Patients with mild forms of scoliosis (an abnormal bending of the spine to one side or the other) tend to respond well to certain exercises that can be either performed as part of a physical therapy plan or at home. Moderate to severe forms of scoliosis, however, will likely require spinal surgery. Here are five exercises that may help with milder forms of the condition:
1. Up and Down Dog
- Stretch arms out straight
- Push hips back
- Hold for a few seconds
- Lower hips back down towards floor
Perform 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps while getting as low as possible without discomfort.
2. Hip Roll and Bridge
- Move waist in a circular motion
- Form a full circle
- Maintain circular position in the opposite direction
3. Side Stretch
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
- Place your back against a wall
- Dangle both arms at your side
- Lift arm on the affected side above your head
- Bend sideways in the opposite direction (brace yourself with the other hand on hip)
Hold for 4-5 seconds and return to a normal stance. Repeat for 10 reps a few times a day.
4. Arm and Leg Extensions
- Use an exercise or stability ball
- Center hips on the ball (let the ball support most of your weight)
- Extend left arm and lift left hand to the same level as your head (placing left toes and right fingertips on the floor for balance and support)
- Lift right leg until it’s level with your buttocks
Hold for 3-4 seconds before lowering limbs and repeating. Perform 8-10 reps before changing directions and using the opposite limbs.
Note: Breathe in as you lift and out as you lower when releasing the pose.
5. Split Stance (with Arm Reach)
- Extend “longer” leg (the one affected by the curvature) in an exaggerated stride
- Keep torso upright
- Shift weight back and forth (letting forward knee bend naturally when weight is shifted)
- Raise arm as weight is shifted forward (while raising arm opposite of forward leg)
- While selected arm is raised, reach other arm backwards (as far as comfortable)
Do 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps to stimulate the torso and spine to move towards the side of the “longer” forward leg.
When to Seek Additional Help
Most of these exercises are performed on or focused on the side of the body affected by the curvature of the spine. If you find that non-surgical spine treatments such as light exercise, physical therapy and prescription medications are not providing sufficient relief, it may be time to reach out to a spine specialist or surgeon. The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration has a world class diagnostic and surgical team that can help answer any questions and find the most appropriate treatment for your condition. Call 310-828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation today.