Scoliosis affects as many as 6% of American adults over the age of 50, and as many as 75% of them regularly experience pain related to their condition, resulting in reduced mobility and ability to perform daily tasks. In fact, as many as 25% of scoliosis sufferers say that they experience excruciating or horrible pain on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, many traditional scoliosis treatment options offer limited results for adults because they have already reached skeletal maturity.
There are, however, stretches, exercises, and yoga poses that may help. While they will not reduce the size of spinal curvature, they can prevent progression, mitigate pain, and improve mobility – particularly when performed in conjunction with a ScoliSMART™ rehabilitation program or Activity Suit.
Relieve Scoliosis Pain with Stretching
Before trying any exercises for scoliosis pain relief, do some stretching to loosen up and improve flexibility. In addition to loosening your muscles, regular stretching can increase your range of motion to protect the spine from injury.
Here are some simple stretches to try in the comfort of your home:
- Box Stretch – Determine which of your legs is slightly longer, then step onto a box with that leg. Step back with the other leg and bend at the knee, lowering your body as far as you can. As you lower, raise your arm on the same side as high as you can. Return to the start and repeat.
- Reach – Take an exaggerated step forward with your longer leg while keeping your torso upright. Shift your weight forward and back, bending your front knee and raising your opposite arm as high as you can. Reach the other arm back, forcing your body to turn toward your forward leg. Return to the start and repeat.
- Hip Thrust – Lie face-down on the floor with your legs and arms out straight. Plant your palms flat on the floor and thrust your hips back, raising them up as much as you can. Hold, then return to the start and repeat.
- Chest Stretch – Standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, stretch your arms out in front of you. Open your arms out to the sides, pulling them back until your shoulder blades come together and you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold, then release and repeat.
- Back Stretch - Standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, stretch your arms out in front of you. Lace your fingers together and push them out from your chest until you feel a stretch in your back. Hold, then release and repeat.
As you try these stretches, make an effort to stretch with your spinal curvature. This helps the muscles to contract and shorten, effectively working to correct the existing imbalance and relieve pain.
Core-Strengthening Scoliosis Exercises for Spinal Stability
Core muscles play an important role in stabilizing the spine, and building core strength can play an important role in helping prevent progression. To perform core-strengthening exercises, it may benefit you to have certain tools on hand, such as BOSU balance trainer, a stability ball, and a foam roller.
- A BOSU balance trainer is a dome-shaped device that incorporates an element of instability into your workout to strengthen your stabilizing muscles.
- A stability ball can be used to support your spine while you perform exercises.
- A foam roller is good for working on balance.
To strengthen your core for greater stability, try the following seven exercises:
- Crunches – Place the small of your back on a stability ball and plant your feet on the floor for balance. With your hands behind your head, sit up at the waist, then lower yourself and repeat.
- Cat to Camel – Get down on your hands and knees, your head facing forward. As you breathe in, round your back and lift your lower rib cage, keeping your neck relaxed. As you breathe out, lower your chest down to the ground while looking up, then repeat.
- Squats – Stand on a BOSU balance trainer with your feet about hip-width apart. Raise your hands out in front of you, then sit back on your heels, lowering your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push back up to the start and repeat, slowly and in control.
- Spider – Stand facing a wall with your feet together and your back straight. Put your hands on the wall at the height of your chest, then walk your fingers upward. When your arms are extended straight overhead, rise onto your toes; then, walk your fingers back down in a straight line. Repeat.
- Arm/Leg Extension – Lie face-down on a stability ball with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. Raise your left arm and right leg until they are both parallel to the ground, then slowly lower them and repeat, changing sides.
- Back Extension – Lie face-down on a stability ball and brace your feet against the wall. With your hands behind your ears, lower your chest and torso onto the ball, then lift back up. Repeat.
- Superman – Lying face-down on the floor, extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing down. Lift both of your arms and legs, then hold for a few seconds before releasing and repeating.
- Foam Roller – Lie lengthwise on a foam roller with your feet planted hip-width apart, legs bent at the knee. Lift one knee until the calf is parallel to the floor while lifting your opposite arm straight up. Return to the start and repeat, alternating sides.
To get the most out of these exercises, be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the entire exercise. This will help protect your back against accidental strain or injury.
Yoga Poses to Relieve Scoliosis Pain
Similar to stretching, yoga is great for relieving sore muscles and alleviating scoliosis pain; just be sure to avoid any moves that require you to twist at the waist or bend too far backward or forward. Here are four simple poses great for scoliosis pain relief:
- Child's Pose – Crouch with your feet hip-width apart, your weight in your toes and your arms stretched out in front of you. Slowly lower your chest to your knees, stretching forward while taking a deep breath. Feel the muscles in your spine lengthen, then relax and repeat.
- Cat Pose – Kneel down and place your hands on the ground directly under your shoulders. With your knees below your hips, spread your fingers and look down while tightening your core. Breathe in while tilting your head and arching your back. Breathe out while tucking your tailbone and dropping your head. Relax and repeat.
- Mountain Pose – Stand tall with your feet together and your arms hanging at your sides. Rise onto the balls of your feet, keeping your weight evenly distributed. Lower back down, then breathe in, pulling your pelvis inward while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Rest and repeat.
- Tree Pose – Moving from Mountain Pose, shift your weight onto your left foot. Taking your right hand, grab hold of your right ankle, slowly bringing it up to place the flat of your foot against your inner left thigh. Breathe in, pulling your pelvis in toward your spine, then place your palms together in front of your chest and breathe deeply. Repeat on the other side.
While stretching, exercising, and performing yoga may not be at the top of your list of “things to do” when suffering from scoliosis pain, you may find that they help. Working your muscles and stretching provides safe and natural pain relief as an alternative to ineffective traditional treatment options – especially when paired with a ScoliSMART™ rehabilitation program or Activity Suit.