Scoliosis is a medical condition where the spine curves, a curve over 10 degrees is classed as scoliotic. The curves can be either a C curve or a S curve. Research has found that curves measuring between 10 and 35 degrees can greatly benefit from an exercise programme, in fact Brooks 2009 and Thek 2012 both found that exercise can reduce curves by up to 32%. Weiss et al 2003 found that untreated scoliosis progressed up to 2.9 times more than those in corrective exercise programmes. Research has also found that exercises helps reduce pain from scoliosis, improves lung capacity and chest expansion, and results in 24-48 % fewer spinal fusions.
Curves measuring less than 10 degrees are muscle imbalances rather than scoliosis and need to be managed, through Pilates these imbalances can be address and help realign the spine.
Curves measuring between 35 and 50 degrees require a combination of exercise and medical intervention.
So how can pilates help scoliosis?
Pilates looks at the body as a whole and addresses the imbalances found. A great teacher will be able to format a programme that corrects these imbalances to realign the spine and reverse the curve.
A typical Pilates session for scoliosis with me
First of all I do a postural analysis to identify the curves, the imbalances and rotations of the spine and then the body as a whole.
Then from my findings I will start by addressing the pelvis, this may involve foot positioning or re-education of stance, the spine can’t be aligned if the pelvis isn’t aligned (think house on wonky foundations).
From there we will work on elongating the spine, with the help of gravity and or equipment.
I will then introduce breathing exercises particularly if the curve is in the thoracic spine, this helps to expand the chest and rib cage.
Now its time to stretch, we will do exercises that stretch the shortened side to try and bring length back into those shortened muscles.
And finally, we strengthen the weakened, lengthened side with Pilates based exercises. Through all stages of the programme there is homework for the client which consists of exercises they have to do at home. As with all exercise the greatest benefits come through consistency and that means putting the work in at home too.
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