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7 Best And Easy Exercises For People With Scoliosis

| Reviewed By Susan Jennifer

Scoliosis is a medical condition characterised by abnormal curvature of the spine ("S" or "C" shaped curved spine). It is common in individuals between the ages 10-18 (Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis) and the condition is often diagnosed during the growing period of a child. However, people of any age can get the condition and girls are more prevalent to get affected by it compared to boys. [1]

Exercising is the best way to maintain the curvature of the spine, relieve the pain and prevent the progression of scoliosis. And for people whose curves have worsened with age, spine surgery is the better option; however, in individuals with mild to moderate scoliosis, exercise regimens can strengthen the core, ease pain and prevent the condition from worsening.

It is good to consult your doctor if you want to start on exercises. They will provide you details about your condition, whether you can correct it with exercise and if yes, what type of exercise will work better for your condition depending on the severity.

In this article, we will discuss some of the exercises for people with scoliosis. Take a look.


1. Side Plank

Side plank poses may help strengthen the convex side of the curve in people with scoliosis and may help their spine to straighten. According to a study, side plank has helped in the curve improvement of around 49 per cent of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients who did the pose for around six months. [2]

How to do:

  • First, lie on your right side with legs extended from hip to feet. Ensure that the head is in line with the spine, feet together and left forearm directly below your shoulder.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles and lift your hips and knees from the mat while exhaling. You should be in a straight line from head to feet with no sagging or bending. Hold the position.
  • After taking several breaths, let the hips drop and return to the starting position. Now change sides and repeat.

2. Pelvic tilts

According to a study, pelvic tilts may cause positive effects in controlling the progression of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Pelvic tilts may help stretch muscles of the hips and lower back and improve the condition. [3]

How to do:

  • Lie on your back in a neutral position with knees bent and feet facing in a forward direction. The scoliosis curve will naturally lift your lower back a bit up the floor.
  • Tighten your stomach and buttocks muscles and pull your navel in to flatten your back.
  • While doing this, you will feel that your back is pressing against the floor and your pelvis is slightly moving upward.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, breathing normally.
  • Do this for a few breaths, up to 5-10 reps.
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3. Bird Dog/Arm and Leg Raises

The bird dog exercise may help strengthen the neuromuscular connections which are involved in correcting the posture. Doing this exercise may help strengthen the lower back with arm and leg raises, achieve posture correction and posture maintenance, says a study. [4]

How to do:

  • Get on your hands and knees, like a dog position, keeping your spine straight.
  • Extend your one arm over your head and keep it straight and level with the head. The palms should be then positioned flat on the ground. Keep the legs straight.
  • Simultaneously, extend your one leg which is opposite to the extended arm and keep it straight.
  • Hold in the position for a few breaths.
  • Now gently lower down both the arm and the leg and repeat with another arm and leg.
  • Repeat it 10-15 times with each side.

4. Double leg abdominal press

According to a study, double-leg abdominal press comes under core stabilisation exercise program for people with scoliosis. It is designed to adjust the spine and strengthen the lumbar and abdominal muscles. Do it in three sets of 12 repetitions. [5]

How to do:

  • Lying on your back with knees bent and feet together.
  • Now, raise both the legs together off the floor so that your knees and hips are bent at 90-degree angles.
  • Rest the hands slightly below the knees.
  • Now, push the hands against the knees as hard as you can using your abdominal muscles.
  • Simultaneously, pull back the hands as hard as you can by the knees.
  • In short, you have to push and pull the hands over the knees simultaneously.
  • Keep the arms straight and tuck the chin in a little bit while doing this.
  • Do not hold your breath but make sure to keep the abdominal muscles tight.
  • Repeat this 10 times.
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5. Cat-camel

This exercise also comes under core training and may help improve vertebral and pelvic flexion and extension, and bended curve in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis. Cat-camel is considered as a good mobility exercise for posture correction and improving pelvic deformities in people with scoliosis. [6]

How to do:

  • Get on your hands and knees with your head straight.
  • inhale deeply, then draw the stomach muscles in and up, curving your back.
  • Now exhale and release the abdominal muscles, letting the stomach fall, and lifting the head toward the ceiling.
  • Do this exercise around 10 times repeatedly.
  • Pic Credit:


6. Sitting Rotation Stretch

The sitting rotation stretch can help improve your flexibility and mobility and may help ease the back pain. It is a beneficial exercise to strengthen the back and abs of people with scoliosis that may help in their good posture.

How to do:

  • Sit on the floor or on a mat.
  • First, keep the right leg straight and bend the left leg over the top of your right leg.
  • Keep the spine straight and torso tilted left with left hand touching the ground and right hand's elbow pressing against the left leg knee.
  • Hold the position for around 20 seconds or more.
  • Now switch the legs and repeat the exercise in the opposite direction.

7. Latissimus Dorsi Stretch

Latissimus dorsi stretch is a combination of muscle activation and external force. This may help correct the curvature and improve the function of the spine. It may also help loosen and strengthen your lat muscles (the large V-shaped muscles that connect the arms to your vertebral column) which may feel tightened due to scoliosis. [7]

How to do:

  • Stand straight, lift up your hands and hold them together.
  • Then, lean gently on one side until you feel a mild to moderate stretch on your upper back and shoulder.
  • Hold the position for around five seconds and then return to the straight position.
  • Then lean on the opposite side.
  • Repeat the exercise around 10 times on both sides.
  • If you feel any pain, do it slowly and fewer times.

How To Practice Good Posture?

While standing, you can practise good posture with the following tips:

  • Drop the shoulders down and back, instead of lifting it up and tilting at the front.
  • Make sure the ears are positioned over the shoulders.
  • Tuck your chin so that you can keep your head straight.
  • Tuck the stomach in and bottom under so as to avoid bending either forward or backwards.
  • Unlock the knees slightly.
  • Avoid too much arching in or out of the back.
  • While sitting, you can practise good posture with the following tips:

    • Avoid slouching or sitting in a lazy drooping way.
    • Avoid too much arching the back by sticking out the chest.
    • The best to sit is with your back straight so that your ears are in position with the shoulder.

Exercises To Avoid

Some of the physical activities or exercises restricted for people with scoliosis include:

  • Swimming
  • High jumps
  • Football
  • Gymnastic
  • Certain yoga positions require curvature bending.
  • Horse riding
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Long-distance running
  • To Conclude

    All the exercises mentioned above should be strictly performed under the supervision of an instructor or a medical expert to ensure that all exercise motions are performed accurately and related accidents prevented.

Susan JenniferPhysiotherapist
Masters in Physiotherapy
Susan Jennifer
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