Even if it wasn’t a great source of discomfort when it first developed, scoliosis can still cause painful flare-ups later in life. One way to keep discomfort related to an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine in check is with regular excise. Yoga, in particular, can be an effective way for people with scoliosis to correct spinal posture, improve balance, and minimize disruptive symptoms. Here are four beginner yoga poses that could be beneficial for people living with scoliosis.
As the name implies, this pose will have you standing tall like a mountain. It may be beneficial for scoliosis because it can boost core muscle strength and balance. Do the mountain pose by:
• Standing with your big toes together and heels apart to create a “V” shape
• Letting your arms hang as you relax your shoulders
• Focusing on your feet as you close your eyes and imagine your feet are planted in the ground below you
• Lifting yourself up on your feet between the arches and toes so your weight is evenly distributed
• Relaxing to a flat position again as you balance and spread out your toes
• Engaging your upper leg muscles without locking your knees
• Keeping your chin down as you raise your pelvis slightly upward and relax your shoulders with your arms naturally hanging
• Breathing slowly as you relax your face
Try breathing in a way that expands your diaphragm as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Hold the pose for about 30–60 seconds before shifting feet and advancing to the pose below.
With this pose, you’ll be targeting your core spine-supporting muscles while also improving balance and posture. The tree pose reduces stress, which can also be an effective way to manage scoliosis pain. Do the tree pose by shifting your weight to one foot while finishing the mountain pose. You’ll then complete this pose by:
• Reaching down with your hand to grab the ankle on the same side
• Lifting the foot on the same side and placing it against the opposite thigh (or calf, if you can’t comfortably get up that high)
• Stretching and lengthening your spine as you shift your pelvis inward and your tailbone downward
• Placing your palms together and in front of your chest
• Moving your shoulder blades together as much as comfortably possible as you look forward and breathe steadily
Hold the pose for about 30 seconds. Wrap it up by switching legs and repeating.
You’ll be opening up the spaces between your vertebrae and stretching the tendons and muscles that provide some support for your spine with this pose. The cat/cow pose is done by:
• Starting on all fours with your hands below your shoulders and your knees positioned below your hips
• Looking downward as you spread your fingers and engage your abdominal muscles
• Inhaling and lifting your head and tailbone to create a concave shape in your lower back area
• Exhaling while tucking in your tailbone and “releasing” your neck so your head gently drops to round your upper back/neck area
Repeat 4–5 times or whatever is comfortable for you. You can always gradually work your way up to more repetitions.
This is a relaxation pose that can be a great way to wrap up a yoga session. It helps the areas of your spine affected by scoliosis by promoting relaxation and easing stress. The child’s pose is done by:
• Resting on your heels in a seated position
• Stretching your arms/hands outward
• Bending the upper part of your body forward and lowering your chest as close to your knees as comfortably possible
• Extending forward until you feel the stretch but not any pain
• Breathing deeply as you relax and feel the muscles in your spine lengthening while relaxing your body
Hold this pose for about 30 seconds or so. As you get used to this routine, work your way up to holding the pose a bit longer.
Check with your doctor or a Santa Monica spine surgeon first before getting started with the poses discussed here. Also, stop if you notice any sudden or worsening discomfort. If you need some additional guidance with these poses, you may wish to start by working with a yoga instructor, who should also be able to recommend appropriate modifications for you if necessary.
If you’re experiencing serious complications from scoliosis, your spinal specialist may recommend a surgical procedure, such as posterior spinal fusion or anterior lumbar interbody fusion. Santa Monica patients with severe or prolonged pain should reach out to the pioneering physicians at The Spine Institute. Our premier spine specialists and cutting-edge treatment methods are the finest in the spinal health industry, and we have decades of experience with every aspect of back pain and how to alleviate it. To schedule a consultation, call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757.