Scheuermann’s Disease Stretches

| October 16, 2013 | 4 Replies

Scheuermann’s Disease describes one of the skeletal system diseases which appears on the thoracic or thoracolumbar spine, mostly during adolescence, causing the vertebrae to develop unevenly (when looked at from the side) and the anterior angle to become bigger compared to the posterior. As a result, alterations and deformities occur in one or more vertebrae and, ultimately, the upper part of the sufferer’s body develops a slouching posture (a hunch or a hump) known as kyphosis. Luckily, Scheuermann’s disease is not a very common disorder, affecting no more than 1% of the individuals, and in that case, it will have appeared by the age of 11 (it is nevertheless one of the most common spinal diseases in children). Scheuermann’s disease and kyphosis should not be confused with postural roundback, which is mainly attributable to bad posture rather than to structural changes in the spine, while the deformity caused disappears when the sufferer lies down.

Causes

The generative cause of Scheuermann’s disease has not yet been identified. However, there are several factors which can be considered as contributing factors; these are:

  • Genetics (most scientists believe that Scheuermann’s disease is on the list of genetic disorders)
  • A degenerative disorder of the spine (e.g. arthritis, disc degeneration)
  • Osteoporosis (which results in compression fractures of the vertebrae)
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Malabsorption
  • An infection
  • A burdensome lifting move
  • Poor posture

Symptoms

  • Poor posture and excessive curvature of the upper back
  • Stiffness and soreness in the back
  • Neurological symptoms (rarely)
  • Cardiorespiratory symptoms (scarcely, also)

Typically, an X-ray is the most reliable way used to confirm a diagnosis of Scheuermann’s disease.

Scheuermann’s Disease Stretching Exercises

Before you start, remember that a Scheuermann’s disease stretching program cannot exclusively cope with the disorder but rather act in conjunction with other treating methods, and particularly bracing (see below). With that in mind, check out the Scheuermann’s disease/kyphosis stretches listed below – never forget to utilize our general stretching tips:

  • A dynamic stretch for the chest and thoracic muscles; stand erect with your back straightened and your arms slightly bent in front of your chest; now, push your arms behind you, squeezing your shoulder blades together for 2-3 seconds, release the tension for a similar interval and then squeeze back again; do that for 15-20 repetitions, in sets of 3 (photo 1).
  • Another dynamic stretch (photo 2) for the chest/thoracic muscles, which can greatly alleviate from thoracic kyphosis discomfort; stand upright with your knees slightly bend, your back in touch with a wall and your arms, loosened, by your hips; now raise your arms while bending your elbows so as they will be bent at a 90 degree angle the moment that your biceps reach the level of your neck, and then continue the lift until your arms will be straightened above your hand; hold for 2-3 seconds and bring your arms back to the initial position, starting all over again; remember not to curb forward throughout the whole execution of the stretch; do that for 10-15 repetitions, in sets of 3 (photo 2).
  • Another interesting stretch, of active/static type; sit on a chair with such a back that can ensure that your mid back is roughly on the level of its top point; your spine should be straightened; now, put your palms behind your neck and start stretching your chest muscles backwards, with your head and arms facing up; the moment you feel the pull, stay for 20-30 seconds, relax and repeat for 4-5 sets; obviously, you can perform this exercise in its dynamic form (photo 3). You can also apply a dynamic version with repetitive moves between relax and stretch point.
  • Finally, the pelvic tilt (photo 4 –  in depth presentation right here) and the standing hamstring stretch (photo 5 – detailed presentation right here) are two other beneficial exercise for the Scheuermann’s disease.

Notice you can apply different versions of the previously described stretches! For example you can utilize a passive version of the active/static chest stretch described above by means of a partner that will help you stretch your chest. Also you can apply an isometric or a PNF form of a static stretch like the standing Hamstring Stretch etc.

Still, a typical Scheuermann’s disease stretching routine may consist of a series of additional chest, shoulders, back and hamstring stretches, whose aim should be the building of adequate flexibility for the upper part of the body so that the sufferer maintains improved posture and sufficient support of the vertebra.

Photos & Videos

For a better understanding of the previously described stretching routine you should have a look at the photos below, but you need to follow the written tips/advice given above for each stretch in order for optimum results!

Scheuermann s Disease dynamic stretch

Photo 1 – Dynamic Chest Stretches

dynamic chest stretch for Kyphosis

Photo 2 – Dynamic chest stretch for Kyphosis – notice that hands will raise even more till they are completely straight

Scheuermann's Disease chest stretch

Photo 3 – Active/Static Chest Stretch

pelvic tilt for Kyphosis

Photo 4 – Pelvic tilt stretch

standing hamstring stretch

Photo 5 – Standing Hamstring stretch

Other Scheuermann’s Disease Treatment Options

For dealing with this specific disorder, discussion with a physiotherapist is mandatory, and potential Scheuermann’s disease treatments (usually put into practice along with the above presented exercises) could include one or more of the following:

  • Avoidance of strenuous activity and weight lifting
  • Orthosis using a brace
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgical treatment, for more severe cases

Fortunately though, the condition oftentimes subsides on its own, as the individual’s growth comes to its closing stages, yet leaving its “marks” on the function of the spine and the hamstrings, thus calling for some further treating actions.

Our Advice

Exercising for Scheuermann’s disease and kyphosis is mainly targeted at relieving discomfort and impeding the worsening of the curve; that means that the stretches presented above cannot be considered as an effective means of correcting the ailment; still, they can offer valuable help for alleviating pain and impede the deformity from evolving. In any case, the actual treatment will be determined by an authorized medical professional who will assess factors, like the volume and proportions of the curve, or the sufferer’s specific needs or age, so as to come up with the best curing plan.

Once again don’t forget to follow our general guidance on stretching in order for optimum results the safest way!

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Category: Stretches and Diseases

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