Scoliosis Exercises To Straighten Your Spine

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Here's One Unique Scoliosis Stretch You're Probably Never Seen

Learn how to do this strange-but-effective scoliosis exercise by watching the video below...

Can Physical Therapy Exercises Help Scoliosis?

In most cases, doing some kind of physical therapy exercises is good for scoliosis, but which exercises you do depends on what's causing your scoliosis.

Not all exercises and stretches are good for scoliosis though.  There are certain exercises to avoid if you have scoliosis.

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What Causes Scoliosis?

There are various causes of scoliosis, but the two general categories are:

  1. Structural Scoliosis - when there is a structural curve in the spine.
  2. Functional Scoliosis - Scoliosis that's a secondary effect of something else

Structural scoliosis usually develops during childhood or adolescence when the grown plates are still open. Abnormal stresses applied to the spine during these years or neuromuscular problems such as cerebral palsy can cause scoliosis. Structural scoliosis can also be ideopathic, without known cause.

Functional scoliosis is caused by something else such as a leg length discrepancy, or a muscles spasm in the back or hip muscles causing the spine to appear curved. It can develop in either childhood and adulthood

Functional Scoliosis is the more common type that I seen in my practice, since I primarily see woman age 40 & above (although the video above was inspired by a male patient).

In many cases, adults with a functional scoliosis don't realize they have it until someone points it out to them.

Do Scoliosis Exercises Work For Adults?

Structural scoliosis can be reduced, but in most cases, it cannot be completely corrected in adults as the growth plates are closed.  However, exercises can help adults with structural scoliosis minimize pain and functional problem.

Functional scoliosis, on the other hand, is usually completely reversible, even in adults... and often fast.

The key is finding and addressing the root cause of the problem.

Scoliosis and Leg Length

Many chiropractors or physical therapists will "measure" leg length by seeing if one hip is higher than the other when standing or if one leg is longer than the other when laying down.  Many times they will do a spinal manipulation or SI joint adjustment and the legs will "look" even.

This is good if the spinal or SI problem is the cause of the scoliosis.

However, if there is an actual structural difference in the leg lengths, this correction usually not hold long term.

Structural leg length differences can be caused due to legs growing to different lengths as a child, developing arthritis in one hip or knee, or having a hip or knee replacement.

If the legs are actually different lengths, you need to use a heel lift in the shoe of the shorter leg to correct the problem.

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What Are The Best Scoliosis Exercises To Straighten Your Spine?

The best scoliosis exercise to straighten your spine are the ones that bend your spine in the opposite direction of the curve.

If looking at the spine from the back, scoliosis causes the spine to curve in the shape of an S or a C.

To straighten the spine, you want to stretch toward the convex (or closed) part of the curve.

This is rather easy with a C-curve, but with an S-curve it becomes more complex.

Most exercises for scoliosis address only one part of an S-curve. The scoliosis correction exercise in the video above addresses both parts of an S-curve.

Scoliosis Exercises For Elderly Adults?

Scoliosis can be present in the elderly population.  Older adults may have a structural scoliosis that developed as a child and was just never detected until they start having back pain later in life.

Scoliosis can also be caused by degenerative discs in the back which can cause the spine to tip to one side or the other.  Often this type of scoliosis can cause spinal stenosis symptoms, such as:

  • Back and leg pain when standing and walking
  • Numbness, tingling, or tiredness in the leg that is relieved by sitting down

Exercises that involve forward bending from a seated position and stretching away from the painful side can also be a helpful scoliosis exercise for older adults.

degenerative scoliosis exercises for elderly

Exercises To Avoid With Scoliosis

If you have a structural scoliosis, it is best to avoid exercises that put excessive compression on the spine such heavy weightlifting or long-distance running. Depending on how large your curve is and how bad your symptoms are, you may be able to lift light to medium weights and/or run short distances a few days per week.

Twisting sports like tennis or golf can cause problems for people with scoliosis, especially if you have poor technique.  Your lower back is not designed to twist, so learning to use your hips is important.

Read our post on how to prevent back pain when golfing.

Again, if you have a functional scoliosis, this type of problem is usually reversible. Therefore, you should be able to get back to running, lifting weights, golf, tennis, or other forms of exercise rather quickly.

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