Scoliosis and Fitness: What Exercise is Okay?

Is Any Exercise Good for Scoliosis?

By Rosemary Marchese, Physiotherapist (Schroth and SEAS methods)

Is fitness an important focus for people with Scoliosis? This is not different to people who don’t. Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that is measured at an angle of 10 degrees or more on X-Ray. Up to 3-4% of children and up to 50% of adults may have scoliosis too. This means that there are lots of people walking around with a curvy back. Is this curvy back a problem for fitness exercises? Do you need scoliosis specific exercises or is yoga, Pilates and gym workouts enough? 

Fitness Activities such as Gym Workouts, Pilates and Yoga are Not Treatment for Scoliosis

 General physical activity is not the same as Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises (PSSE).  Exercises such as gym workouts, Pilates and Yoga, are practiced by many. But this is not to be mistaken as ‘therapy’. I generally try to encourage all my scoliosis patients to keep active. In some cases modifications to their posture or positions held may be required in order to ‘do no harm’.

Adults and kids are also different when it comes to scoliosis. Kids tend to be more supple, but not always, than adults. Putting them into extreme Yoga positions for example, is often not necessary or beneficial. Adults on the other hand often come with other problems in addition to their their original diagnosis. This can include osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative discs and more. All of these need to be taken into account when prescribing gym workouts.

Exercise based treatment for scoliosis must be provided by a physiotherapist trained in this area. A personal trainer or fitness instructor can provide great benefit to the health of the person, but this must not be mistaken for specific therapy.

Can A Person With Scoliosis Participate in Sport?

 Yes! In most cases there is great benefit to continuing with sport. A recent study presented by Negrini et al (2019) presented at the SOSORT conference in San Francisco in 2019 showed that children who play sport in addition to their usual therapy for scoliosis do better with their treatment than the kids that don’t play sport.

Where Can Personal Trainers, Fitness Instructors and Group Exercise Instructors Learn More?

 I regularly run seminars for health professionals and fitness professionals. To organise a seminar within your own facility please contact info@schrothscoliosisphysio.com.au For fitness professionals in Australia you can participate in our short introductory online learning course, worth 2CECs with Fitness Australia. The link to get started is here.

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