Scoliosis is a medical disorder that describes a sideways curving of the spine (as viewed from the back) which usually resembles a letter “S” or “C”, instead of the usual straight-line pattern. Affecting both children and adolescents, and apart from the aesthetic aspect, scoliosis can make ordinary moves (like bending over or reaching to grab an item) difficult or unachievable – or even bring about difficulty in breathing due to the limited chest space left for the lungs to operate properly.
The majority of scoliosis causes remain identifiable, though probably inherited – and that’s why these cases are categorized as idiopathic scoliosis.
Other reasons contributing to the development of this disorder are caused by:
- Vertebral anomalies present at birth (congenital scoliosis)
- Abnormal muscles or nerves, defective formation of the spine’s bones (neuromuscular scoliosis)
- A previous injury or illness, osteoporosis, spondylosis, deterioration of ligaments and other soft tissues of the spine (degenerative scoliosis)
Unfortunately, scoliosis typically takes long to become obvious, and it is usually well concealed until the curve of the spine gets to be serious. Still, a series of evident signs and symptoms can indicate the occurrence of scoliosis:
- The waistline is not properly leveled
- The shoulders’ level becomes unequal and/or one shoulder blade becomes more prominent than the other
- One hip comes out higher than the other
- One leg seems to be shorter than the other
- The ribs on one side of the body appear to stick out farther compared to the other side
- Back pain (for back pain stretches click here)
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath (the last three symptoms occur in severe cases)
Generally, scoliosis is not painful until it becomes critical, while the pain can be caused by other reasons; so, don’t expect to sense pain to visit your doctor, especially when you have already detected one of the above signs; for that reason, regular physical exams and low radiation X-rays can render valuable help.
Scoliosis Stretching Exercises
First of all we need to remind that you should follow our general Stretching Guide when following any stretching routine. The main aims of those scoliosis stretches, among others, is generally to reduce the tightness of the back muscles, relieve the pressure of the spinal nerves and improve your posture:
- A simple static chest stretch, which is ideal for many scoliosis patients: Just stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms in front of your chest, straightened or bent; now, pull them backwards while pressing your shoulder blades together, and hold it for some seconds (photo 1).
- Another great static one: Stand upright with your hands extended in front of your chest; interlace your fingers and push your arms away from your chest; the moment you feel the stretch in your upper back, hold it there (photo 2)
- An Active/Static Stretch: Lie pronely on the floor with your legs extended and your arms also straightened above your head; now raise your left arm and your right leg at the same time, holding them for 5-10 seconds; repeat with the other leg and arm (photo 3).
- Lie on the floor with your back, your knees bent and your feet in contact with the floor, leaving gravity to do the job for you (that is, to line up your spine!); then, raise your arms over your head, with the palms looking up, without lifting your back from the ground, so as to stretch out your spine more, and hold it for some seconds.
- Another Static Stretch: Lie on the floor with your back with your legs extended; now, gently pull the left knee towards your chest (leaving the other straightened onto the ground), supporting the move with your arms; reach as far as you can (without feeling pain!) and hold your leg there; switch sides and repeat; this is an ideal stretch for relieving the pressure from the lumbar (lower back) and hip muscles (photo 4).
- A final one (photo 5); stand in front of a wall with your legs shoulder-width apart, with your hands at the level of your shoulders; then, step back for some inches so that your upper body comes to an almost vertical angle with your legs; push your palms onto the wall, while trying to make your back come parallel to the ground by pulling your abdomens inwards, also avoiding curving; hold it there, and you have found a nice way to lengthen your spinal column.
The above list is just indicatory; that means that, in proportion to your needs and the extent of the problem, you may need to perform a different stretching routine whereas other exercises described in other chapters of Stretchify.com (lower back exercises and stretches, chest, shoulders, quadriceps, hamstring, adductor, calf stretches etc.) may prove to be beneficial as well.
All the above stretches for scoliosis are in the category of active/static or passive stretches; hold them for 15-30 seconds (unless mentioned otherwise), carrying out 3-5 repetitions for each one. Of course you can apply or dynamic variations of the static stretches, or ask from a partner to help you perform a passive version of an active stretch (if you find it difficult to perform the active one). Also isometric, PNF or Active Isolated forms of the previously mentioned stretches could also relieve the scoliosis symptoms, but you’d rather speak with an expert before trying something like that.
Photos & Videos
Watch the following photos and videos in order to better understand how to apply the previously mentioned stretches:
Other Scoliosis Treatment Options
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Scoliosis brace treatment (it impedes the progression of the curve)
Schroth method (a non-surgical method consisted of isometric and other exercises which aim at strengthening and lengthening the asymmetrical muscles in the body)
- Surgery, for more severe cases
Scoliosis is a troublesome and treacherous disorder which must be early identified so as to be prevented in time. What a sufferer should have in mind is that the stretching routine implemented must be compiled and supervised by a physiotherapist or specified trainer, and always be abandoned immediately the moment pain is felt.
Category: Stretches and Diseases