Scoliosis is when the spine curves in a “C” or “S” shape. The curve causes asymmetries and imbalances in the body that might lead to pain.
With scoliosis, we see uneven strength and weakness from right to left side because of the curve. All curves have a convex side (the side that goes outwards) and a concave side (the side that goes inwards). A scoliosis specialist can work on strengthening one side of the curve more than the other. This asymmetrical (one-sided) strengthening can result in faster from exercise and therapy.
Correcting these imbalances is the focus of physical therapists that work with scoliosis. Pilates is a type of exercise that lengthens and strengthens the spine and body in a safe and balanced way. In this blog, we will address how pilates can help with treating scoliosis.
Pilates for scoliosis incorporates education and mindfulness.
With scoliosis, education and awareness about the curve is important while performing any exercises. One must be know the front and the back of the curve. The understanding includes the rib hump in the back and the rib flare in the front. Once you can sense you curve and how it moves, then the scoliosis and pilates exercises can focus on lengthening and strengthening specific areas of the spine. Mindful exercise is safer and more effective when you move with an understanding of your specific curve and body.
Pilates highlights the development of strong core muscles. These muscles include the pelvic floor, abdominals, diaphragm, and back. These core muscles work together to support the back when moving. In scoliosis, there is an imbalance of strength and flexibility with these muscles. Pilates exercises work the body in a smooth continuous movement and promote balance the muscles of the body.
Why is a mind-body connection important in treating scoliosis?
Becoming aware of how we are performing our daily tasks is very important for people with scoliosis. When you have scoliosis it is easy for you to relax and slouch into your curve which could cause the scoliosis to rotate further or worsen as you age. But when we pay attention to our body and our posture we are able to improve our posture and stabilize the curve. Paying attention to posture is one way to help stop the curve from worsening with age. The mind body connection during all daily activities such as driving, doing laundry or even watching TV will help stabilize the curve. The mind-body connection allows us to:
lengthen shortened muscles
strengthen weak muscles
Many studies show exercise is an effective treatment for scoliosis. One study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies discovered that individuals who participated in pilates had a decrease in scoliosis, increase in flexibility, and decrease in pain. So, the study shows that pilates is a great exercise choice for scoliosis treatment.
Pilates is gentle and adaptable
The gentle nature of pilates makes it perfect for scoliosis treatment. Many pilates exercises are performed on equipment in sitting, reclining or lying down. These positions reduce gravity and make the exercises low impact. Exercising in this way strengthens the spine in a gentle way.
Mat pilates can take place on the floor without special equipment. But at ScoliosisPTJax, we use equipment including the reformer, the Core Align, and the Trapeze Table. The equipment uses special springs or tubing to help manage the exercise load. Scoliosis pilates exercises on the equipment work on lengthening and strengthening the spine in a safe and gentle manner.
With the reformer you can exercise in standing, sitting, kneeling and lying down. Using the reformer, the therapist can place you in the best position to support your scoliosis. The reformer has a large flat platform that allows you to feel comfortable and safe while exercising. The therapist can stand next to you to ensure all exercises are performed correctly.
At Scoliosis PT Jax, we also use the Core-Align to help correct posture. Similar to the reformer, the Core-Align is a piece of specialized pilates equipment. Most CoreALign exercises are standing, which makes it perfect for balance and posture work. The CoreAlign is a favorite for people with scoliosis, it is a fun and functional way to exercise.
But don’t let the gentleness of Pilates fool you. Pilates is challenging, and the level of challenge goes up as one gets stronger. The exercises are designed to challenge your strength, coordination, and balance. They are all fun and safe exercises. We see that the extra effort used to control movements makes the activity more difficult. The ability to change and adapt the pilates exercises makes it perfect for the treatment of scoliosis.
How a strengthening program combining Pilates and the Schroth Method improves scoliosis.
The Schroth method is a Scoliosis Specific type of therapy. Schroth focuses on scoliosis in three dimensions and the exercises focus on lengthening and breathing. The goal is to restore muscle symmetry, postural alignment, and awareness. The Schroth Method uses rotational breathing and is a perfect pair with pilates for scoliosis treatment.
In both methods, spinal elongation, mindful breathing, and body awareness position are key elements. The Schroth Method and Pilates emphasize correct alignment before strengthening. This results in better body symmetry and an ability to stabilize your curve. The Schroth Method and pilates allow for individualized treatments for our spinal curve.
What to expect with Pilates for Scoliosis
Pilates for scoliosis is most successful if done consistently either one, two, or three times per week. At ScoliosisPTJax sessions are either private or dual (two people per session). Our pilates instructors will develop a program specifically for your body and your curve. During the class you focus on the movements to lengthen and strengthen your spine. Individuals begin to notice that the practice becomes easier with each session. The mindful movement becomes more natural. We see motor learning taking place in the brain and correct posture becomes automatic.
Come find out why we are Duval and St. John’s County’s go to for Scoliosis Treatment for adolescents and adults.
To learn more about our Pilates services and book a consultation, please click here.