correct a spinal curve. However, in severe cases, an individual may require other treatments like bracing, therapy and even surgery.

For more tips and information on scoliosis exercises, check this video:

Category: Featured