Exercise, Rehab, and Scoliosis – Melina Mirzaei, Kinesiologist

Exercise and physical therapy have been shown to be an important part of the management process of scoliosis. Generally, the goals of exercise are to prevent or limit the progression rate of the curvature in the spine, alleviate pain, and improve muscular and postural imbalances. However, each exercise program is highly individualized, depending on the patient’s age, progression and type of spinal curvature, and phase of treatment. Bracing and surgery (spinal fusion) are sometimes necessary in more severe cases of scoliosis – the treatment program will depend on these factors as well.

Despite the many determining factors in creating an exercise program for patients with scoliosis, it has been shown that exercise can help improve overall mobility and quality of life in the majority of cases. Here at GPP, Pilates and physiotherapy-based exercises are prescribed for patients with scoliosis. The benefits of exercise for scoliosis include:

  • Slowed or halted progression of spinal curvature
  • Decreased pain
  • Improved posture
  • Decreased possibility of brace prescription
  • Decreased time spent in a brace
  • Maintained benefits of bracing following bracing period
  • Reduced possibility of surgery
  • Reduced pain and improved function following surgery

Pilates can help improve the muscle imbalances which commonly accompany spinal curvatures by strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups. To facilitate these exercises, we have wedges and small lifts made specifically to accommodate spinal curvatures. They help to support the spine in a more neutral position, thereby encouraging movement in a functional alignment. These external supports combined with the endless possibilities of the Pilates equipment allow for many ways to modify exercise to suit each individual body.

Repetition and compliance to your individual program are important to reach the best possible outcomes. The goal of exercise is to reinforce proper movement patterns, and eventually decrease the reliance on external feedback (such as bracing). Most exercises should be done on a daily basis to fully reap the benefits of your treatment. To facilitate this, we can provide you with an exercise program that you can do at home to complement your sessions at the clinic.

 

References:

Negrini et al. (2012). 2011 SOSORT guidelines: Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation treatment of idiopathic scoliosis during growth. Scoliosis. 7:3 http://www.scoliosisjournal.com/content/pdf/1748-7161-7-3.pdf

Hawes, M. (2003) The use of exercises in the treatment of scoliosis: an evidence-based critical review of the literature. Developmental Rehabilitation, 6: 3-4, 171-182.

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